Why Marketing is Dipping Into the IT Department’s Budget

or “The CMO Took My Budget,” said every IT Director

budgetWhen I began my career in Marketing, it was exactly what I had pictured, the world of advertising in the simplest of forms – selling print space for a prominent magazine and, every once in a while, tossing in a newsletter listing.

(cue the oooos…ahhhs)

I made the move to online marketing and figured that working on campaign development, throwing around ideas on new widgets and interactive sweepstakes would be the mecca of my technology experience. I had no idea what an API (Application Programming Interface) was, let alone expected to find myself using the phrase “we just need an open API” on more than one occasion in my life.

But more than anything, I certainly never expected to see myself sitting across from an IT Director explaining why Marketing needed more of their technology budget.

According to Gartner’s 2014 Technology Predictions:  

Budgets are moving into the purview of the CMO.  Through 2016, the CMO budget will drive additive software spending with the spend generating from the CIO budget. By 2017, the CMO could control more IT spending than the CIO.

It’s hard to argue with this observation.  These days, when you attend any marketing webinar, conference or tweet jam (I’ll explain that one to ya later), you’ll hear Marketing’s definition has evolved to include data integration, new analytical skills, mobility, automation software, and data sourcing. All vocabulary words that you’d previously find riddled amid the spreadsheets of an IT budget.

Discussing the Budget with Your Organization’s Decision Makers

The Chief Marketing Officer is starting to find their place at that o-so-uncomfortable budget table amongst organization decision makers like the CFO who is looking for the smallest spend and the CEO who is looking for the quickest ROI.

This development is a direct result of the handful of aces that CMO’s can now bring to the table – including more easily digested metrics that show the conversion rates these technologies can quickly churn into new business. Even more so, marketing technology is limiting their risk by lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) as most of their data driven technology investments are term or subscription-based as opposed to licensing, which is, of course, appealing to the CFO.

So, Where Does this Leave the CIO? 

Are they throwing their hands up, emptying their pockets and walking away quietly?  Not so much.

It’s time to recognize the opportunity IT leaders have to get closer with CMO’s. And while this may seem difficult when dollars are on the line, if you approach the shift as more of a union of the two departments, innovation will begin to flow both ways.

The companies that take this approach will find themselves adapting more quickly to this new world, finding unique solutions to business critical needs.

How Marketing and IT Can Move Forward, Together

I suggest developing hybrid roles with cross performance functionality to assist in the intertwining of roadmap priorities.  You can already find Marketing Technologist and Marketing Operations Director titles creeping into job boards.

If you’re not ready to go all-in with a new position, baby steps along the way can make a big impact.

Pairing Marketing and IT with a Little Help from the CIO

Consider how you can get IT involved in some of Marketing’s purchase decisions today. If CIO’s dive deeper into marketing investments, perhaps you will find a common buy-in across the board.  Investments will be made more strategically and the cost behind trial and error may become minimized with input from experts in the field. At the very least, it should enable IT to support the requirements of the technology investments being made.

Keep in Mind, This is a Two-Way Street

I encourage CIO’s to get closer to their CMO’s budgets as well. If there is a true partnership between the two, how could you optimize items such as the typically large lead generation budget?  Marketers are spending big dollars on collecting and analyzing customer data, when at times that gold mine could be sitting down the hall.  Double dare you to go talk to them…








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