CMO and Technology Decisions

In most businesses today, the majority of tech decisions are made by executives whose primary focus is technology—the CIO and CTO. Having these business leaders make tech decisions has been the standard for decades. But just because things have always been one way does not mean they will stay that way.

NTConnections is an IT company in Reston, VA that works with many midsize DC Metro organizations and we are starting to a huge increased overlap of tech and marketing, CMOs are being pulled into the decision-making process whether they like it or not.

Big Data, shadow IT, predictive analysis and other topics are coming to the forefront of the business landscape and the need for marketing input and guidance in tech decisions is gaining ground as a result. It seems inevitable that CMOs will be expected to make tough technology decisions as time goes on. Technology and revenue generation are fully intertwined at this point, which means executives that focus on revenue are going to need to step up and provide input when it comes to tech adoption, tech purchases and app implementation.

CMOs Enter the Tech Purchasing Decision-Making Process

Businesses are well aware of the importance of marketing expertise when it comes to tech decisions. That is why CMOs are being given more and more of the tech budget to do with as they see fit. According to a recent Gartner survey, in 2018 nearly 1/3 of CMO budgets were allocated to marketing technology. They are being encouraged by their companies to spend money when needed to take advantage of technology to increase revenue. The fact that they are getting such a sizeable chunk of the budget for tech demonstrates the importance of tech—but it also shows that CMOs are being expected to make more technology decisions.

All major business purchasing decisions should be made only after considering ROI. Fully examining the potential ROI on many tech decisions these days means involving revenue focused executives, particularly CMOs. Increasing revenue may require a range of tech-related tools and functions, including making insights from data to determine customer behavior, communicating effective marketing messages and managing all the wide range of touch points customers travel through. Tech makes all these things possible and efficient. Marketing insight ensures that a company can get the most out of these concepts while maintaining a positive relationship with customers. In the end, there is no way around the need for CMOs to contribute to the process.

Tech Decisions Should Not Be Limited to One Area of Expertise—CMO or CIO

Back when tech decisions were limited to highly-technical areas like networking, OS management, security, etc., it made sense for the most technically proficient executives to take full control over tech decisions for a business. The CIO knew how to handle these issues and did not need to explain them to anyone other than his or her IT team. However, the overlap of technology in business and the necessity of tech for revenue generation mean that many tech decisions are better made in cooperation with multiple departments, rather than under the direction of a single department.

It might be easy to assume that because so much of the exciting technology employed right now by businesses is marketing oriented that CMOs will take over most of the technology decision-making process. But it would be foolish to put all that responsibility on the CMO. Not only does the CMO have far too much on his or her plate to take full responsibility for all tech decisions, but businesses are also far better served by the concept of “two heads are better than one” in such situations.

Combining Expertise—CMOs Working with CIOs

A lot of change is happening in the business world with all this new technology and responsibilities are shifting along with it. However, the fact remains that CMOs know a lot about marketing and hopefully a little about technology, while CIOs know a lot about technology and possibly a little about marketing. The expertise of each group should be leveraged by businesses, and ideally, the knowledge of each group will be expanded by working together. CMOs and CIOs can team up to facilitate change and growth in their respective businesses that will benefit everyone in the long term.

Collaboration is important for so many reasons. CMOs are growing more knowledgeable about technology and martech in particular, but they should not be expected to become experts in it. Expertise in marketing is hard enough to obtain and to maintain. As CIOs work with CMOs, their knowledge of marketing and how it related to technology will increase. But they will at heart remain tech experts. Fortunately, when they combine their expertise they can accomplish greater things than they ever could individually.

Eventually, CMOs and CIOs can come to work in tandem, providing insights for one another and increasing the effectiveness of technology for their businesses.

Increased Responsibility and Increased Collaboration

The future of CMOs is one of increased responsibility and increased collaboration with CIOs. The possibilities are numerous and exciting to consider, and businesses can look forward to even better revenue generating opportunities based on new tech in the coming years.