A few short years ago, Gartner predicted that by 2017, chief marketing officers would be spending more on technology than chief information officers. With the rise of big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), this prediction is proving to hold truer each day. To acknowledge the transformation occurring in marketing, and the need for a bridge between marketing and IT, global organisations are increasingly adding a new C-Level position to their team: the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT).

Are these savvy companies on to something? Here’s what you need to know about the rise of the CMT, and what it can mean for your business today and for the future.

What is a Chief Marketing Technologist?

The CMT stands at the intersection of marketing and IT and speaks the language of both. They apply their expertise to integrate technology, data, and action toward audience engagement to impact the company’s bottom line. Marketing and IT departments have traditionally been siloed within departments that had only a basic knowledge of each other but didn’t fully understand how one should inform the other.

The CMT combines a hybrid skill set with a tech-oriented vision for marketing. They create a cross-functional collaboration among IT and marketing executives and departments. The strategic partnerships they create allows companies to create a more cohesive internal and external approach to their brand and customer engagement. Unlike the more traditional roles of CIO and CMO, CMTs determine what technology to use for engaging with audiences, and how it can be integrated into broader marketing plans. They utilise data to determine how to configure software to meet their audience’s needs. CMTs have an uncanny ability to incorporate strategy and technical knowledge with creativity and communication. By doing so, they establish a new digital business model and incorporate business goals with the technology to achieve them.

The rise of technology in marketing

In an ever-evolving business world, companies must change to keep up with their customers and stay ahead of their competitors. And that means revisiting, revising and converging roles to better suit the needs of the company and the customer. With more digital touchpoints than ever, customers are looking for brands that seamlessly integrate technology into their audience interactions. The obvious shift in the digital landscape reveals that marketing technology is more than a trend, and clarifies the need for a leader who can unify departments.

  • Big data integration

Today’s marketing is driven by data. Big data enables brands to map and enhance the customer journey to connect with them effectively. Analysing incoming data leads to actionable insights. When integrated with your marketing efforts, big data can have a major impact on your bottom line.

  • Customer engagement software

With thousands of marketing providers creating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Content Management Systems, Content Marketing, and Customer apps, customer touchpoints abound. Software that can manage audiences and marketing efforts efficiently is crucial, as are professionals who can translate marketing needs into implementable technology.

  • Digital marketing and e-commerce

67 per cent of Millennials and 56 per cent of Gen Xers prefer online commerce. So it’s no wonder that e-commerce has been growing at a rate of 23 per cent year-on-year—and isn’t slowing down. And brands are keeping up with these trends. By 2021, it’s projected that they’ll allocate 75 per cent of marketing budgets to digital marketing efforts.

With marketing departments spending more than ever (and more than IT) on technology, efficient management is crucial to ensuring a streamlined, effective implementation. Proficiency in both technology and marketing enhances the ability to leverage the best of both departments to align marketing plans, technology and customer journeys for a more effective collaboration.

Key technology spending in marketing

Greater accessibility to technology means more reliable analytics, storage and implementation. As such, B2B and B2C companies across sectors are spending more on Marketing Technology (martech) than on advertising, with 33 per cent of their marketing budgets going toward technology. Gartner breaks down that number into the following key spend areas:

  • Marketing and analytics software (SaaS): 24.4 per cent
  • Infrastructure (hosted/cloud servers, network storage): 28 per cent
  • IT Cross-charges: 21.3 per cent
  • External services for development, implementation, and integration of marketing applications: 25.2 per cent
  • Other: 1 per cent

Data drives the customer journey

Facts and figures naturally lead to data. Every customer undergoes a journey toward conversion as they search, discover, consider, decide, take action, personalise, act, and engage in their best interest. Data can pave the way to a more solid, personalised customer journey based on patterns, habits and preferences.

McKinsey study revealed that 56 per cent of customer interactions happen on a multi-channel, multi-touchpoint journey, and 38 per cent of all customer journeys take place with more than one channel interaction. It turns out the customer journey is responsible for 5-20 per cent of sales and provides greater insight into the customer experience than do touchpoints. Data mapping and analysis is crucial, and having the technology in place to implement insights will drive your success as an integrated, collaborative team.

The problem with silos

Once upon a time, marketing and IT were siloed with compartmentalised responsibilities that made sense. But when today’s departments depend on silos of teams, data, processes and software, they run in a very ad hoc fashion that makes it extremely difficult to scale, replicate and optimise. What’s more, silos inhibit alignment around relevant messages to the appropriate audience. Cross-functional collaboration can solve these problems by enabling a shared view of the customer with IT, sales and other stakeholders. It can breed more efficiency, improved workflows and even cost reductions. In other words, integration eliminates barriers and facilitates better internal engagement. Likewise, it eliminates barriers and facilitates better engagement between your brand and the consumer as well. The CMT empowers departments to collaborate for the success of each other and the company.

How to succeed as a CMT

So what do you need to do to thrive in your new role, or find someone who can? As a tech visionary focused on modernising marketing for today, CMTs must be willing to experiment for change. With in-depth knowledge and skills in tech and IT related functions and a passion for marketing, they have the capabilities of creating a more agile management system. Interaction and communication are crucial in this role—after all, the CMT aligns the efforts of CIO, outside vendors and service providers, senior marketing executives, and marketing teams to gain the competitive advantage. Tech in marketing isn’t going anywhere, and your CMT will need to be a bridge between your internal and external teams.

The above is an example of the complexity of Adtech/Martech in the Australian Landscape from Denise Shrivell’s MediaScope.

Predictions on what’s to come for marketing technology

The three spheres of martech (and adtech) encompass a variety of internal, external and product facing technologies that promise immense opportunities for the future.

  • Improved structures

Restructuring will enable marketing departments to tap into technology and software to better guide and manage their customers and to create new opportunities.

  • Automated marketing and sales

By 2020, 50 per cent of companies will automate the qualifying process for sales-ready leads. Utilising intelligent systems to sort through and respond to buyers will ensure properly nurtured leads for higher conversions.

  • Consolidated adtech and martech infrastructures

In 2017, 20 per cent of enterprise CMOs are expected to converge technology and marketing into a more streamlined, operational system.

  • Increased digital budgets

The increased interest and focus in the digital realm means that companies must allocate more of their marketing budget to digital tactics and technology to stay relevant. Forward-thinking business leaders intend to increase tech-related spending over the next 2 years, and 65 per cent intend to increase budgets for service providers with tech offerings.

  • Ramped up content marketing

In 2017, CMOs are expected to invest more in content marketing to drive their digital strategies for customer decision journey stages.

  • Predictive analytics

By 2018, marketers will be regularly using predictive analytics for precision targeting and will likely uncover new buyer segments.

  • Consolidated intelligence

By 2018, 50 per cent of CMOs will consolidate Market Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Competitive Intelligence and Social Intelligence into a larger group focused on sharing insights instead of working in silos.

With digital transformation, technology will continue to blur the lines between traditionally siloed departments and teams. Global leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve must bring departments and vendors together to bridge the gap and enhance customer engagement across every touchpoint—through solid, data-driven, tech-implemented insights.

* This post originally appeared on TechRevolution.Asia

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