Here we go again

CIO.com publisher Adam Dennison disagrees with Gartner's conclusion that CMOs have larger technology budgets than CIOs. He says a sneak peek at the findings of CIO.com’s 2017 State of the CIO survey reveals that 54 percent of all enterprise spending is through corporate IT.

In 2012, Gartner originally made the claim that by 2017 CMOs would have larger IT budgets than CIOs. I first learned of this from a webcast hosted by Gartner analyst Laura McLellan. At the time, it grabbed headlines and brought Nick Carr’s “IT Doesn’t Matter” article from the May 2003 issue of the Harvard Business Review into sharp focus.

Now, as we inch closer to ringing in 2017, I can confidently say that very few, if any, CMOs have larger technology budgets than their CIO colleagues. Moreover, I am certain that IT matters more today than it ever has.

Gartner sees things differently. In October the research firm came out with new findings to back up its CMO/CIO budget prediction. Gartner claims that CIOs spend 3.4 percent of company revenue on IT and that CMOs spend 3.2 percent of company revenue on IT — and that the number is rising. These figures don’t add up for me, though, and they’re not in line with what I’ve learned in conversations with dozens of enterprise CIOs.

With technology becoming ubiquitous throughout the enterprise, I don’t understand how spending on marketing technology will surge so far ahead of operations, HR, finance, supply chain, security, etc. combined. A sneak peek at the findings of CIO.com’s 2017 State of the CIO survey of more than 600 IT executives reveals that 54 percent of all enterprise spending is through corporate IT and the remaining 46 percent is spread fairly evenly among various business units.

I think the real news isn’t about which departments are using more technology or who carries the specific budget. Rather, it’s about how technology purchasing decisions are being made and whether the various business heads are collaborating. Many forward-thinking CIOs who are comfortable in their positions and highly respected within their organizations have told me it doesn’t matter where the funding for an initiative comes from; what matters is how and when departments collaborate.

CMOs (and many other executives) don’t think about the integration, security and risk associated with IT projects; CIOs still deal with those matters. Additionally, CIOs should have visibility across the entire enterprise. And from that vantage point, they should be able to identify other parts of the business that could benefit from specific technology initiatives. We’re all well aware that this approach can yield efficiencies — and possibly better deals from vendors.

While I admire Gartner for not backing away from its prediction, I think the real headline news is this: “C-level executives increase collaboration to drive business innovation.” It isn’t very catchy, but I think it more accurately reflects the real shift that’s taking place in enterprises today.

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