The role of Chief Marketing Officer has certainly evolved over the last five to 10 years.  One might argue that the ever increasing encroachment of technology-enabled marketing has forced the traditional CMO to behave more like a CIO in many ways.

Last year, Gartner Group put out a startling statistic that by the year 2017 the CMO would spend more on technology than the CIO.  Really?  Having lead marketing teams in years past, I can tell you, we had to beg, borrow, and steal to get any kind of meaningful technology outside of an excel spreadsheet.

But the times, they are a-changin’.  Marketing teams are deploying a myriad of cutting edge tech designed to identify, track, manage and nurture leads through the middle of the sales funnel.  This is in direct response to fundamental changes in how buyers research and evaluate products and services online.

Today, as much as 70 percent of a sales cycle is self-directed and completed by a prospect before they engage with a live salesperson.  Because of this trend, marketing departments have jumped head first into the technology pool and are now as part of the application enterprise at a company as IT.

With that said, marketing automation platforms have skyrocketed in popularity and adoption, primarily because they afford a marketing team a single data base from which to manage campaigns, leads and analytics.  The CMO’s view of these platforms is not unlike a CIO’s view of CRM or ERP.  The system is mission-critical to achieving goals and objectives of the department.  However, marketing systems are no longer thought of as departmental or stand-alone.

CMOs should realize that marketing automation is no longer a departmental tool.  It is an enterprise-class solution that has a direct impact on top-line revenue – probably more so than CRM.  One of the key considerations in purchasing marketing automation will be how well it integrates with CRM and the ability to extract revenue analytics that drive the business as a whole.

While the new normal for a CMO is that they adopt management principles formerly relegated to CIOs, many marketers struggle with seeing technology beyond the feature/functions that are interested to them personally.

Proof of this lies in the fact that many marketing departments continue to purchase and patch together disparate technologies based on short-term need – I need to track blogs so let me go out and purchase an SEO analytics tool.  I don’t have a budget for this so we’ll go with the coolest tool for least cost. This mindset must change as marketing comes into the enterprise tech fold and the CMO must take a long-term approach to deploying marketing automation platforms in the same way that CIOs deployed CRM systems and CFOs deployed ERP systems.

Welcome to the party CMOs.