What Is A Chief Marketing Technologist?

Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business. A new type of executive is emerging at the center of the transformation: the chief marketing technologist

CMTs are part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher. Although they have an array of titles, they have a common job: aligning marketing technology with business goals, serving as a liaison to IT, and evaluating and choosing technology providers. About large proportion of CMTs around the world are charged with helping craft new digital business models as well.

So why a CMT? In a digital world, software is the chief means of engaging prospects and customers. A marketing team’s choice of software and how to configure and operate it, along with how creatively the team applies it, materially affects how the firm perceives and influences its audience and how the audience sees the firm.

As digital marketing and e-commerce increasingly replace traditional marketing strategies, the importance of mastering those capabilities grows. Digital marketing budgets are expanding annually at double-digit rates, and CEOs say that digital marketing is now the most important technology-powered investment their firms can make.

This rise in digital budgets is not merely a migration of spending from traditional to digital media. A growing portion of marketing’s budget is now allocated to technology itself. A recent Gartner study found that 67% of marketing departments plan to increase their spending on technology-related activities over the next two years. In addition, 61% are increasing capital expenditures on technology, and 65% are increasing budgets for service providers that have technology-related offerings.

The CMT’s job, broadly in this context, is to enable the meticulous use of technology to achieve marketing goals He or she is the equivalent of a business unit–level CIO or CTO. People in this role need technical depth—many have backgrounds in IT management or software development—but they must also be passionate about marketing. A common profile is an executive with an undergraduate degree in computer science and a graduate degree in business. Many CMTs have experience in digital agencies or with building customer-facing web products.

Most CMTs report primarily to marketing, either to the CMO or to another senior marketing executive, such as the VP of marketing operations or the VP of digital marketing. Many also have dotted-line reporting relationships with IT. CMTs also facilitate and prioritize technology requests from marketing, translating between technical and marketing requirements and making sure that marketing’s systems adhere to IT policies.

The work of these CMTs shows just how open-ended this new role is—and why an executive fully at home in both marketing and IT is essential for the job.

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