As CIOs and CMOs increasingly vie for budget dollars, leadership status, and the attention of their CEOs, CIOs would be well advised to get up to speed on the marketing function in order to stay relevant.
That was my key takeaway from a recent conversation with Bonnie Crater, president and CEO of Full Circle CRM, a provider of marketing analytics in San Mateo, Calif. Crater, who has a strong background in both technology and marketing, said IT has some catching up to do on the marketing front.
“IT departments have long developed an understanding of the requirements for every other department except marketing, because few automation solutions were available,” Crater said. “To better serve marketing departments, IT can develop an understanding of marketing requirements and introduce new applications and other technologies to automate and make marketing more effective.”
Crater pointed out that in some ways, marketing has already caught up with IT, and is gaining an advantage.
“In 2012, Laura McClellan of Gartner famously predicted that CMOs will be spending more on IT than CIOs by 2017,“ Crater said. “CMOs are now having much more impact on technology spending than ever before. Driven by CEOs who are demanding more accountability from CMOs for their marketing spend, CMOs are enabled by new cloud-based marketing technologies to automate marketing functions and do an increasingly better job of measuring results. We are now in a digital marketing revolution we have never seen before.”
Consequently, Crater said, CMOs are gaining an advantage.
“As many companies purchase more marketing technology such as marketing automation tools, BI tools, marketing performance management, social listening, and so many more,” she said, “CMOs now have a larger stake in the technology purchasing role because they are most familiar with their own requirements.”
So are there any circumstances under which the CIO should report to the CMO? Crater said she doesn’t think so.
“CIOs should continue to have broad responsibility for supporting technologies across all departments, and be especially focused on securing the company’s digital assets,” she said. “The CIO should work with the CMO to ensure that marketing applications meet security requirements and that effective integrations with other cloud-based services are implemented.”
Crater went on to explain that the role of the CIO has undergone tremendous change because of the cloud.
“With the advent of cloud-based computing, all of a company’s digital applications and assets can be stored in the cloud,” she said. “Consequently, the role of the CIO will be more focused on network and application security, system integration across cloud-based systems, and managing the myriad of end-user devices.”
Interestingly, Crater’s own company targets the CMO with its technology.
“Full Circle markets its products to marketing executives because they evaluate and use our SaaS-based marketing application,” Crater said. “Full Circle enables marketers to tie their campaigns to pipeline and revenue, and gain critical insights into aligning marketing with sales. If IT were to play an initiating role in acquiring marketing applications, we would change our focus.”
And what about Full Circle’s own structure in terms of the CIO/CMO hierarchy? Crater said as CEO, she also fills the roles of CIO and CMO.
“This structure is in place because we are a company of 15 people strong, and the CEO happens to have those skills,” she said. “When we are 500 people strong, we will have a CMO and CIO."
A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.