This sponsored post is produced by Workfront.
In the time I spent writing this article, I received two more emails promoting some new piece of technology that’s “guaranteed” to revolutionize my marketing activities. I get at least a dozen pitches a week, promising to double my email subscriber list or drive high-quality social referral traffic to my site.
It’s a whole new cloud-based world. And chief marketing officers (CMOs) are required to be far more tech-savvy than ever before as we navigate solutions for customer relationship management, marketing automation, web tools, and more than 120 digital marketing channels.
As a CMO, I technically could purchase and deploy any number of these software solutions all by myself — especially if it’s inexpensive and doesn’t require integration — but that doesn’t mean the chief information officer (CIO) should be left out in the rain.
In fact, I’ve identified five key areas where CIO involvement is critical to the ultimate success of marketing initiatives.
1. Stamp of approval for software solutions
Fifteen years ago, IT was the sole gatekeeper of all software. The SaaS revolution has enabled marketers to purchase and deploy new tech without having to get in the IT queue and wait to rise to the top of the priority list. But there’s a downside: you could pick the wrong solution, overpay for it, and cause security issues that affect the health of the whole company.
Ideally, the CMO should initiate the research on available tech solutions and narrow it down to a short list, if not a single finalist, and then invite the IT team to evaluate the choice in terms of security, integration, and price. When you approach your CEO to request approval on a big tech spend, your odds of success skyrocket if you already have the CIO’s stamp of approval.
2. Security analysis
In marketing, most solutions you’ll procure these days will require moving sensitive data up into the cloud. Despite press reports to the contrary, you are probably already convinced that the vast majority of cloud-based data centers have cutting-edge security — far superior to the server room you have on premises. Nevertheless, marketers are not security experts and should not simply take the vendor’s word for it. The IT team eats, sleeps, and breathes security all day long. Not only do you want the most paranoid employees in your company to approve of your choice, you’ll also want documentation that they performed an audit in order to protect you in the rare case that there’s a security issue down the road.
3. Tech contract negotiation
Your CIO has probably been negotiating tech contracts for the last 20 years — far longer tdhan the typical marketer has ever dealt with. Allow the IT team to apply that experience and expertise to your software buy; they are bound to have a few tricks up their sleeve that will get you the best possible price for the features you need.
4. Tech training
Not all marketers are necessarily gifted when it comes to technology, especially those who reside on the more creative end of the skill spectrum. Rather than engaging in a “blind-leading-the-blind” situation, with marketers trying to troubleshoot a new software system and teach each other how to use it, recruit help from your IT team, whose experience is both broader and deeper.
5. Daily collaboration
Whether your website is primarily a marketing tool or not, and whether your tech and web development resources report in to the CMO or the CIO, marketing and tech teams are increasingly joined at the hip. Collaboration has to happen daily, if not hourly, and not just when there’s a new SaaS solution to deploy. A siloed environment will serve no one. Some type of virtual or cloud-based collaboration tool is essential for fostering a healthy, open relationship and providing the right amount of visibility to both teams and the organization at large.
A changing relationship
Although the dynamics have changed, the smartest CMOs realize that while the CIO is no longer the sole technology gatekeeper, he is still an invaluable ally. Forward-thinking CIOs have adapted their thinking from, “Hey, you can’t buy this without me,” to “How can I support you in your tech-procurement decisions?”
A healthy, transparent relationship between geeks and creatives is still the best way to ensure that marketing tech solutions get approval from the CEO and CFO, provide the proper security features, are purchased at the right price, and have any chance of living up to that ubiquitous “we-can-revolutionize-your-marketing-activities” promise.
For a deeper discussion about how marketing and IT executives can make cross-functional, cross-methodology teams work without the fisticuffs, join Workfront and Venture Beat for a “Marketing Meets IT: How Creative and Tech Can Work Together” webinar on July 9th.
Joe Staples is CMO at Workfront.
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