The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist

parachute_analogyMarketing technology is fast becoming the eyes, ears, and hands of the organization. We use CRM databases to aggregate and analyze customer histories, email marketing platforms and QR codes to gauge and monitor engagement, and social listening platforms to measure brand sentiment, to name a few examples. But where does the role of IT end and marketing begin when it comes to implementing, structuring, and managing new marketing technologies? Why is this important?

Marketing Should Lead its Own Technology

According to Scott Brinker of the Chief Marketing Technologist, the marketing department (not IT) should be leading its own technology. From a post entitled “Marketers, You are the Software You Use,” he writes:

Marketing software selection—which impacts the capabilities, workflows, insights, and automations available to marketing—is not just “standard IT business” anymore.  Analogously, it is a new kind of vocabulary for shaping strategy, culture, and brand … software is not merely bits and bytes, logic statements and data fields. Software is the digital incarnation of ideas that its developers had for: 1) how to define a problem 2) how to solve that problem.

Traditionally, companies have structured their IT and marketing departments whereby marketing makes requests to IT and IT implements and manages overall technology strategy. The drawbacks of this model are that overall cycle speed is usually slowed with overhead. Because each department has a different set of priorities, marketing is unlikely to develop much technical savvy in this structure. Marketing loses the ability to become responsive, agile, and real-time: coincidentally, three components required for a modern day marketing department to function effectively.

Despite the fact that IT and marketing tend to be diametrically opposed, Brinker has researched a variety of structures for how IT and marketing can best interact with each other. In his post “14 Marketing Technology Organizational Models,” he discusses 14 working models for how the two departments can best operate to achieve optimization. His suggestion is that most companies should develop marketing technology competency internally. Hence, the need for staffing marketing departments with “marketing technologists” who are both marketing savvy and technologically competent. A complete overview of this idea is available through this interview with Brinker entitled “Why You Need a Marketing Technologist.”

Marketing Technology: The Lens Through Which We View the World

To underscore the growing importance of why marketing needs to be able to control its own technology, consider this example as told by the VP of Client Development for the Ohio-based agency Clayman Marketing Communications, who recently discussed her frustration with trying to reconcile various data interpretations. From her post “The Counter-Intuitive World of Marketing,” she writes:

… Naturally our client wanted to know how the program (campaign) had performed. We asked the publisher to give us lead information and the news was off the charts good, so of course we let our client know. One of our contacts at the client pulled inbound reporting from their own tracking system, and the numbers were significantly lower than what the publisher had reported. We asked the publisher to add Google Analytics to their site so we could see how many outbound links were being tracked to our client’s website, and that was still a different spectrum of numbers. As you might imagine, this was extremely frustrating to our client. We did a lot of research and learned that there really are no rules necessitating that tracking systems should all report the same numbers.

In short, because the client, the agency, and the publisher were all looking at a slightly different set of analytics through their respective marketing technology lenses, they were all seeing something different. Had the initial issue been sketched out in such a way that technology could have been used to clearly frame and then “solve” the problem as they saw it, much of this confusion could have been avoided. Marketing could have adapted its technology to view the issue through the lens of what the client felt was important to know as they defined it, vs. looking at the dashboard they already had in place to arrive at such a conclusion.

Now its your turn: what marketing technologies are you using to inform your day-to-day marketing-based decisions? Who controls marketing technology at your company? Do the marketing technologies you’re using provide answers to the type of questions you have about your business and its customers? Who is responsible for sourcing and researching new technologies at your company?

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