How much IT spend is now being driven by CMOs?

October 16, 2017 Latané Conant


In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017, CMOs will be spending more on tech than CIOs. In 2016, Gartner confirmed this prediction, writing that in “2016, CMOs allocated 3.24 percent of revenue to technology spending, which is very close indeed to the 3.4 percent of revenue CIOs earmark for IT.” The analyst firm explains that marketing technology has now become one of the core technology systems that run a business. They write: “Customer preferences and behaviors have changed and buying journeys are increasingly self-directed and digitally led. Which means that, more than ever, multichannel marketing is among the most critical customer-facing, revenue-generating functions.”

At Appirio, we believe that Customer Experience (CX) has indeed emerged as what Gartner calls “the competitive battlefield”, and that technology is at the forefront of creating personalized experiences. For example, we have seen a rise in the need for marketing technologies that enable data-driven decision making; tools that can pull and analyze customer data. In today’s digital landscape, marketers who can automate the timing, channel, and content of each communication with customers will stand the greatest chance for success.

I’m fortunate that at Appirio we drink our own champagne, so to speak, and early on went all-in on cloud platforms. So the base technology, master data management strategy, and governance are all there and leveraged across sales, marketing, delivery, and the executive team. This is a huge advantage, because adding smaller applications onto the core — especially if they are appexchange partners or built natively in Salesforce — is much easier and cost-effective.

Even with this advantage, it’s challenging. We’ve had to adjust our spend towards technology, making strategic investments to improve Customer Experience and demand generation. It’s the creation of digital experiences and digital assets that drive these investments, and can quickly consume a CMO’s entire budget (and then some) if she is not careful.

The following steps can be used to manage investments:

Look for pre-built applications and templates wherever possible. Configuring these is always much easier than building from scratch. Of course with thousand of providers in the market it can be daunting and very fragmented.

Find real partners. We have found bigger is not better. Often the smaller firms have better focus and expertise — and are much easier to work with. Our test is to ask: Do they share our values? Do we trust the people and culture of this firm?

Build capabilities internally. We’ve invested a lot in creating a marketing center of excellence in Jaipur, India to help support us. The skills, response time, and enthusiasm of that team are top notch. This allows us to scale up and create the highly customized digital experiences we want for our customers and prospects — without breaking the bank.

Look beyond what’s cool, en vogue, or a string of buzzwords. Is this helping customers understand what we do? Is this fostering better relationships with customers? Is this personalized for our market? Is it easy to use? Those are the questions we ask to determine where to spend.

The rise in marketing technology investment is not driven by CX alone, it’s also driven by the need to amplify Worker Experience. The CMO of today understands that one of the most important CX ingredients is an engaged workforce, and is partnering with the CHRO to bring great technology to workers.


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