Way back in 2012, Gartner Analyst Laura McClellen raised eyebrows with the prediction that, within five years, CMOs would spend more on technology than CIOs. We’re now five years down the road from that prediction, and in spite of the skepticism, that prediction has nearly come true: according to Gartner’s 2016 CMO spend survey, CMOs allocated 3.24 percent of revenue to technology, while CIOs earmaked 3.4 percent of revenue for tech.
Clearly, companies have fully grasped the importance of using data in marketing. There’s a constant desire for marketers to know the customer better, which accounts for the emergence of social media sales data aggregators, marketing solutions that track anonymous Web visitors, and ever-more complex methods for scoring and evaluating prospect behaviors. The marketing technology stack is growing, and it’s building a data empire within companies for their CMOs.
But an empire within a business isn’t necessarily a good thing. The era of the cloud has made it very easy for marketers to deploy software quickly to address specific problems and data needs, often with solutions that trumpet the fact they can be deployed “with no assistance from IT!” as a selling point. That’s great when you’re demoing a technology, but it may lead to immense problems later on.
With IT out of the mix, you run into the peril of “re-siloing” your data. Most companies went through a process over the last decade of breaking down those internal silos and centralizing data so the entire business could use it. However, when new applications come in through a sequence of unrelated decisions made independently by department-level managers – and not through a managed, rationalized system – the danger is that you rebuild the silos you’ve worked so hard to knock down.
That still leaves the CMO with a data empire – but one that’s limited. We’ve spent the last 10 years trying to reorient marketing around customers’ newfound power in their relationships with the companies they buy from; that’s put the emphasis on understanding the customer by recording and analyzing all manner of customer data. That’s been hugely important, but as the pendulum has swung toward the customer it’s caused our attention to drift away from data about sales processes, sales behaviors and other internal indicators of how well companies are meeting customers’ needs. Knowing the customers is not enough if you don’t understand your own responses to them.
If the objective is to become an agile marketing organization, one that can react to changing customer demands and requirements while still
meeting the company’s objectives, the limited view of data from these disconnected systems is not enough.
Marketers tell themselves a lie about having a “360-degree view” of their prospects and customers. When they rely on disconnected marketing technology – or a set of marketing solutions integrated to each other but operating independently from the rest of the company’s solutions – they’re really getting a 360-degree view of the information marketing chooses to receive. Without putting that information into context, acting upon it successfully is difficult.
A fully-connected set of solutions provides far better context for decision making. That may include introducing data from other solutions into the mix: commissions management, CPQ, CLM, sales enablement, finance, and other solutions often thought of as internal or “back office” solutions, even though they directly impact the customer experience in every deal. Including this data in your analysis of marketing effectiveness restores a real-world view of success; lead numbers are nice, but connecting lead information to outcomes and marketing programs to impact on revenues allows marketers to replicate programs that work, turn off programs that are missing the mark, and refine ongoing efforts with the constant goal of remaining relevant and responsive to the customer, even as this customer changes.
And so, the CIO is again becoming relevant to this discussion. Marketers used to throwing SaaS point solutions at their problems don’t have the expertise to blend data sets from throughout the organization for richer analysis; they may not even be aware of the right analytic platforms to examine the data relationships this blending of data reveals. To become truly agile and to use all the data that makes a difference for marketers, they need to slow down a little and partner with the CIO a lot. It may be that some of the solutions marketers brought in via the cloud need to be replaced with others that are easier to integrate, or with solution suites that perform better. It may mean that the CIO needs time to knit systems together. In any case, the goal for the CMO-CIO team should be the ability of marketing to do deep analysis of data from across the entire company – not just from within a marketing stack silo – and understand how to best help the customer and the company.
In an ideal world, a holistic view of the entire customer – from CRM, marketing automation and sales tools to finance and contract management – will enable companies to sell more effectively, build greater loyalty and increase profitability over time. When that happens, it will become less important if the CMO is outspending the CIO, and far more important that the two are working as a team to analyze all the data that matters.