Does SaaS, Cloud Make the CMO the CIO?

CIOs and CMOs need to partner to meet the needs of the business

With marketing efforts increasingly being driven by technology, are cloud services and SaaS-based applications taking power away from CIOs and giving it to chief marketing officers (CMOs)? That’s the take in a great piece by CIO titled “Does the Rise of the CMO Threaten CIOs?”

Poor IT. It was once The Great Wall of China in that nothing got through without its approval. Then the Web came making it easy to download non-IT-sanctioned applications on to a work computer. The bring-your-own-device trend rendered moot IT’s role in controlling who got smart phones or tablets. (Thankfully, BYOD also means IT doesn’t have to pay for the devices.) Now, there are the marketing folks down the hall eating IT’s budget and brining in critical services right under its nose. Everyone seems to be making an end-run around IT.

As the CIO piece outlines, there are two trends driving marketing’s increased use of technology and overall importance in many organizations. First is the obvious cloud computing/SaaS trend that allows marketing (or any department) to go out and just buy the services it needs. Blog platform? Can get that via SaaS. CRM system? That too. Email marketing? Yup. If the CMO has the dollars, they can pretty much get the technology they want without even walking by the IT group.

The second trend is even more important. Technological advances in marketing have made the profession less of an art and more of a science. By tracking open rates, click throughs, page views, conversions and all sorts of metrics, marketing organizations can now prove its tactics work. That brings more clout and ability to ask for and receive more IT budget. As Gartner points out, every budget is becoming an IT budget.

(Note: For those not in the profession, marketing was typically the lowest of the low when it comes to priority for IT projects, usually battling for the bottom spot with editorial groups at publications.)

Does this mean the CIOs office is being marginalized? It shouldn’t. If a marketing staff member can’t get access to the email marketing service, they’re not going to the CMO for help, they’re going to ask IT. Then there’s the whole issue of security and compliance. Cloud and SaaS services are great, but does the CMO know to vet a possible vendor for security issues? What about where the data resides? Some industries have strict regulations around how and where certain information is stored.

The secret to success is held in the last paragraph of the CIO article:

Proactive CIOs and CMOs will figure out how to work together productively, and as a result, both should be in a much better position to prove their value to the organization. After all, they’ll have more data to prove their worth, and as that data continues to pile up, who else is going to manage the explosion?

IT must understand the needs of all aspects of the business and be proactive in meeting them. If not, the business will continue to find ways to bypass IT.

Do you work well with business groups in your organization? Tweet us @CAsvcAssur.

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Jason Meserve

About Jason Meserve

Jason Meserve has been working in high-tech for over 15 years. He built his tech resume in the 10 years he spent as a journalist at Network World, where he created everything from articles, features, blogs, videos and podcasts. Mr. Meserve is currently a Principal Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies where he focuses on Service Assurance solutions including Application Performance Management. Mr. Meserve has also held marketing and editorial positions at Constant Contact and Application Development Trends.


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