Open-source software: A CMO’s competitive advantage

Open-source software: A CMO’s competitive advantage

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Thought byTassos Koutlas
January 13, 2020
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Gone are the days when a company’s technology lived in silos: as the global landscape changes, so do the tools. Sales, marketing, and IT are no longer in their own bubbles. As stacks overlap, it’s important to understand which stakeholders are involved in making technology decisions, and why.

The evolution of technology has led to a simultaneous rise of specialized knowledge and a blurring of the line between teams. Traditionally, marketing departments have had minimal say in their company’s technology selections. Increasingly, however, the marketing team has needed to have input on their employer’s digital tools and processes since they impact the team’s ability to get their jobs done. These technologies, in turn, need support and maintenance from technology and IT teams, and contribute to the total cost of technology ownership across the organization.

For many organizations, open-source content management systems (CMS) are proving an excellent investment of resources. An open-source CMS like Drupal can reduce technology cost, increase team agility, and improve data transparency so that the CMO and marketing team can get more out of their marketing efforts.

Technology and the CMO’s agenda

As organizations prepare for the 2020s and all of the changes coming in the next decade, many CMOs are increasing their digital team sizes to handle an array of channels such as search, social, affiliate marketing, and so on. Those teams in turn need their employer to invest in a new digital experience ecosystem for orchestrating marketing automation campaigns, managing content and assets, and offering a personalized visitor experience to increase customer loyalty.

Based on a recent study from Deloitte Review, the CMO’s agenda is increasingly influenced by the following high-level goals:

  • Collect customer data glean insights from the information
  • Be able to demonstrate a quantitative impact
  • Increase the organization’s talent pool with digital capabilities
  • Build a digital experience ecosystem

Those four goals, plus the new team/platform hybrid, dovetail very neatly with the priorities of the open-source CMS industry. Systems like Drupal are specifically configured to allow teams to use data to better understand users and drive quantifiable results. 

However, choosing tools can be tricky, since government initiatives such GDPR, ePrivacy and CCPA make data compliance a necessity for the marketing team. This means that now more than ever, CMOs must work more closely with their technology counterparts to increase their understanding of how their organization's digital technology functions.

Though introducing new tools can create friction between marketing and technology departments, open-source technology is designed to reduce fragmentation, provide better security and privacy controls, and eliminate vendor lock-in, so that an organization’s teams can work better, together.

Technology as long-term growth enabler

So how do you make sure that your technology will enable, not inhibit, your long-term growth? The answer lies in three main premises that technology needs:

1. Scalable and agile. Modern organizations need to quickly react to evolving market needs and be able to move rapidly. This means they need technologies that have a scalable infrastructure and a secure operating model that respects users’ privacy. Open source technologies are built with scalability and agility in mind, and are constructed to be as flexible as possible.

2. Available pool of expertise. For organizations adopting new technology, access to expertise is critical, both for configuring/maintaining the platform, and for training your staff. To grow and scale, your team needs to be able to use the technology— and they won’t be able to if there’s nobody available to teach them. Most importantly, well-constructed open source technologies will allow you to benefit from transferable skills that your people may already have.

3. Work on your own terms. Whether it is in-house, outsourcing, insourcing, near-shoring or any hybrid model, you need a technology (and technologists) that can operate the way you need. The global nature of open source software, especially Drupal, allows your team to work according to your own unique needs, without risking the quality of delivery for the tools.

Getting the right mix

All of these different factors end up influencing a CMO’s decisions regarding the procurement of tools and technologies. But while it might feel exhausting trying to account for all of these different priorities, choosing an open source software actually makes it quite simple to check the boxes mentioned above.

For example, consider how Drupal acts as the foundational basis of a Digital Experience Platform. Drupal is built to be incredibly customizable, so that organization can tailor the application to their particular needs— and pay only for what they use. Drupal’s thriving community means that there’s also free support, maintenance and security releases for the parts that are common. 

Drupal has a worldwide community of highly involved contributors, which helps CMOs serve (or tap into) users and talent in a wide variety of markets. Due to this community of freelancers and agencies, there is a vast pool of expertise that can support projects of any scale, spanning any region of the world.

With a global, widely-used platform like Drupal, your team won’t be locked-in with a particular vendor or supplier. The cost of change is low and gives you more control. Additionally, with open source software like Drupal, code and documentation is readily available to your organization at no cost. And because Drupal is built by web developers, for web developers, there is a strong adherence to the industry’s best practices and standards. 

Though we’ve used Drupal as an example, there are plenty of other open source softwares (many of which with commercial backing) that offer the same capabilities. Ultimately, open source offers a number of competitive advantages to CMOs. To learn more about how open source can meet your team’s specific needs, contact us. We’re here to help you figure out how to configure your digital toolkit so that your organization (and all of its teams) can truly shine.