Technology has dramatically changed marketers’ day-to-day jobs, as well as how marketers are viewed within the overall corporate structure. Tools including marketing automation and email automation software, productivity tools that help manage social media campaigns, analytic tech and software that allows marketers to more easily test and optimize their digital marketing efforts have aided in this shift.
One piece of evidence for this change is a newly-minted C-suite designation, the Chief Marketing Technology Officer, or CMTO.
The CMTO job title recognizes that marketing today is a very data-driven affair, and not only are marketers increasingly making technology buying decisions, their role is even taking over some of the functions more traditionally associated with CIOs and CTOs. It also addresses the fact that marketing is a more data-driven and technology-dependent discipline. This means marketers actually have key performance indicators and metrics on campaigns that show the rest of the leadership the actual return on investment for the marketing budget, and having these tangible results allow marketers to demonstrate actual worth in terms of contributing to the bottom line.
Free-wheeling marketers versus staid technologists
Adding a technology-specific job role to marketing also acknowledges typically marketers and technologists have different approaches to their jobs. A recent CIO.com article covered the rise of the CMTO, describing technologists as conservative decision-makers with methodical approaches to making tech purchases where marketers are typically more risk-taking and willing to quickly adopt new technology to stay ahead of the curve.
The CMTO role is a way companies are finding a middle ground where marketers can still keep up with latest technology offerings to make their lives easier, while still placing a certain amount of rigor in the technology purchasing process. In fact, even though not all companies have an employee with the exact title of CMTO, Gartner reported 80% of organization do have someone filling an equivalent role to CMTO.
In the CIO.com article, Sheldon Monteiro, CTO at marketing and technology consultancy, SapientNitro, explained the challenges inherent in the CMTO role, “You have to hold both interests together. There's tremendous value in being able to really think about building robust, secure, scalable systems ... At the same time, you have to have a desire to move fast.”
Monteiro also emphasized the discipline is very new, and was blogging about the topic last fall sharing some of the questions company leaders should be asking when looking to fill the CMTO position, including:
- Do I need one?
- How do I define the role?
- Who should she report to?
- What is the profile of candidate needed?
- What skills need to be developed? Can one person bridge the marketing/technology divide?
Given the important role technology plays in the current marketing world, these are questions businesses of all sizes need to be asking.
Monteiro even started a CMTO University program at SapientNitro teaching students how to evaluate marketing tech and find that balance point between quick-hit decision making in keeping up with the latest trends and understanding tech purchases come with consequences. Students are taught to keep in mind that a certain level of due diligence is necessary to ensure the new technology will integrate with a company’s existing tech.
Harvard Business Review also covered the topic last year, citing Gartner research that anticipates CMOs will be spending more on technology than CIOs by 2017, and listed some qualities for marketing technologists as “part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher.” The article also pointed out the CMTOs should set technology visions within companies, champion experimentation and act as corporate change-agents. The article pointed out that digital marketing budgets are growing at double digit rates year-over-year and stated that digital marketing is the key tech-powered investment for businesses, citing Gartner research that found 67% of marketing departments plan on increasing tech spending through 2016.
Even though marketers’ tendency for taking chances can be a positive when creating innovative campaigns and keeping up with the rapid amount of change in marketing channels, technology purchases do have to integrate with the rest of the corporate tech.