To understand this question better, we need to look at how the internal workings of today’s organizations are changing from the tech decision-making standpoint. Companies are becoming more digital, and often they are forced to adopt new technologies due to the demands management and even rank and file employees, the ones influencing change through practices like BYOD.
The Enterprise Tech Buying Process is Changing
Marketers may be tempted to shift their attention from the CIO to the CMO, considering that tech purchase decisions made in the C-suite are now happening with or without the CIO’s ok. While I do believe that CMOs are playing a significant role in tech buying, they are not the sole factor in the equation. At least not yet. Quite honestly, I don’t think they are ever going to be. Why is that? Because marketing must involve IT when buying sophisticated technologies. Otherwise, when the inevitable SOS calls to the IT folks occur due to systems crashing or denial of service, IT will be coming in blind, and most likely not be of much help. In order to not get trapped in an IT nightmare, the CMO must involve the CIO in any tech purchasing discussions.
It’s important for tech vendors to remember these changes will vary from one organization to another. Some companies may still have the CIO as the final decision maker, with major influence from the CMO, while others may have the chief marketer writing the check after consulting heavily with the IT department. In some cases, the CIO may step in early in the decision-making process or may be involved at a later stage. This means technology vendors looking to target CMOs will need to do so while maintaining strong ties with CIOs, who will continue to play an important role in purchasing decisions for most companies.
New Players in the Tech Purchasing Game
Another important factor to consider is, when it comes to buying marketing technology, is this one: Are CMOs dictating the technology that is used or just the strategy behind their use? This leads us to an emerging category of IT buyers in today’s organizations—the managers and directors working closely with the employees responsible for a company’s daily operations. So, should tech vendors wanting to market to CMOs instead direct their efforts to directors, managers, and VPs, especially when dealing with larger enterprises?
Unfortunately, as usual, the answer is “it depends.” However, there’s one detail tech vendors need to realize—purchase decisions versus influence on purchase decisions aren’t the same thing. While it may be that CMOs are behind the increased investment in technology, they may not be directly involved in deciding what is being purchased. That decision may be coming from elsewhere.
Tech marketers looking to build and nurture better relationships with their enterprise clients need to understand that different buyer categories in the same organization may have different motivations. For instance, a tech solution that seems perfect for stakeholders and senior business leaders may fail to solve the problems of managers or those employees further down in the company’s structure. The idea is to target the right buyers with the right product at the right time.
It’s time for tech marketers to quit looking at clients as “one size fits all.” Frankly, the enterprise tech purchase process is no longer a one-man show. Therefore, to limit marketing efforts with only a CMO or CIO in mind is neither a sensible strategy, nor a successful one.
Additional Resources on this Topic
This article was first published on The Marketing Scope on 8/27/2015.