by Tom Kaneshige

It’s Risky Business When CMOs Tackle Tech Alone

Oct 14, 20143 mins

Marketing executives who think they should make technology decisions without the CIO are gambling that nothing will go wrong, says Forrester.

risky business cmo cio
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There’s a reason why marketers keep IT in the dark about marketing tech purchases. The geeks will put the tech vendor through an obscene, jargon-filled laundry list of requirements and testing that will drag the sales cycle for months. Marketers won’t be able to get their hands on the technology until it’s too late — that is, after competitors beat them to the punch.

But is there a downside to not involving IT?

Forrester thinks so. Here are three things that can and will go wrong with shadow IT.

1. Anyone who has had to rip out the battery of a frozen laptop in order to restart it understands that technology never works as advertised. Enterprise technology is no different. (Have you ever heard of an ERP project that went smoothly?)

Unfortunately, marketers tend to accept the flowery vendor pitch as gospel only to feel the pain of technology that has failed to live up to its promises. CIOs, however, know what questions to ask and can temper expectations.

Forrester found that “CMOs who go it alone often overlook key integration points to provide a consistent customer experience across all enterprise touchpoints. CMOs who are not involved in technology design, decision-making and management risk creating an infrastructure that does not tightly align to the marketing vision.”

2. CIOs are great at calculating the cost of technology and coming up with a realistic return on investment. It’s not as easy as a marketing technology (or martech) cloud services vendor pitching a simple subscription fee makes it sound. One could get a doctorate degree in Microsoft licensing.

New technology has all sorts of follow-on costs, from integration to training to replacement to total cost of ownership. Forrester has a clever acronym for ongoing outlays: MOOSE, or the cost to maintain and operate the organization, systems and equipment.

The Forrester report states: “Without the skills and experience needed to keep these costs under control, MOOSE expenses can quickly outweigh the business benefits that new technology investments promise.”

3. When a martech vendor underperforms, many CMOs find themselves locked into a long-term commitment, a soured relationship and no recourse. If the CMO involved the CIO before signing on the dotted line, chances are good that the CIO negotiated contract outs as well as an ironclad service level agreement.

The Forrester report states: “When contract renewals come up, a lack of active management may lose the opportunity to improve contract terms and prices simply because technology management falls lower on the CMO’s to-do list.”

Bottom line: CMOs who go it alone do so at their own risk. And when it comes to technology, something almost assuredly will go wrong.