Forward thinking business strategists say they have seen the future – and it looks like digital marketing on steroids.
This comes as no surprise, even to those without a crystal ball. Those who track current trends anticipate by 2020, if not earlier, much of traditional marketing will have gone the way of the floppy disc. It will be replaced by increasingly customized online conversations between businesses and their markets.
According to the research specialist Gartner, CMOs will soon spend more on IT than CIOs. It’s inevitable given that a company’s target markets typically live online.
The latest Ipsos survey shows more than 98% of affluent North Americans use the internet and, on average, spend more than 30 hours weekly online. Affluent millenials, aged 18 to 29, spend more than 40 hours a week online, essentially the equivalent of a full-time job. And those hours don’t include emailing.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, futurist Gerd Leonhard predicts that soon, “companies will be focused on predicting how people feel about their brand and then adjusting in real time, by changing features and starting new conversations.”
The possibilities in the new era of marketing are exciting, but who will implement them?
When I speak with IT leaders across the GTA they agree that demand for people with know-how in marketing technology will intensify. The question is which type of specialist will double up on their skills to fill the need: The technologist or the marketer?
Today, marketers speak of the overwhelming challenges of having to deal with a myriad of application and platform issues in order to implement their campaigns.
And there’s no reason to believe things will get easier. We know that practices such as behavioural targeting, marketing automation, conversion optimization, and social media monitoring will increase in complexity as they evolve in sophistication. So while marketers have vision and strategic alignment on their side, they may lack technical depth.
I see marketing leaders hiring technologists or third party IT companies to develop solutions—and bypassing IT in doing so. The issue is when it comes to vetting candidates and companies, the standards, documentation, and technologies that technology departments have spent years developing and rigorously perfecting are not being utilized.
We at Bagg Technology Resources are often asked by companies to provide resources to “insource” the websites developed or clean up the current undocumented web applications being used.
Still, while IT experts have technical know-how, they also have different imperatives than the marketer. Technology departments need to consider stability, security, standardization and functional specs. Marketing’s top priorities are market impact and differentiation.
Scott Brinker of Chiefmartec.com confirms for the US what I have found in my discussions with IT leaders here: Marketing and IT appreciate each other’s priorities, but each department is bound to its own respective needs, first and foremost.
It’s for this very reason that we are seeing the rise of a new hybrid in the executive suite. Welcome the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO), also known as Chief Marketing Technologist. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a CMTO at every conference table.
There are many ways to write a job description for a CMTO. But essentially, the role calls for someone who has a passion and real understanding of marketing and brand building, as well as a strong background in software and technology management. The CMTO is a first essential step to fuse two areas of expertise.
However, I am an advocate of also working from the ground up and embedding technologists into the marketing team — in the same seamless way that marketing departments now include graphic designers and art directors.
The writing is on the wall: it won’t be long before your IT and marketing departments need to speak each other’s language fluently to be competitive.
And there’s no better time to prepare for the future than now. To do so, consider these four key questions:
- Is it advantageous for me to enhance my technology skills with marketing courses?
- As a technology leader, how can I spend more time with the marketing department?
- What are the Challenging Questions I can ask at meetings, with tact, to help others recognize the need to engage IT and vice versa?
- What is interesting to me about the new digital age of marketing and should I be looking to become my company’s next Chief Marketing Technology Officer?
D: 416-847-4962 Joanne.Boucher@bagg.com
Joanne is the General Manager for Bagg Technology Resources bringing over 20 years of industry experience in Project and Solutions Resourcing in Information Technology, Digital Interactive, Engineering, Management, Contract/Full Time Resourcing.