This week in Boston the first MarTech conference was held to encourage and support the increasingly important but still rare professionals — those who are equally adept at marketing and technology. Sometimes labeled chief marketing technology officers (CMTO), and affectionately referred to as unicorns because they are so difficult to find, these are the individuals who help equip organizations with the tools of modern marketing needed to engage today’s always-on customers. They are the bridge builders between CMOs and CIOs and the Sherpas for brand marketers who need help navigating the digital world. They are becoming invaluable assets to any marketing team.
MarTech conference chair and author at chiefmartec.com Scott Brinker (@chiefmartec) showed why keeping up with the marketing technology landscape is so difficult and why the role of CMTO is so critical. He plots almost 1,000 companies into key functional categories. Here’s how he portrays the universe of options at one point in time:
Having trouble keeping up? Here is my advice for marketing leaders on how to deal with the discipline of marketing technology, which I picked up from the speakers at MarTech.
1. Accept that you are consciously incompetent. Mayur Gupta (@inspiremartech), head of global marketing technology for Kimberly-Clark, kicked off the conference with this advice. Key to his effectiveness at his company is “understanding the implications of what our CMO Clive Sirkin continually says: that it’s not about digital marketing but marketing in a digital world.” It is a fast changing world indeed and virtually impossible to know it all. So hiring resources, either internal or external advisors, who are dedicated to understanding the technologies needed to execute your marketing strategies and build better customer experiences is a prudent investment to make.
2. Don’t race against the machine, race with it. Erik Brynjolfsson (@ErikBryn), director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, is obsessed with understanding what machines can do better than humans (and vice versa). After studying examples from robotics to chess-champion computers and IBM’s Jeopardy-winning Watson, his conclusion is that the most effective performances come when humans work with technology. So don’t fight the new wave of digital tools, embrace them and learn how they make your organization more effective.
3. Collaborate and integrate. Laura McLellan (@LauraMcLellan), VP of marketing strategies at Gartner and the person behind the now infamous claim that CMOs will soon have bigger IT budgets than CIOs, called the rift between the two executives “garbage.” Why? Because 91% of marketing leaders believe that in two years they will be competing primarily on the basis of the customer experience. Astute marketing leaders know they can’t integrate the systems needed to deliver great experiences across all touch points without the collaboration of the CIOs’ teams. So get over your personality differences and work together to make your organization more responsive to your demanding customers.
4. Become customer-obsessed. Sheryl Pattek (@SherylPattek), VP and principal analyst in Forrester’s CMO practice, urged marketers to be disruptors because customer expectations have changed and marketers must catch up. “A customer-obsessed enterprise focuses its strategy, its energy and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.” According to the Q3 2013 Forrester/Heidrick & Struggles Evolved CMO Global Online Survey, only 18% of companies have a synchronized view of their customers across their organizations. So break down the silos and build a single unifying view that enables you to put end-customers at the center of your programs and engage with them seamlessly across all touch points.
5. Start building your own marketing cloud. Travis Wright (@teedubya) from Media Think Labs outlined the new Holy Grail of marketing (which will be the subject of my next book). “We have to move beyond integrated marketing and channel optimization to create omni-channel personalized experiences in real time.” To do that you must have ownership of the customer data and integrate the various applications needed for delivering 1:1 experiences across all touch points. Marketing cloud vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Adobe and Salesforce are racing to get there but much work still needs to be done. So start architecting your marketing technology infrastructure and begin using the tools that can enhance your current customer experiences today.
6. Raise your own unicorns. Paul Roetzer (@PaulRoetzer), author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint, cited a scary statistic: “Only one of the top 10 university marketing programs requires a digital marketing class.” While I was proud to learn that one program was at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business, my alma mater, I was dismayed that most of academia continues to lag the needs of real-world marketers. To address this problem, SapientNitro created an internal Chief Marketing Technology Academy. The executive director Sheldon Monteiro (@Sheldon_tm) acknowledged the program not only helps participants learn marketing fundamentals and technology skills, but also helps with communications and influence acumen so they can have a greater impact in their roles. Since the competition is intense for hiring the professionals who possess good foundations for becoming CMTOs, executive recruiting expert Erica Seidel (@erica-seidel) suggests you apply your customer acquisition methods to talent acquisition. Posting a job on LinkedIn (the Google AdWords of HR) results in only 3% of total hiring according CareerXRoads, so she suggests trying inbound marketing and social sharing techniques that start with compelling infographics of the positions you are trying to fill. Rishi Dave, CMO at D&B, believes having an inviting culture is also important. “What makes our marketing transformation exciting to recruits is that the executive team, including the CEO, supports and understands modern marketing. Here, they don’t have to swim against the tide. Here, marketing technologists will focus on driving big change immediately instead of trying to sell it to people who will never get it.”
Do you have other suggestions for embracing the role of marketing technologist? Add your comments below. Want to discuss the topic in more detail, reach out to me through the Contact Contributor feature on this page or @jellett.