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Marketing Technologist: The Next Critical Marketing Role?

by Jen Cohen Crompton

Marketing Technologist: The Next Critical Marketing Role?

What is a marketing technologist?

Loosely defined, a marketing technologist is someone with IT management or software engineering skills who passionately applies their talents in the service of marketing. These talented pros help define and execute strategy and operations in modern marketing, where code and data have become as critical as copy and design.

On Wednesday, September 17th, Scott Brinker, Chief Marketing Technologist at ion interactive and author of the popular Chief Marketing Technologist blog, addressed the importance of this emerging role in a webcast, “The Rise of the Marketing Technologist,” which was hosted by the American Marketing Association and sponsored by Aquent.

Brinker based his presentation on insights gathered from working at the intersection of marketing and IT since 2008. During this time, he has seen technology become a more and more integral part of marketing. This is most evident, he suggested, in the case of “digital marketing.

“Digital,” he pointed out, “is no longer a silo and has become integrated into the very definition of marketing.” As proof he pointed to this headline from Adweek: “CMOs Are Preparing for Digital to Grow to 75% of Marketing Budgets.”

The fact that, as Adweek claimed, “almost half [of the CMOs surveyed] are worried about managing this change,” merely highlighted the need for technologists in marketing.

Modern marketing is fully technologized

In a digital world, Brinker said, software increasingly facilitates contact between marketers and their audiences. And the experiences mediated by this software can leave an everlasting impression on the customer.

In other words, the marketing software a company chooses to use will have an inordinate impact on customer experience. What’s more, technology permeates and supports every operational function from email, website, and content management to marketing automation, project coordination, and social media engagement.

It is this centrality of technology to marketing today that is driving the rise of the marketing technologist.

Technology is where the money is going

Currently, according to Brinker, digital marketing budgets are often funded by rearranging existing marketing budgets. This may shift in the near future.

According to a Gartner study, CEOs believe that the most important technology-enabled investment over the next five years will be precisely digital marketing. In fact, this study suggested that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO!

If money is getting spent, it needs to be spent wisely and someone needs to be accountable for that spend. That someone is the marketing technologist.

The new collaboration between marketing and IT

Ultimately, Brinker insisted, the effective integration of marketing and technology will depend on collaboration and coordination both within the marketing department and across the organization between marketing and IT.

The wrong way to facilitate such collaboration, according to Brinker, is to divide responsibilities between CMOs and CIOs in a way that makes the former responsible for strategy and the latter for technology.

Instead, he recommended that with the guidance of the marketing technologist both functions work closely together, letting IT inform the strategic choices of marketing, and marketing play a stronger leadership role in technology management.

If you would like to learn more about the capabilities and responsibilities of marketing technologists, the profile of someone who excels in this role, and where to find him or her, watch the recording of “The Rise of the Marketing Technologist” webcast or download the slides.

Image Source (Creative Commons): crabchick.

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