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What Is a Chief Marketing Technologist?

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We can no longer afford separate silos between marketing and IT. The rapid collapse of these silos means that one person must be able to converse seamlessly between both groups.

Haven’t met anyone with the title of “chief marketing technologist” yet? You will. It’s the ultimate culmination between the chief marketing officer (CMO) role and the chief information officer (CIO) role, and it’s growing in popularity.

The line between the CMO and the CIO has been blurring for years. The first time I came across this was at a 2013 Ad Age conference featuring Bob Lord (Global CEO) and Ray Velez (Global CTO), of Razorfish, who had just published their book,Converge: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it if you are interested in this topic. Their point is that at this time in our digital marketing history, marketing and technology musttranscend the very silos they have been neatly shoved into.

Naturally, the person best suited to collapse the marketing and technology functions within your company is someone who has been trained to handle both. Today, this is somewhat of a rare skill set, but it won’t be for long.

Gartner predicted this three years ago!

In February 2012, Forbes ran an article that read, “Five Years From Now, CMOs Will Spend More on IT Than CIOs Do.” Their main points to support this prediction were as follows:

  1. As we all know, marketing is becoming increasingly technology-based;
  2. Harnessing and mastering Big Data is now key to achieving competitive advantage; 
  3. Many marketing budgets already are larger and faster growing than IT budgets.

More recently, CIO published this article: “CIO-to-CMO Transition of Power Is Becoming a Reality”. CIO pointed out that the transition has happened faster than the five-year time horizon Gartner had predicted in 2012. The article argued that since most of today’s marketing is driven by data, CIOs are a natural fit to become the next generation of CMOs.

Who is playing the role of Chief Marketing Technologist today?

For this article, I interviewed Gary Shatswell at Sizzling Platter, LLC. His LinkedIn profile pegs his role as, chief information officer and VP of marketing. As the acting head of both marketing and IT, Gary Shatswell is a bonafide chief marketing technologist in role, even if he hasn’t officially received this exact title.

When learning more about Gary’s background, I discovered that, like many chief marketing technologists, Gary started in IT and worked his way up to the CIO role. As it became clear that today’s head of marketing is analyzing big data, building complex technology systems and architecture to manage customers and their loyalty, as well as marketing automation systems, all of this felt very familiar to Gary.

“I believe any CIO will initially feel a bit anxious about owning the marketing function in addition to their more traditional CIO role,” said Gary Shatswell, “but as CIOs discover that all of the most important information assets are currently being managed by the marketing department, migration from the role of CIO to chief marketing technologist feels like a natural evolution of the CIO’s role.”

What is so unique about the role of the chief marketing technologist?

The role itself is an acknowledgement of just how important the marketing group is to driving revenue within the organization and, when properly resourced, how today’s marketing information systems are driving the current and future growth of the business. If CIOs are not actively collaborating with their marketing counterparts, then there is a growing disconnect between the role of the CIO and the traditional role of the CMO. Only by bringing these two roles together can the CEO have a complete picture of what insights must be acted upon quickly in order to establish or maintain the top position.

In short, the power comes from the intersection between marketing and IT. Marketing without technology is quickly being left behind by more sophisticated approaches based on real-time big data, which, when properly analyzed, leads to insights, actions, and a sizable impact on the company’s bottom line. Conversely, an IT organization that is not connected to the marketing function is essentially blind to a large majority of the information assets being cultivated and managed by marketing information systems.

A hybrid approach is needed to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing and technology.

Today, we can no longer afford separate silos between marketing and IT. The rapid collapse of these silos means that one person must be able to converse seamlessly between both groups. While many CMOs are getting their arms around the technology side of their business, the natural evolution of this role is for the CIO to improve its marketing skills in order to grow into the chief marketing technologist role. The faster we embrace these trends, the bigger the impact we will have on our bottom line. That’s a great business insight steeped in data. This is our future, and it’s the reason chief marketing technologists will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

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