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The Open Source Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
As a CMO, managing an ever-growing marketing technology stack is the priority in 2019. It can be difficult to find the right technology in a tight budget to help you meet your marketing objectives.

The Open Source Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

The definition of the chief marketing officer’s role has shifted away from simply delivering content. Still, many marketers don’t know how to manage a marketing strategy and a technology stack in unison. Is it possible that open source is the key to connecting technology and strategy?

Why should a CMO care about open source?

Even for marketers, there is no question that the age of open source is upon us. Organizations are increasingly adopting open source software for its numerous advantages over proprietary platforms. As open source becomes ubiquitous, the roles and responsibilities of the CMO are redefined. The marketing department depends more heavily than ever on technology to deliver results. For that reason, marketing executives need to understand return on investment similar to a finance executive and understand digital strategy similar to a chief technology officer, while still performing the activities of a CMO.

Open source technology can be the secret weapon of a marketing team. Open source technology brings about a unique set of benefits that help the CMO to execute on a digital marketing strategy. For one, open source software has a lower total cost of ownership than proprietary technology. Other perks include endless customization, adherence to best practices and standards, as well as integration with nearly any business tool.

The gears of marketing strategy
The open source CMO is involved in every aspect of the organization.

Becoming an open source CMO

Switching to open source requires a change in mentality. With proprietary platforms, a CMO purchases software and asks “how do we capitalize on this investment?” Switching to open source means that software is free of charge, but now the question to ask is “how do I invest in this technology to leverage its capabilities?” An open source CMO is tasked with building the platform needed to accomplish their goals.

The possibilities of open source technologies are limitless. Take Drupal CMS, for example. As an enterprise content management system, Drupal is built with the most ambitious digital projects in mind. The challenge with executing on these projects is efficiency. How can you bring your plans to market in the fastest way while still delivering results?

This is where the open source CMO needs to build a team (internal and external) of experts to support their vision. In an open source framework, the definition of a marketer is more than just a content creator. Every member of the marketing team must have a firm grasp on the technology, understanding how it can be built and extended to take marketing projects to the next level. This can be done by recruiting like-minded individuals to the marketing team, but many organizations leverage the expertise of digital agencies for this purpose.

Bridging the marketing gap

In many organizations, the executive ranks are filled with digital disconnects as a result of the mismatch of authority and expertise. Today’s CMOs need to understand the need for digital assimilation: how can every facet of the organization be brought under one umbrella? Marketing is no longer siloed from the rest of the business. It is the responsibility of the marketing executive to unify the organization under a single customer strategy. This strategy must be aligned directly with the objectives of all other executives, particularly the digital strategy of the CIO.

One way that organizations are doing this is by bringing the organization under a single technology stack. Take Alimentation Couche-Tard, for example. The retail giant’s marketing team led a project to unify a number of intranets under a single, purpose-built Drupal solution. This technology project was spearheaded by a marketing team with a firm grasp on the technology, but it involved stakeholders across the organization. The CMO was able to achieve buy-in from the whole team, and leveraged OPIN’s expertise to execute on Alimentation Couche-Tard’s vision.

Open source is integral to the success of the CMO. In order to bridge the digital disconnects within an organization, proprietary software simply doesn’t suffice. The customization, flexibility, and integration possible with open source are necessary to deliver on a unified digital strategy. Through open source software, marketing executives can connect with customers in new ways, providing a custom, personalized experience across every single touchpoint. More importantly, open source allows organizations to bring a number of disparate digital systems into one place, making it easier to manage every aspect of their digital experience.

Bridging the gap
CMOs must bridge the gap between marketing and the rest of the company.

Long-term marketing strategy

As a CMO, it is crucial to think about the future, even when executing on a short-term strategy. Leveraging the expertise of vast communities of experts, open source secures the future of your digital engagement strategy. The continued development and improvement of open source platforms means that your time, effort and financial investment is safe for the future.

The plans for Drupal are designed to secure the future of the platform for many years. Numerous organizations have been transitioning from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 over the past two years. The open source community recently announced the plan for Drupal 9’s release. With the backing of an open source community in the hundreds of thousands, the timeline for the CMS is public knowledge, allowing marketers to understand the future of their technology stack.

Open source continues to create a better world for marketing executives that want to provide scalable, unified and future-proof technology solutions to the organization. Adopting open source is the future for CMOs, as evidenced by the successes that marketers are having with technologies like Drupal.

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Chris is OPIN's resident marketing scientist. Obsessed with testing and tweaking, he is constantly uncovering new patterns. His obsession with testing helps the agency gain insights for internal marketing campaigns and client projects. His unconventional methods help our readers look at business and marketing concepts in new ways.