CMO Suites – Missing the Point (Despite Some Analytics)

It has been suggested by recent comments that I have become a standard bearer for content valuation. Admittedly, much of what I have written does seem tied to unusual events, personalities, and costs related to documents. As if there’s a correlation somehow between my opinion and actual life. I’ve recently called out Katherine Bigelow and Edward Snowden as examples of people who understand the potential of documents to help or harm. Now, far be it from me to try to draw any connection between Quentin Tarantino and my company – under normal circumstances, that is.  But the news that an otherwise affable and intelligent auteur has gone over the top due to failed content security compels me to question the rigor of his planning. He sent six copies of a script to six trusted associates and swore them to secrecy. One recipient leaked it to the press. After the anguish and recriminations, the movie he’d been working on for years was shelved – and the millions it would have earned were lost.

Had he simply added a layer of protection to those documents the result would likely have been happier for all. The value of the forfeited opportunity can easily be calculated: Tarantino movies do well at the global box office and continue to generate income from rentals, etc. long afterwards. According to the Motley Fool:

“Assuming a 477% return on a $125 million budget — a modest increase from Django Unchained — that equates to a profit of almost $600 million, and a total box office take of more than $700 million. Of course, that would make The Hateful Eight the new highest-grossing Western of all-time, which isn’t as crazy as it sounds considering Tarantino’s last project.”

Go figure. 600 Million Dollars lost because of failed document protections. Which doesn’t mean each of the six copies is worth $100M, though they would certainly be collectible. You could buy a pretty great document for less.  Sold for $5.12m in 1980, and for $30.8m in 1994, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester is one option. Or maybe a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the handwritten Gettysburg Address manuscript copies along with a Dead Sea Scroll fragment or two. In short, no prior notion of value stands up to the money conjured by today’s business of entertainment.

Yet, despite all the risks (lost value, stained reputations, lawsuits among them), smart people in the present day still think a wax seal serves as security enough for valuable content.


But it isn’t Royals or Popes or even fanciful pre-teens I want most to inform – it’s marketers. In the last several years, CMOs have become a target for technology vendors, industry analysts, and consultants. That’s because they control new or bigger budgets tied to digital customer acquisition (and retention), and updated technology plays a huge role in that investment. It’s the largest shift in spend in decades – and is matched in some industries by other shifts in reporting structures and titles. CMOs now have their own CTOs. Whole marketing IT teams often independent of the rest of the business. And, a direct connection to data that drives revenue. Sadly, though, all that cool CRM and CXM and Mobile and Social and Multivariate and Analytics and Cloud Whatnot doesn’t get the whole job done.

Because behind the scenes, in the boiler room of every marketing machine, lies a huge pile of Marcom fuel. Project plans, development updates, and many multi-sheet wonder-colored “Campaign-O-Matics” – all in the form of Excel spreadsheets. Forecasts, annual reports, and pitch decks in PowerPoint. Newsletters, press releases, brochures, case studies, and scripts in Word. You can’t starve this part of the engine that runs on content – just as you can’t effectively run a business without data. What worries me is that marketers tend to overplay outside-in data mining/analytics and underplay inside-out content risk management. This routinely imperils business reputation but can easily be managed by enhancing four basic content processes within the many pieces and parts that collectively equal the CMO Suite:

  1. Protect content at the moment of its creation
  2. Re-use (and re-purpose) content successfully
  3. Manage versions (and retain only the closest 20% to final)
  4. Collaborate efficiently to avoid bottlenecks and maintain auditable change detail

Sure, these are at the center of Litéra’s value proposition to enhance content strategy for marketing. But they aren’t always top-of-mind for marketers (or even their technologists). So, I propose that any marketer interested in understanding the value of these four enhancements – and their nominal costs in relation to CMO Suites – reach out to me at their earliest opportunity. It should be obvious that such a blatant call to action is a turn-off in today’s world of analytics-informed, nuanced, persona-based, targeted/personalized/channel-optimized persuasive content delivery. I suppose I should have waited to write this post until the demand for it had reached a peak. But the fact is that investments in marketing technology for advertising and analytics largely outpace those for basic content creation, control, and collaboration. And, it’s time for marketing leadership to realize that marketing content depends on back office essentials that rarely get attention and investment. Is your boiler room too inefficient to fuel your business ambitions?

About Toby Bell

Toby has over 25 years of leadership experience in technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. He's managed people, products, projects, and profits equally well. His work history ranges from marketing and communications to software design and development to global consulting to technology research and analysis to business leadership. He has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker for Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, and their clients. Toby Bell has spent over 30 years as a global technology executive with experience ranging across enterprise technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. His perspectives about idealizing the interplay between people and emerging content, analytics, and process technologies stem from a balanced career as an enterprise end-user, industry analyst, and vendor in this evolving marketplace. Toby has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker on behalf of Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, IBM, AIIM, and their respective clients.
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