Digitalization

Rise of the marketing technologist

Thomas Bosshard
  • Thomas Bosshard

Categories

  • Digitalization

New profession proves that marketing and technology have become inseparably intertwined.

Marketing has become increasingly dependent on technology over the past few years. With the rapid emergence of new technologies such as customer-facing apps, analytics or CRM systems to name only a few, technology is now a critical success factor within marketing organizations. Managing all this technology can be a challenging, if not overwhelming task.

Until recently, however, marketing teams readily outsourced all technology-related issues to IT. Now more and more companies are seeking to embed an expert with combined business and technology expertise into their marketing teams. Preferably, this position is held by a tech-savvy marketing professional who is able to lead the day-to-day management of marketing technolo-gies.

But what has caused this growing need of a new profession? Are corporate IT teams not doing enough to align technologies with business goals? Establishing a tighter integration between the lines of business and their IT partners has proven to be difficult – so has translating business needs into IT solutions: Too much seems to be lost in translation. Another reason is budget: IT teams are often forced to control their costs and to focus their resources on infrastructure or security whereas marketing departments usually have substantially more generous budgets.

More and more companies are also creating the new executive position of a Chief Marketing Technologist or CMT, a hybrid role whose primary responsibility is to lead the integration and innovation of marketing technology. A survey of 229 high-revenue US companies on technology spending by the tech research company Gartner confirms this trend: 81% of the organizations questioned already have the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist, another 8 percent plan to introduce this role over the next two years. The report also concludes that by 2017, CMOs will be spending more on technology than CIOs.

This rise of a new professional shows some of the typical signs of an emerging occupation: Practitioners have started a new professional association that also meets at conferences. National publications such as Financial Times or Harvard Business Review write articles about the phenomenon. However related academic degree or training programs are not yet available. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, the ideal candidate has “technical depth”, i.e. a background in IT management or software development, but must also be “passionate about marketing”. A common profile is further “an executive with an undergraduate de-gree in computer science and a graduate degree in business”. However, this or unique combi-nation of skills and experience is apparently still difficult to find.

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