Ensuring CIO and CMO alignment with technology investment decisions

Technology investment decisions have become increasingly business-critical over time, with the wrong platform decision capable of negatively impacting the company’s ROI, in addition to unleashing major headaches for IT and marketing teams. Today, there are more channels than ever before, introducing new business challenges that can be solved with new technology innovations.

Organisations that have already embraced the latest digital technologies for their marketing efforts have adjusted more easily in the pandemic, shifting entirely to digital channels as retail has slowed or shut down completely. At the same time, those that haven’t are rushing to find a quick solution for immediate implementation. While this may be the right move to survive the current crisis, these organisations will inevitably have to re-budget, rebuild and further fund ongoing investments in addition to dealing with headaches from having chosen less-than-ideal integrated solutions as a bandage for the meantime.

The options for Martech platforms have become broader and more technical, adding an additional layer of complexity to an already difficult decision for stakeholders selecting solutions that will be used in the next few years. While there are many examples of marketing challenges addressed with technology, there are two that stand out.

The first one is ‘Big Data’ which emerged from the need to know and store as much as you can about customers. This led to the second trend which is using artificial intelligence (AI) to make better sense of massive amounts of data more easily and quickly. However, with new, more complex solutions built around these technologies, making them work for a business and assessing whether they’re worthwhile is not easy. It usually comes down to comparing their value and cost.

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Mind the gap between the CIO and the CMO

Often, total cost of ownership (TCO) for handling the complexity, maintenance and technical debt with new platforms can turn out to be a real burden for organisations. In fact, according to Gartner, more than three-quarters of orgnaisations found the technology buying process complex or difficult. But is this really surprising?

Implementing the right technology solution for the business is often challenging due to the different priorities that CMOs and CIOs have. While for the CMO the priority is to adopt the latest innovations as soon as possible in order to stay ahead of the competition, this need has to fit the CIO’s focus on TCO for the long-term. The weight of these options is what drives a wedge between those key decision makers, creating a need to find common ground sooner.

Being aligned is essential so that they can choose the right options which will allow marketing to execute on strategy and hit company targets on the one hand, and meet operational requirements for maintenance, governance and risk avoidance on the other, which are top of mind for the CIO. To ensure that the best options are selected for the business, the CMO’s priorities need to meet those of the CIO and vice versa. So how can this be achieved?

The CMO needs to be aware of the technical debt, integration points and architectures, while the CIO should be mindful of the business value and the need for fast time-to-market for implementations. However, this means that they both must have a better technical understanding of areas outside the scope of their work. So how do these executives find confluence across their potentially opposing goals and perspectives? How do they pick the right software in this ever-changing landscape where new technologies and innovations become available every day? The answer is to work with a trusted technical advisor.

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What is the role of the trusted technical advisor?

Trusted technical advisors usually have prior technical experience and understand all necessary requirements needed to help businesses make the right technical decision. They usually come from diverse backgrounds from architects, to engineers, to marketing technologists. These experts are the mediators between the CMO and the CIO as they are able to grasp both the technical and business needs of an organisation.

A trusted advisor can ensure the following four key things when selecting a new technology solution for the business:

• Understanding what’s needed: By working closely with the CMO and the CIO the technical advisor can identify what the essential requirements are and validate that the platform or technology can support these.

• Operational efficiency: These experts can ensure that the chosen solution will provide the company with the capability to deliver high-quality customer experiences cost-effectively today and in the future.

• Ease of implementation: Trusted advisors have the ability to verify the key development requirements by considering factors such as the technology stack, whether the architecture is capable of integrations, if documentation and training is available, and whether there is a developer community for resources and support as well as reliable, quality vendor support.

• Supporting end-users: They can assess whether a platform is easy and intuitive to use for end-users, considering factors such as whether an employee can do their job in one interface or will need to juggle multiple logins across multiple interfaces.

The role of technical advisors is also key because they work closely across multiple client teams — including developers and marketing practitioners — to make sure that options are aligned with the CIO and CMO needs’ for capabilities and ease of use.

Organisations that do have the capability to take on a long-term approach — where technology consolidation is possible in favour of more robust solutions that are a better fit — moving forward with a technical advisor will be key to getting there faster, and with a better end result. Having an expert who can speak the language of both IT and marketing will ensure that the right technology is selected to drive business success for years to come.

Written by Pieter Brinkman, senior director technical marketing, Sitecore

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