By Paul Bamforth, UK Country Manager, Projectplace

Gartner predicts that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs in just over three years from now. It’s clear that now more than ever before, marketers must get data savvy and increase their understanding and use of technology.

Technology is driving change across all areas of business, and traditional marketing practises need to ‘upgrade’ to stay up to speed with this more complex landscape. It’s common knowledge that we’re on the cusp of technology driven change across industries, but how can marketing professionals take advantage, and best utilize ‘The Cloud?’

With markets increasingly interconnected across the globe, marketers face much tougher conditions than they did a decade ago. The explosion of online channels and transformation of consumer behaviour combined with the vast range of devices readily available is putting traditional marketing under pressure. On a basic level the ability to keep track and project manage across locations has become increasingly complex. As such, the landscape that the current marketing manager is working in has shifted. According to research by the Boston Consulting Group, managers in complex organisations currently spend 40% of their time reporting and 60% coordinating meetings. This clearly is an inefficient use of time.

CMOs need to be able to free up resources from routine tasks in order to address the changing nature of strategic marketing challenges. New technology, particularly sophisticated cloud solutions, can provide managers with exactly this kind of smart support system. Cloud solutions have enormous potential both in the B2B and B2C arenas. They should no longer just be seen as niche solutions but rather as platforms facilitating core business functionality. It is not only basic software such as mail clients and word processing but a common work platform providing an online office to collaborate, share ideas, task and make plans. It is about the mind-set of marketers. By exploring what cloud and new technologies provide, marketers, PR pros, art directors and web communicators stay sharp and competitive. You cannot trust that the CIO has the answers for your highly specialised and rapidly changing environment.

Worldwide spend on public IT cloud services will total nearly $100 billion by 2016 (International Data Corporation) as businesses see the the ability of cloud solutions to enable flexible mobile working, immediate interaction and transparency. Marketers should ideally seek a solution that offers real-time campaign status overviews, document sharing, access from smartphones, laptops and tablets and the flexibility of ‘rolling-wave’ planning – being able to modify plans on the shared platform in response to changes in the campaign. Agile frameworks like this maximise team efficiency, to facilitate the effective management of the more complex marketing arena.

What is more, cloud solutions are infinitely scalable and elastic, so by moving to the cloud, marketers are future-proofing their business. The cloud is also cost-effective, allowing marketers to pay only for what they use, with the option to invite more members as campaigns grow. And while the cloud is a piece of sophisticated technology, it is one which is specifically designed to be user-friendly. Thus, marketers can harness the offerings of technology without needing the complex understanding of IT systems required to host, maintain or update the platform themselves.

Investing in cloud technology may not be a top priority for marketers. Why spend on infrastructure, rather than campaigning? The sheer number of channels and devices now used by consumers to interact online – and in person requires a change in the role of CMOs and marketing organisations. It’s high time the fields of tech and marketing come together if marketers hope to manage the growing complexity of marketing demands. And marketers: if you get going with the tools, the mind-set will follow.