Marketing has become one of the most technology-dependent functions in business. Today, it would be no surprise to learn that a company’s chief marketing officer spends more on technology than its chief information officer. It’s a development that has given rise to a critical new role – the chief marketing technologist.
What is a “chief marketing technologist”? Digital marketing company Syndacast defines the CMT as “a person who is a hybrid between a marketing, IT and strategy specialist”. It’s a title that’s growing in popularity among Fortune 500 companies around the world.
“People in this role need technical depth – many have backgrounds in IT management or software development – but they must also be passionate about marketing. A common profile is an executive with an undergraduate degree in computer science and a graduate degree in business. Many CMTs have experience in digital agencies or with building customer-facing web products. Most CMTs report primarily to marketing, either to the CMO or to another senior marketing executive, such as the VP of marketing operations or the VP of digital marketing. Many also have dotted-line reporting relationships with IT.” – Harvard Business Review
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), this new type of executive is at the centre of digital transformation and connects and interacts with four key stakeholders in the organisation:
The CMO and other senior marketing executives
- The CMT supports strategy by ensuring technical capabilities and advocating for approaches enabled by new technologies.
The CIO and IT
- The CMT facilitates and prioritises technology requests from marketing, translating both technical and marketing requirements, and making sure that marketing’s systems adhere to IT policies.
The marketing team
- The CMT ensures that the marketing staff has the right software and training.
Software and service providers
- The CMT assesses how well outside vendors’ technical capabilities meet marketing’s needs, helps integrate the systems, and monitors their performance.
DID YOU KNOW?
94% of SapientRazorfish survey respondents believe that marketing and IT skills can be combined in a single person, yet how they describe their personality and jobs reveals a culture gap. The consultancy recommends that the role straddle both marketing and technology in equal measure, not with a major in one and a small minor in the other. If you are a CMT, or aspire to be one, examine how you view yourself and whether you are naturally centred in one department. If you are a brand leader working with a CMT, provide them with coaching that will allow them to become aware of any unconscious biases they might have.
In a study of marketing technologists’ skills, career paths, attitudes and behaviours, global marketing and consulting company SapientRazorfish found that marketing technologists cluster into six distinct archetypes, and they are not equivalent or interchangeable. Of the six archetypes, three are focused on technology, three on marketing:
Marketing Mavens (26%): With marketing skills emphasised over technology, Mavens specialise in building marketing programs using expertise in marketing strategy, strategic positioning and promotion.
Data Divas (17%): Divas are skilled in marketing operations management, CRM, data science, analytics and modelling. They know how to acquire, integrate and make data perform.
Content Curators (16%): Storytellers. Message crafters. Marketing strategists. Content Management platform experts. This type exercises considerable knowledge of the content marketing and related technologies to direct communications-oriented marketing.
Infrastructure Architects (16%): Enterprise-level technology defines this archetype, but they are also business consultants and bring a high-level understanding of a company’s marketing initiatives.
Experience Engineers (15%): One foot in technology and another in experience. They are experts in cutting-edge technology: from eCommerce to front-end technology and mobility.
Media & Marketing Analysers (10%): Specialise in research, consumer insights and strategic planning. They think strategically about segmentation and connections planning.
Regardless of what they’re called, their key role is to set a technology vision for marketing.
Born of a digital world
It’s no surprise that marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions across all businesses. In describing the developments that gave rise to the role of the CMT, HBR explains that in a digital world, software is the chief means of engaging prospects and customers. With digital marketing budgets expanding annually at double-digit rates, digital marketing is now the most important technology-powered investment for most large organisations.
As a result, an increasingly large portion of marketing budgets is now allocated to technology itself. “There are now well over 1000 marketing software providers worldwide, with offerings ranging from major platforms for CRM, content management, and marketing automation to specialised solutions for social media management, content marketing, and customer-facing apps,” says HBR.
In this new world, the CMO and the CIO are required to work together closely, beyond mere collaboration. But executive-level cooperation isn’t enough, according to HBR. “A supporting organisational structure is also needed. A company can’t simply split marketing technology down the middle, King Solomon style, and declare that the CMO gets the marketing half and the CIO gets the technology half. Such a neat division might look good on paper, but it leaves deep knowledge gaps in practice.”
Essentially, marketing needs to understand how to fully leverage what IT can offer, and IT needs to understand how to accurately translate marketing requirements into technical capabilities. Where the rubber meets the road is where marketing becomes proficient with the range of software available to attract, acquire, and retain customers, and when it’s fully capable of managing the technical aspects of agency and service provider relationships.
Marketing technology in 2017 and beyond
According to IDC Research, marketing will use technology from 2017 to 2020 to generate more revenue for companies, mainly by enhancing customer experience.
1. More will be spent on content marketing than on product marketing. In the past, the product launch was the main content event, responsible for a major portion of the marketing budget. Today, the days of product content dominance are numbered. “Product content will remain important, but it will take its place behind the content marketing assets matched to decision-journey stages,” says IDC.
2. By 2020, 50% of companies will use cognitive computing to automate marketing and sales interactions with customers. “Companies will increasingly turn to smart systems that automatically assess and respond to buyers at the point of need.”
3. In 2017, 20% of large enterprises will consolidate their marketing technology infrastructure. “Marketing has been absorbing marketing technology a bite at a time for more than a decade. Many organisations now manage dozens (if not hundreds) of point solutions. Just as marketing environments are hitting the wall of this operational complexity, marketing tech vendors are building solid integrated platforms – tailorable through a partner eco-system.”
4. By 2018, predictive analytics will be a standard tool for marketers, but only a third will get optimal benefit. “Early adopters of predictive analytics for buyer behaviour report amazing results. The benefits come from the ability to discover hidden segments that have a high propensity to buy.”
5. By 2018, 50% of marketing leaders will make significant structural changes to their “intelligence” operations and organisations. “Intelligence includes market intelligence (MI), business intelligence (BI), competitive intelligence (CI), and social intelligence (SI). In the past, these four functions were spread around the enterprise. Now, IDC sees more companies consolidating into a larger, single, intelligence group – often combining with intelligence functions from other areas like sales. The elimination of silos in this important area is a positive sign.”
Looking ahead, the best CMTs, according to CIO magazine, will be those who set a technology vision for marketing in the digital age. “They champion greater experimentation and more agile management of that function’s capabilities, as well as act as transformation agents, working within the function and across the company to create competitive advantage and collaboration.”
1. Marketing technologists must continue to grow their skills on the job, especially when it comes to closing the large skills gaps in areas of significant opportunity (targeting, CRM and data) and high risk (information security, performance and resiliency).
2. The need for marketers who understand technology, data and algorithms is as pressing and urgent as the need for technologists who have a grasp of marketing, advertising and the art of growing customers.
3. For businesses that want to thrive, grooming leaders with relevant skills, and who have a profound understanding of the age of the customer, is the single biggest investment you can make in your future.