What would the marketing technology stack look like if it was designed from the ground up by marketers? We posed that question to many of our clients. We found at the core of the ideal marketing tech stack was a centralized digital asset management (DAM) system that brought the entire company — not just the marketing department — into a single, collaborative space. In this way, the DAM also serves as the only source for brand creative and sales enablement tools.

Historically, DAMs have been a technology designed for IT simply as a function of general business operations. As more marketers undergo a digital transformation, the frustrations elicited by IT-heavy DAMs have grown as well: cumbersome user interfaces, limited search functionality, difficult permissions-setting, and counterintuitive taxonomies, to name just a few.

Marketers simply require a different kind of DAM to deliver on all of their responsibilities, from events to sales enablement to advertising campaigns.

For instance, GE has been a pioneer in this regard, migrating over 40,000 files over to Percolate’s marketing-centric DAM. With 24,000 GE employees accessing these files, they needed brand-specific tagging and user-based roles and permissions to ensure that everyone had access to what they needed — creative assets for campaigns or user manuals for the machinery they produce — to do their job.

There’s power in such a marketing-centric tool. We’ll explore that idea with research analyst Forrester in our upcoming Webinar. Make sure to join us as we further dive into this topic.

That said, wielding that power means considering just how marketing’s shift to the forefront of the enterprise is affecting how enterprise DAMs must work in the future.

Marketing at the Center

In recent years, we’ve seen marketing inch its way into the center of the organization. What was firmly in IT’s grasp is transitioning over to marketing. This is not to say IT is disappearing or no longer serves a vital role in an organization — it most certainly does — but rather, marketing is taking over as the central, dominant force in an organization. And this is happening, because of three interconnected movements:

  1. The customer experience is becoming more digital across both online and physical customer touch-points, thus
  2. requiring marketing to become one of the few functions that interfaces across multiple other departments, meaning  
  3. marketing is a more critical driver of revenue for the entire organization.


The importance of the CMO, and marketing more broadly, is exemplified by the number of CMOs that have been promoted to CEO in recent years. What began with Mercedes-Benz’ Stephen Cannon in 2012, followed by Audi’s Scott Keogh a few months later, has resulted in an unparallelled trend: Gilt Groupe recruited the CMO of Citigroup, Michelle Peuso, as their new CEO in 2013, then RadioShack hired former marketing executive Joseph Magnacca from Walgreen’s, followed by Ben van Beurden at Royal Dutch Shell, former director of marketing operations. Just earlier this year, the latest in this line of promotions took place, with former Chief Branding Officer Steve Easterbrook taking over as McDonald’s new CEO.

We’ve also seen another trend emerge that signals a shift in priorities: digital and eCommerce executives are moving into CMO roles while CMOs at traditional companies are leaving to go to tech start-ups. This clear foray into the digital space highlights that CMOs are looking to become more digital savvy or are coming from digital backgrounds entirely.

Today, being a visionary marketing leader means bringing marketing activity into the center of the organization and leading with digital transformation. Nonetheless, CMOs aren’t doing it alone. They must collaborate across functions, both inside and outside the company. With that said, there’s one function in particular marketing must heavily collaborate with: IT.

The scientists of marketing

As Meerman Scott said, the future of marketing is going to be much less art and much more science.

This was hinted at as early as 2012, when research firm Gartner wrote that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs. Such a sweeping prediction was scoffed at in 2012, but is beginning to take shape today.

Firstly, digital marketing budgets are expanding annually at double-digit rates, with CEOs reporting that digital marketing is the most important technology-powered investment they can make.

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Not only that, a higher and higher percentage of marketing budgets are now allocated to technology purchases themselves. In the same 2012 Gartner study mentioned above, the firm reported that 67% of marketing departments planned to increase spend on technology over the next two years.

This all means that CMOs and CIOs will have to work together. Rather than placing the entire procurement burden on marketing, Marketing must leverage IT in making tech buying decisions. At the same time, IT can no longer make software decisions on their own: they must keep marketing in mind. IT must determine what technology will serve marketing and work in tandem with CMOs to meet their needs. Otherwise, the whole company can suffer.

A dam designed for marketers

With all of this information, let’s return to our original question: what would a DAM designed with marketers in mind look like?

A DAM system, one of the greatest tools an organization can purchase and implement, cannot exist as a stand-alone technology the way it has in the past. In order for DAMs to provide the greatest value possible to marketers, they must integrate into existing marketing workflows.

But what does this really mean? It begins with supporting any file type, moves on to the easy search and discovery of these assets, and includes the ability to store, create, and publish content using those assets. Ultimately, it also comes down to sales enablement: the capacity to share brand assets across agencies, sales, communications, and events. Even R&D, HR, and finance require a single interface with marketing so that marketing can better serve — and be served by — these functions.

Here we’ve seen the very real shift of marketing into the center of the organization. This shift has come alongside an exponential increase in CMO tech spend, a testament to the collaborative nature of marketing and IT. The future of the organization lies in an IT department that is able to think more like marketing, from internal computer infrastructure to software purchases. It is only when software begins to integrate into marketing workflows that true value can be unlocked for the brand as a whole.

To learn more about how we’re rethinking digital asset management at Percolate, click here.