Few jobs have changed more in the past few years than that of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Just as the role of Chief Information Office (CIO) has gotten flipped upside down with digital transformation, the CMO’s job functions have been equally hard hit. In the simplest terms: Marketing isn’t what it used to be. Technology has become so entrenched in marketing strategy that companies need to consider adding a new function—Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT)—to their C-suite arsenal if they want to stay ahead of industry trends.

How do you know if you really need a CMT? I’d reckon in the next few years, it will be a liability to go without one. Research shows that by 2020, half of all companies will be digitally automating the marketing and sales interactions they have with customers. Just as digital transformation has wreaked havoc on silos in legacy enterprises, it’s forcing companies to look at their marketing strategies in a more holistic way—one where technology is not just a partner in marketing, but an integral part of marketing itself. Indeed, it’s no longer feasible for CMOs and CIOs just to chat and commiserate over digital marketing needs. The issue needs to be addressed from a central leader—one equally versed in both sides of the digital coin.

My colleague Shelly Kramer did a great job illustrating the reasons CMOs and CIOs need to work together more closely in her article Strange Bedfellows: Why Your CIO and CMO Need to Deepen Their Relationship. The following are just a few ways marketing and technology overlap in the digital marketplace, and why taking a proactive step in hiring a CMT might not be a bad idea.

Big Data

With the advent of the IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, big data runs the show when it comes to marketing in the digital transformation. And nowhere is it more evident than the need for marketing teams to keep a constant hand in the technology jar than in the case of big data. Companies need to use technologies like AI to harness all the data being generated daily—all of which can improve customer experience (CX) and business goals. It only makes sense that a leader poised in both analytics and marketing would take the lead in managing that charge.

Automation

Along with AI and big data comes automation. Today’s AI-assisted marketing efforts have the ability to automatically edit marketing campaigns mid-stream based on real-time data gathered on campaign results. That means today’s marketing leaders need to understand all facets of AI and automation. They must know how to create the best, most creative campaigns, equally creative secondary campaigns—and how to incorporate them into an automated system.

Communication

There’s been a lot of talk recently about who spends more on technology—the CMO or CIO. I’d suggest it’s time to look past that issue altogether. It’s no longer enough for the CIO to advocate for certain software while the CMO forges their own tech budget and strategy. A CMT will be better equipped to sell the value of digital marketing campaigns and technologies to the CFO because they understand the expenses and resources needed—along with the anticipated ROI.

Is it time for your company to hire a CMT? Yes. Do you need to hire one in-house? Not necessarily. My guess is that the new CMT will be in high depend, simply because of the incredibly unique skill-set they must bring to the table—a mix of creativity, strategy, and technical acumen. Realizing this, I’m guessing we’ll soon see the development of the CMT as-a-Service (CMTaaS) model, at least until modern education catches up with industry needs. And, just as we’ve seen with other aaS models, that might not be a bad thing. It will allow even the smallest companies to capitalize on the immense number of automated, data-driven marketing technologies out there today, without forcing them to fit another C-suite executive into their budgets. And in terms of scalability, it will allow all of us to take advantage of those new technologies before the digital transformation changes the C-suite once again.

Additional Resources on This Topic
Strange Bedfellows: Why Your CIO and CMO Need to Deepen Their Relationship
The Role of the CMO in Digital Transformation
The Modern CMO: Adaptable, Innovative, Agile

Photo Credit: sandovalsinnel Flickr via Compfight cc

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