Technology center of gravity shifting to marketing departments

'The chief marketing officer has become the king of IT without you knowing it.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Adoption of application programming interfaces (APIs) is happening big time outside of IT departments, and perhaps no one is adopting new solutions at a faster rate than the marketing folks. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) may now hold more technology clout than CIOs.

This is the observation of Andy Thurai, a chief architect and group CTO for cloud and middleware for Intel. With the rise of social media, big data, cloud, analytics, online CRM, online advertising, and tools such as Twitter, the CMO now seems to be at the epicenter of the enterprise technology action:

While the CIO budget is shrinking, the CMO budget is bulging. Often, I see instances where a CIO will go to the CMO for help and have them write the check. The CMO has become the king of IT without you knowing it. It helps them to track everything their potential customers are doing. Often they are now responsible for analysis and identifying emerging trends — which of course they can leverage for more effective campaigns. They are now afforded the flexibility to expose their data/content to their revenue generators in any number of ways.

Thurai picks up on a Gartner prediction that asserts that "by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO". CMOs are not only leading the way with new-age technology platforms, but also are in control of a lot of the data — customers, content, and channels.

What's giving CMOs all this new technology juice? Application programming interfaces (APIs), widely available for any and all functions, are driving this parallel IT organization. CMOs may also help reinvent the business as a cloud provider in its own right — even if the business is something other than technology. "A CMO can build APIs using third-party vendors and host them in the cloud to expose the content/data," Thurai predicted. All this without the CIO's consent or knowledge. And CEOs and CFOs may like this new direction, since the CMO's job is all about creating new business.

Is this a good thing? Enterprise technology has become incredibly complex, and it takes very technically proficient individuals to understand and guide the business to invest wisely and avoid costly security errors. Plus, many of the consumerish services being adopted by marketing departments are relatively simple compared to the programming and administration that goes into enterprise IT systems.

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