Top Areas for 2015 Technology Budgets

It's time to start planning next year's technology investments and budgets. Successful digital marketing leaders will fiscally plan for support of ongoing business operations, as well as investment into technology that will allow them to stay competitive and innovate. Here are some of the top items for IT and digital marketing budgets for 2015 and beyond.

WCM-Web content management (WCM) may already be one of the top areas of your IT and marketing spending, but it may also be time to re-evaluate your ongoing WCM operations and streamline them. If you don't currently use a WCM system or are struggling with your homegrown CMS, it's definitely time to plan for the WCM line item in your 2015 budget. As traditional businesses shift to be digital, or at least digital-enabled, employing a WCM system will allow you to stay at the top of your game. It is critical that the WCM you use is scalable. WCM is also often the heart of myriad integrations with other systems in your technology stack. Plan accordingly here for continued support, maintenance, customizations, enhancements, and training.

DAM-Digital asset management (DAM), similar to WCM, plays a crucial role in the enterprise. While WCM can be a good vehicle to deliver your webpages and content, very few WCM systems are equipped to efficiently handle images, videos, brochures, creative files, photographs, and other digital assets. It is not only the increasing popularity of video that DAM can help with, it is also about streamlining creative workflows and automation, delivering personalized customer experiences, integrating with your product information management systems, and being a "good citizen" of your customer experience management stack. As with WCM, make sure to budget for implementation, customization, and training in addition to software licenses that may include add-on modules and connectors at extra cost.

Cloud-More and more organizations are turning to the notion of a hybrid cloud environment. In that case, you can have the best of all worlds: some on-premise, some private cloud, and some public cloud. From a budgeting perspective, cloud can be expensive, especially if you initially need to move large sets of data. Make sure you understand your vendor's pricing and service-level agreements (SLAs) well.

Mobile-You know the drill: the right content, at the right time, on the right device. Mobility is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can reach your customers wherever they are. On the other hand, it puts more responsibility on you to be equally elegant and persuasive on mobile as you are on the web or offline. Consider mobile apps, hybrid mobile development, responsive design, and content strategy that accounts for all channels and variety of devices. The majority of consumers are not satisfied with their mobile experiences, but there's a chance to capture the always-mobile audiences if you do it right.

Digital marketing/marketing automation-Software that allows you to communicate better with customers and automate some of your marketing tasks will save you time and money. If implemented and used correctly, marketing can potentially streamline your operational efficiency, increase control over your content and overall marketing strategy, streamline your sales and marketing operations, and deliver personalized content to customers. In this marketplace of software vendors that are not quite as mature as WCM, for example, you will have to exhibit extra preparedness and caution.

Analytics-Analytics can take multiple forms: Big Data analysis, web analytics, social media sentiment analysis, predictive analytics, and content analytics. The major benefit in employing analytics software is that you can measure anything and everything and get business-critical insights from that data. Make sure, though, that you have staffers (e.g., a data scientist or analytics guru) to analyze, interpret, and dissect not only the data itself, but any associated reporting that comes out of the analytics systems.

People-And speaking more on the subject of staffers, one of your ongoing priorities should be hiring the best talent and staffing your technology projects accordingly. Even the best software is fairly useless without humans making sense out of it and using it effectively.