How CMOs Can Make Smart Technology Investments in 2017

January 12, 2017 — by Mary Casey    

This post originally appeared on IBM’s THINK Marketing blog.

Fact: CMOs are increasingly making enterprise-level technology decisions. They are expected to outspend CIOs for the first time ever by 2017, according to Gartner. And with the research firm’s latest CMO Spend Survey, conducted with 377 marketers at from North America and the U.K., we have a clearer idea of where exactly marketing leaders plan to make their investments. A few highlights from the survey, released in October:

  • Web, digital commerce and digital advertising were the top three categories for marketing spend in 2016
  • Two-thirds plan to up spending on digital advertising next year
  • In 30 percent or more companies, certain IT, sales and customer experience functions now report into marketing
  • Only a quarter of IT organizations have maintained control over martech capital investments

Even though marketing is controlling more of the technology budget, getting these investments right is not a walk in the park. The zenith is addressable, real-time, outcomes-oriented marketing, and not all platforms are up to the task. With all the technology choices in the ecosystem today, it’s important for CMOs to look for two critical components in their platforms to ensure they are making smart technology investments and can tie marketing efforts back to business outcomes.

1) An open, extensible platform: A single, open platform that can be integrated allows for a streamlined workflow through one UI. It should have a few key features:

  • Customer-centricity, rather than channel-centricity, so marketers can make decisions in alignment with customer needs across channels. This requires deep supply reach, omnichannel execution and the ability to manage a holistic media plan within a single UI that provides integrated and normalized workflows, execution and reporting for a united view of the customer across channels to allow optimizing back to the marketers’ true business outcomes.
  • Real-time capability to react to consumers as they shop, browse and consume content and enable integrated audience management and omnichannel execution at scale. This ideally allows the ability to identify users across devices and adapt to their changing behaviors in real time, with an intelligence engine that ensures what happens in audience informs what happens in media and vice-versa.
  • Flexibility so marketers can use other software systems or solutions, often through APIs that allow integration. Customers can use these APIs for themselves or make them available to the broader ecosystem. This unprecedented level of customization gives clients the ability to create the right tech stack for their needs.

2) Connecting adtech and martech: The breakdown of silos across paid and owned media has become possible thanks to the interconnection of automated systems on both sides, to orchestrate the very seamless, relevant consumer experiences marketers are trying to effect. CMOs will increasingly be able to broker these connections to drive competitive advantage and boost ROI across both paid and owned media. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Get executive support for your martech and adtech strategy and start connecting your paid media and owned media teams.
  • Look for connections that are easier to implement. Think marketing technology platforms with built-in functionality to allow digital marketers to extend email campaigns to paid media through a single UI.
  • Adopt an identity management solution so you know who your consumers are across devices. Your conversations will get smarter as a result because you’ll know their shopping and content consumption behavior across all the devices, whether you engage with them first in email and continue in display or hit them on mobile first. You’ll also improve measurement and optimization of spend across channels.