Chief Marketing Technologist: The CMO’s Unicorn

With social networks, IoT, learning algorithms and more than 2,000 marketing technology (martech) vendors, marketing leaders? choices are overwhelming, and so a new executive role has emerged: the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT).

It’s reported that in 2014, 81 percent of organizations with $500M+ in revenue had a CMT or the equivalent. Nonetheless, they have been dubbed ?unicorns? because of how difficult they are to find. Part technologist, marketer and business strategist, their value seems opaque to many boards and executives. But, by enabling the entire organization to create superior customer experiences, the CMT becomes the CMO’s wingman.

Eighty-nine percent of recently surveyed marketing leaders said they expect their companies to compete primarily through customer experience by 2017, when it’s predicted that 50 percent of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations. Forrester’s 2014 Customer Experience Index (CXi) estimated that $1.6 billion in revenue is missed due to subpar customer experiences.

Digital marketing is initiation and exposure over time and initiated by the consumer, with marketers driving frequent visits to a learning, entertaining or inspirational experience. Enter the Chief Marketing Technologist.

The CMT is responsible for the technologies that power marketing experiences. Based on the company’s strategy and IT parameters, the CMT assembles technology providers and builds a portfolio of martech platforms, implementing a digital strategy that aligns them with business goals. The CMT should not become a ‘Shadow IT,’ but can addresses IT’s cost and security concerns.

IT feels threatened by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions because SaaS technology can be implemented without their assistance. Understanding that IT plays a vital role in new technology, the CMT is emissary and mediator to IT and marketing, creating a healthy culture, training team members and demonstrating value. They hire technical personnel and train employees to utilize the martech stack, coordinate traditional marketers and the new technical team, and train in multiple technologies so skillsets are easier to replace.

The CMT’s performance is measured by ‘customer-facing impact.’ How does new marketing technology influence the company’s pipeline, brand value, social engagement, etc.? Attribution is tricky because CMTs primarily serve a support role, neither managing the martech platforms, producing content, nor possessing full ownership over the ROI or customer satisfaction. As a result the CMT may land in the uncomfortable position of ‘data broker,’ so smart CMTs figure out how to provide self-service access to data.

CMTs share some core proficiencies, but their technical and marketing backgrounds may defer. Companies will need to identify what type of CMT they need, specifically.

They should be effective communicators, with the ability to explain new marketing needs or the ROI in new systems. CMTs aren’t necessarily software engineers or data scientists, but they could be. Currently only 26 percent have STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) degrees, which may be problematic, depending on a company’s marketing strategy.

CMTs can be categorized into six archetypes:

  • Marketing Mavens (generalists)
  • Content Curators
  • Media and Marketing Analyzers
  • Data Divas
  • Infrastructure Architects
  • Experience Engineers

All skillsets in one individual is rare, so companies searching for a CMT will need to decide which ones matter most, and perhaps empower their CMO to hire marketing technologists with complementary skillsets.

Currently, CMTs are likely to be found in web 2.0 startups and digital agencies where training programs may exist. In June 2015, the University of Wisconsin-Stout became the first, and only, institution to offer a bachelor’s degree in Digital Marketing Technology. Others will follow suit, but it will be a while before graduates become experienced enough to fill a CMT role.

IT employees supportive of marketing initiatives might crossover into the CMT role, as could a head of product development with a management background, technical skills and experience coordinating across multiple departments.

Analysts, agencies and practitioners all agree that a CMT is crucial, but corporate boards and CEOs question their value. However, CMTs can address this problem by implementing data-driven martech systems that measure their own performance and that of the entire marketing department. CMTs may be ‘unicorns,’ but they do exist and can transform a company – a wingman that no CMO can afford to be without.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *