5 ways CIOs can help CMOs win at technology

Everyday, marketers receive emails promoting some new piece of technology that’s ‘guaranteed’ to revolutionise their activities. Whether it be viral email acquisitions programme that promise double email subscriber lists or a match-and-append solution for customer databases, marketers are consistently bombarded with information on how new technology can benefit their business.

They now have unprecedented levels of insight, integration and information about customer behaviour and motivations – and it’s all driven by rapidly evolving tech. Much of it promises to be plug-and-play (“Just 5 minutes to integrate!”).

A changing relationship

So what is the role of the CIO and the IT department in all of this? As recently as 15 years ago, a marketer could get only as far as vetting that a software solution had the right features to fit the business need. From there, the vendor would engage directly with the IT team to negotiate the contract and deploy the new system.

>See also: CIOs who work closely with CMOs will boost ROI by 25% – Gartner

The ongoing SaaS revolution has changed everything. To succeed in today’s digital world, CMOs, have to be far more tech savvy than their counterparts from a decade or two ago, as they deal with solutions for marketing automation, email marketing, customer relationship management, web tools and more.

Cloud-based solutions – especially those that are inexpensive and don’t need to be integrated into other systems – make it possible for a marketing team to purchase and deploy a solution without involving the IT team at all.

IDC reports that spending on tech is continuing to shift from IT to line-of-business executives, with a prediction that CMOs will own 10% of the tech budget by the end of 2015.

The upside to this is that new tech can be deployed much faster. The downside is that a marketer could pick the wrong software, overpay for it, and cause security issues that affect the health of the whole company.

The smartest CMOs realise that while CIOs are no longer the sole technology gatekeeper, they are still an invaluable ally. Forward-thinking CIOs acknowledge that the buying dynamics have changed. They’ve adapted their thinking from, “You can’t buy this without me,” to “How can I help you and support you in your tech-buying decisions?” In fact, collaboration between CMOs and CIOs has a real business value, with Gartner recently reporting that it could increase ROI by up to 25%.

Here are five key areas where CIO involvement can be crucial in the ultimate success of marketing initiatives.

1. Daily collaboration

Every company is organised differently. In some cases where a website is primarily a marketing vehicle, tech and development resources may report in to the marketing team – alternatively, they may be their own business unit that reports in to the CIO. Either way, marketing and tech teams are increasingly joined at the hip. Collaboration has to happen daily, not just when there’s a new SaaS solution to deploy.

Given the two teams’ increasing dependence on one another, a virtual or cloud-based collaboration tool is essential, otherwise marketers will be continually knocking on the door of the IT organisation. Keep a healthy, open relationship between the two teams by finding a work-management solution that allows a single place to prioritise, route and manage work – not to mention providing visibility to both teams and the organisation at large.

2. Stamp of approval

For the CIO, marketing is just one part of the overall technology spend. As a result, the CMO must have a greater depth of knowledge when it comes to available marketing solutions and a clearer perspective on the business needs. Thus, the CMO should research available tech solutions and narrow it down to a shortlist, if not a single finalist. That’s when CIOs have the opportunity to evaluate the choices in terms of security, integration, and price.

In many cases the CIO is regarded as the keeper of the technology company-wide, so it is more valuable than ever that CIOs and CMOs to work together. If the CMO and the CIO present a united front, success is all but guaranteed.

3. Security analysis

Most of what marketers are looking to procure is SaaS or PaaS, which of course means you’re moving sensitive data into the cloud. The press is certain to cover security breaches, but nine times out of ten a cloud-based data centre is going to have cutting-edge security. Nevertheless, marketers are not security experts and this is when the CIO can step in to perform a security audit.

4. Tech contract negotiation

The CIO has probably been negotiating contracts for the last 20 years. Apply that experience and expertise to marketing’s software buy; you are bound to have a few tricks up your sleeve that will get the best possible price for the features marketing needs.

5. Tech training

Not all marketers are necessarily gifted when it comes to technology, especially those who reside on the more creative end of the skill spectrum. Rather than engaging in a blind-leading-the-blind situation with marketers trying to troubleshoot a new software system and teach each other how to use it, the IT team can lead training as their experience is both broader and deeper.

>See also: CIOs and CMOs still struggle to deliver integrated digital marketing despite narrowing gap

Although the dynamics have changed, a healthy, transparent relationship between the tech and marketing teams is still the best way to ensure that new marketing solutions get approval from the CEO and CFO, provide the proper security features, are purchased at the right price, and have any chance of living up to that ubiquitous ‘we-can-revolutionise-your-marketing-activities’ promise.


Sourced from Joe Staples, CMO at Workfront

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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