Why it's time to tech up: OpenText's CMO Kevin Cochrane

Marketers who bypass IT to source third-party technologies are missing the chance to better align platforms to their business needs, Kevin Cochrane tells CMO

Marketers who bypass their own IT department and outsource their technology needs to third-party suppliers are missing an opportunity to invest in more worthwhile brand activities, OpenText’s CMO claims.

Kevin Cochrane was appointed CMO of the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) software company in February and is responsible for implementing its global marketing strategy as it aims to capture a leading position in the burgeoning EIM technology space. He joined from Adobe Systems, where he spent the past three years in senior executive roles including product marketing.

According to Cochrane, CMOs are wasting unnecessary energy stitching together a plethora of disparate third-party solutions. Instead, they should rely on the IT function to align platforms and help drive productivity, insight and efficiency.

“There is misperception in the marketplace that as a marketer, you can go around IT and just engage a SaaS [software-as-a-service] vendor for marketing automation and then for a lead nurturing program, and everything magically works. It’s not true,” he claimed. “You still need to wire up your website to kick-off those Eloqua reports, and you still need to pay a specialist to determine parameters for your nurturing program.

“When they’re spending all this money on external platforms, marketers are really just outsourcing their IT function and buying from lots of different vendors who by the way, are charging a lot more than your internal cost structure. I’ve seen a lot of money spent by marketers externally where frankly, they could have had better optimised delivery from their IT department.”

Cochrane recommended IT source and manage these vendor and technology requirements, then provide business analysis that helps marketing define how to best align the mix of technologies needed for their organisation. “Your dollar can be spent on building brand and driving demand,” he said.

The challenge has been speaking the same language as IT. Cochrane said the key was being clear on requirements and what you are willing to accept as a “minimally viable deployment” for anything delivered by the IT function.

“I recommend other marketers become a bit more of a technologist. Understand how you need to execute your digital campaign, and use that information to partner with your IT department. IT departments are learning about digital marketing and how to partner with marketing and as with any relationship, you have to meet in the middle.”

Technology roots

Cochrane has been a technologist since stepping into the content management industry in 1995 with solutions provider Interwoven. He moved to the CMO’s role at Day Software, then joined Adobe Systems in 2010 after it acquired Day, holding several executive roles including vice-president of product marketing for Adobe’s digital marketing business unit.

He’s not surprisingly an advocate of utilising content to drive customer success and sees a marketer’s ability to find structure and context across unstructured data to be the holy grail. “I like to understand how our customers can leverage content in order to optimise their business, internal processes, communicate with employees, customers and partners,” he said.

“One of the things I particularly focused on during my career is the structure of the data, and how you can harness its power to understand the context of the content and the conversation. This is how we drive relevancy and meaning to the customer.”

Cochrane stunned many in the software industry by switching from Adobe to OpenText, but he told CMO he had long watched the vendor’s progression and growth in the content management space and was drawn to CEO Mark Barrenechea’s plans to chart a new vision as an EIM provider.

“The vision is to enable organisations to tap into all the structured and unstructured information they have around the enterprise,” Cochrane continued. “It’s about empowering employees based on innovation and delivering on the brand promises across all lines of business and customer touch points.

“When I look at traditional digital marketing, we have people focused on anonymous user data and acquiring eyeballs, profiling segments, targeting content to them and driving conversion, but that’s only aspect of what CMOs need to worry about. I also worry that each and every time a customer needs information or help from any of our employees, it’s the most delightful engagement experience that lives up to our brand promise.”

As part of its EIM transformation, OpenText is using its own technology to ensure all employees are well informed and understand the customer context, Cochrane said. Since coming on-board, Cochrane has also spent a significant amount of time mapping out business functions and ensuring upcoming product releases improve on Opentext’s customer engagement.

I recommend other marketers become a bit more of a technologist. Understand how you need to execute your digital campaign, and use that information to partner with your IT department.

- OpenText CMO Kevin Cochrane

His other priorities include getting the OpenText story out to a wider audience, and driving take-up of the EIM approach. “If you look at the underlying technology in the firm, we have the largest registered portfolio of information management technologies that can be leveraged by the line of business,” he claimed.

“Unifying those platforms into a singular suite with the ability to get up and running quickly and in the cloud, is a unique and viable message for us to take to marketers.”

Whether you favour the EIM model or not, it’s obvious marketers need a better grip on how technology can support their customer relationship. For Cochrane, true customer focus is not just about technical or marketing knowledge, but also leadership.

“The CEO needs to mandate that the head of sales, head of support and CMO all work together to accomplish this true customer experience,” he said. And CMOs, don’t forget your CIO. “CMOs right now should be improving their relationship with the CIO, because I don’t think either can be successful without the other,” Cochrane added.

More on the CIO/CMO relationship

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