Enter the Chief Marketing Technologist

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Technology is changing the marketing game.
Technology is changing the marketing game.

Marketing and technology have become intertwined. With the advent of thousands of software applications and services made specifically to enable marketers to reach their target audiences, technology is simply part of the game. That's where the emerging role of chief marketing technologist comes into play. Analyst Laura McLellan of Gartner recently published the study, “How the Presence of a Chief Marketing Technologist Impacts Marketing.” The report shows that in 2013, 81% of organizations surveyed had the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist, compared to 70 percent in 2012. Another 8% of organizations plan to add a chief marketing technologist during the next two years.

“Marketing has become more of a technology-powered discipline,” says Scott Brinker, chief technology officer at Ion Interactive, a marketing technology company that develops software to track and analyze user behavior.  “While technology was once on the periphery for marketers, today so many aspects are being powered by technology.” With this growing reality, more companies are deciding to have someone to lead the integration and innovation of marketing technology.

As companies begin to include this senior management position, the quest to define the role becomes imperative. Gartner surveyed 229 companies varying in services from hi-tech firms and retail to healthcare and manufacturing. For most, the chief marketing technologist will be part strategist, part creative, and part technologist, according to the Gartner report. He or she should orchestrate all of the technologies that affect the marketing team and make sure marketers know how to use and optimize each platform.  Two-thirds of respondents say aligning technologies with business goals is the primary responsibility of a chief marketing technologist. Aside from tech firms, this sentiment was strongest among retail executives, with 82% agreeing compared to just 50% of media firms. Some other primary responsibilities spelled out in the survey for a chief marketing technologist include serving as the liaison between marketing and IT departments, choosing platforms and providers, and prioritizing funding.

Once the role has been defined and assigned, however, who will the chief marketing technologist report to? More than 70% of respondents say the company's chief marketing executive, while just 29% say internal IT. “It's mostly a combo of working with the CMO and the CIO,” Brinker says. “But at the end of the day, the role is focused on helping marketers accomplish their goals.”

Companies in the study that have a chief marketing technologist seem to place more value on marketing efforts—at least if you look at the marketing budgets. Organizations with this position doled nearly 12% of revenue on marketing. Those without the role spent just 7%. What's more, the report indicates that those with a chief marketing technologist are more likely to increase their marketing expense budgets in 2014, with much of that expansion allocated to digital marketing.

As the role continues to evolve, so could the title, duties, and expectations. Analysts at Gartner predict that by 2017 the chief marketing officer will spend more on technology than the chief information officer. This finding implies the chief marketing technologist will grow in influence and visibility. More companies need someone to lead the day to day management of marketing technologies. And as companies incorporate and innovate more technology for marketers, this position will be one that a growing number of companies will need to succeed.

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