Solutions

The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist and the Challenges to an Organization


Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business. A recent study by the research and consulting firm Gartner predicted that by 2017, a company’s chief marketing officer would be spending more on technology than its chief information officer was. Just a few years ago, that claim would have seemed absurd, but today we are all seeing company’s marketing departments spending more than ever on technology.

A new type of executive is emerging at the center of the transformation: the chief marketing technologist. CMTs are part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part communicator in this new era of big-data driven marketing.

In today’s digital world, software is the primary means of engaging prospects and customers. A marketing team’s choice of software and how to configure and operate it, along with how creatively the team applies it, materially affects how the company perceives and influences its audience and how the audience regards the company.

This rise in digital budgets is not merely a migration of spending from traditional to digital media. A growing portion of marketing’s budget is now allocated to technology itself. The same Gartner study found that 67% of marketing departments plan to increase their spending on technology-related activities over the next two years. In addition, 61% are increasing capital expenditures on technology, and 65% are increasing budgets for service providers that have technology-related offerings.

The challenge of effectively managing all this technology is daunting. There are thousands of marketing software providers worldwide, with offerings ranging from major platforms for CRM, content management, and marketing automation to specialized solutions for social media management, content marketing, and customer-facing apps. There are even larger players such as Salesforce that have developed a robust ecosystem to offer a holistic approach to sales and marketing software. If you were at the latest Dreamforce meeting you know first-hand how large and impressive their ecosystem is becoming.

In this new environment, the CMO and the CIO must collaborate closely. But executive-level cooperation isn’t enough; a supporting organizational structure is also needed. CMTs must facilitate and prioritize technology requests from marketing, translating between technical and marketing requirements and making sure that marketing’s systems adhere to IT policies. This can be an arduous exercise for anyone and especially challenging to interface with IT and their legacy investments that potentially run counter to the needs of big-data driven marketing of today.

At Murphy & Co. we have worked with a number of Fortune 200 companies and have had the opportunity to observe our clients’ efforts to create new technology infrastructures to manage digital marketing while following the edicts set by corporate IT. Ranging from cobbling together point solutions to more aggressively embracing holistic approaches, companies are increasingly experimenting to find the balance that works best for them.

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