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CMO vs CIO, and the Impact on Funding Innovation

Kimberly Whitler, in a recent series on the CMO-CIO partnership in Forbes, showed the importance of those partnerships at a strategic level on whether or not organizations acheive their goals.

What was not discussed, however, were the "devils in the details": the tactical issues impacting organizational ability to fund the innovation needed. Marketing operational excellence and cost optimization-specifically technology asset optimization, whether IT assets or marketing technology assets-are directly implicated in an organization's ability to fund innovation. As Ms. Whitler noted, "Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, famously prognosticated that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by the year 2017."

Those organizations where CMOs and CIOs are "business-first" and aligned are strategically ready to outpace their competition. Funding potential innovation during a time of continued cost pressure is, however, a non-trivial challenge.

One way for CMOs to take a leadership role in funding innovation is by partnering with the CIO on IT cost optimization. "Lights on" infrastructure-as-usual spending on IT assets can hide waste in plain sight, even in those organizations with a reputation for operational excellence.

Some productive areas for waste reduction include:

Software license management. In an age of virtualized machines and Cloud software, it's easy for organizations to overspend on applications that are duplicated, underused, or not used at all. These costs go beyond over-paying for licenses-they extend to support, maintenance, and hosting for software that can be decommissioned with no negative impact on the organization.
Hardware asset management. It's no longer a simple matter of spreadsheet tracking to accurately identify and meter usage for hardware. In a modern enterprise, endpoints are as varied as servers (including virtualized and clustered machines), storage devices, desktops, mobile devices. Adding complexity: those employees and contractors who use their own devices within an IT estate. If, as Gartner stated, 5% to 10% of hardware costs can be cut through rationalization, hardware asset management provides a target-rich environment for funding innovation.
Outsourced IT infrastructure management. Many organizations outsource part or all of their IT infrastructure. While procurement and IT may have negotiated aggressive contracts with outsource vendors, CMOs may be driving their own vendor sources. And the access and transparency needed to audit outsourced IT costs is often lacking. But the waste (and savings) can be significant-in some cases, in the millions of dollars.

As CMOs and CIOs seek alignment to help move their organizations forward, they should consider taking pragmatic action now on waste reduction. Through a 360 degree view of the technology infrastructure in both Marketing and IT, IT cost optimization scenarios can be modeled for their impact, and innovation can be funded.

In my role at Scalable Software, I see how our clients use software asset management tools, endpoint discovery and metering tools, and agentless Cloud-based asset management tools to wring waste out of IT infrastructure and free up resources for innovation.

FYI, Scalable has posted an online IT cost optimization calculator for modeling software licensing savings-no registration is needed to rough out some areas of potential savings. I hope some of the CMOs reading this article will take advantage of the chance to fund new approaches to their markets and their audiences by cutting waste, without cutting needed technologies and tools.