Head-to-head: Do you need your own chief technologist?

We ask three marketing chiefs their view on whether CMOs need their own chief marketing technologist

Technology is infiltrating all aspects of marketing, regardless of whether you see it as a good or bad thing, and there’s an ever-growing list of vendors lining up to offer you a solution to big data, Web analytics, predictive analysis, social media monitoring and more. The questions is, how does the average CMO keep on top of it all?

In a presentation at the Search Content Summit in 2010, Scott Brinker claimed the rise of technology platforms will see the rise of a chief marketing technologist; someone who sits alongside creative and operations within your marketing team and ensures you best utilise technology in every facet of marketing business.

“Marketing must become one with technology,” Brinker stated in his presentation. “The good news is you’re already accountable. Leads, market share – you’re already responsible for outcome and those outcomes are dependent on your marketing technology capabilities. The CEO already thinks that digital marketing means marketing is fully accountable for its performance and ROI.

“To do this, marketing need its own technology leadership firepower and that is the impetus for a new role in the marketing department – the marketing CTO.”

The marketing technologist, Brinker continued, is not another layer of management but a new pillar within the structure and function of marketing. “This role reports directly to the CMO, not the CIO, although he or she will certainly coordinate with IT and increasingly, with product development,” he explained. “This person is a technologist and will have deep engineering and technical experience. But they are also marketing savvy and passionate about marketing’s mission.”

Brinker isn’t the only one envisaging the marketing CTO as a permanent fixture in the marketing department. Forrester Research analyst Suresh Vittal is also in favour of selling the idea of a marketing technology office.

So do CMOs agree? Do you in fact need your own technologist, or is technology know-how intrinsic in the make-up of a modern CMO? Does it in fact come down to fostering a better relationship with your IT department? We asked three marketing leaders for their view.

For vice-president of strategic accounts at Texas-based Bulldog Solutions, Heather Hoetger, the modern CMO will have to acquire an adequate technology skill set themselves and within their team.

“This typically manifests itself inside an operations role – a leader with systems and process expertise,” she said. “An effective CMO will be on top of the marketing technology landscape and be able to forge an alliance with IT to drive change and results.”

Given the rapidly increasing role technology plays in helping companies optimise their operations, engage with and delight customers and build lifetime customer value, Pegasystem Systems CMO Grant Johnson claimed technology adroitness is a mandate no marketer can afford to ignore.

“There’s a need to do more than merely understand the broad range of technologies that can help the company compete more effectively such as predictive analytics, social media monitoring and marketing automation,” he told CMO World. “Marketers now need to know how to craft and guide a technology adoption roadmap.

“Whether this roadmap requires a dedicated chief marketing technologist or contributions from a sufficient number of tech-savvy team members at any given company depends on several variables. This decision should be driven by overall company goals and objectives and whether it fits into marketing’s long-term strategic plan.

“Regardless of which route is taken, it’s incumbent on CMOs to partner closely with the CIO to articulate a cogent roadmap to acquire and integrate marketing technologies, and improve marketing systems and processes to help the company meet its strategic objectives. It’s up to us as CMOs how we can best achieve this goal.”

Owner and president of US advertising agency STIR, Brian Bennett, was all in favour of leveraging a dedicated staff member or partner to address technology challenges and opportunities.

“There is way too much on the plate of the CMO to try to surf technology themselves,” he claimed. However marketing technology and marketing strategy must be intricately linked.

“This function cannot be completely delegated. It is absolutely critical that data, traffic and impressions flow in the most efficient and effective manner.”

So what do you think? Is it time to hire your own marketing CTO? Join in the debate and email the editor.

Follow CMO World on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

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