Open-source software: A CMO’s competitive advantage

January 13th, 2020
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 bubbles. As stacks overlap, it’s essential 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 a minimal say in their company’s technology selections. However, the marketing team has increasingly needed 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, contributing 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 costs, 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 various 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 these factors influence a CMO’s decisions regarding the procurement of tools and technologies. But while it might feel exhausting to account for all of these other priorities, choosing open-source software makes it quite simple to check the boxes mentioned above.
For example, consider how Drupal is 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 common parts. 
Drupal has a worldwide community of highly involved contributors, which helps CMOs serve (or tap into) users and talent in various markets. Due to this community of freelancers and agencies, a vast pool of expertise 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 are readily available to your organization at no cost. And because Drupal is built by web developers, for web developers, there is a firm adherence to the industry’s best practices and standards. 
Though we’ve used Drupal as an example, plenty of other open-source software (many of which have commercial backing) offer the same capabilities. Ultimately, open source provides several competitive advantages to CMOs. Contact us to learn more about how open source can meet your team’s specific needs. 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.