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Technology-Driven, Must-Have Marketing Skills


As marketing technology advances, marketing leaders must ensure that they have the right people and processes to get the most from their tech investments. Today, right often translates to adaptable. For marketers this means continual advancement in the skills they need to excel at their job. For processes, adaptable may mean flexible or even transformative.

Here’s a deeper dive into how tech drives the people and inner workings of many modern, evolving companies.

Technology and people
Marketing technology today requires marketers to be data-driven and tech-savvy, as well as content creators. “The way the industry is right now, people are looking for specialists,” says Lauren Ferrara, lead recruiter at Creative Circle. “So, even when [we’re trying to fill] a marketing role, we dive in and find out if it’s more analytics, if it’s more content creation, or if it’s more strategic.”

Ferrara says that a marketer who’s looking for the next opportunity—or perhaps who’s looking to advance within his company—needs to have a firm grasp on technology just to be considered. “Overall, what clients are looking for are candidates who demonstrate strong ideation skills around creative uses of technology,” she says. “[They want] someone who can speak eloquently about digital technology to clients [and] stakeholders, and who can guide the [marketing] strategy in that direction.”

That’s the overarching view of how technology is driving recruiting, hiring, training, and skill-sets today. But Ferrara says that technology is prompting companies to get more granular and stringent with their requirements. “Where we see the biggest change is tech skills in social media,” she says. “Every brand that we’re working with—and almost every agency that we’re working with—obviously has a social media presence, and they’re looking to grow that. They’re looking for their marketers to understand that space, not only from a content perspective, but [also] from an analytics perspective and a strategic perspective. So, as far as anything from technology that’s changed the marketing game the most, it’s social media.”

“Technology has been a double-edged sword for marketers,” says Don Schuerman, ?chief technology officer and VP of product marketing at CRM platform Pegasystems. “It’s given marketers far greater access to data, far more ways to reach their customers—whether it’s technology like social, mobile devices, or even the emergence of the Web 10 years ago. So, marketers have a greater set of tools at their disposal. However, that means that to be a marketer you have to know a little bit about a lot of technology.”

Understanding marketing technology is only part of the equation for marketers. That technology provides reams of data for marketers to analyze and enables them to do more with the data—and, ultimately, impact the bottom line. “Data is huge,” Ferrara says. “The reason companies are able to digitally engage is because the data is all trackable, especially social media.”

She says that data—extracted from actions such as how many people are clicking, engaging, and reacting to company messages—requires marketers to use the right tech tools to make meaningful changes to internal operations and strategy. “Tech requires marketers to not just pull reports, but [also] be able to take that data and pull meaningful insights from it and understand what it means,” Ferrara says. “Then take that and be able to change the strategy or change how a brand is talking to a consumer. It’s all because of technology.”

Technology and processes
The changes created by marketing technology are in many cases pushing marketers beyond their comfort zones when it comes to skill. But that’s not where the changes end. The ongoing digital transformation is leading the push to reinvent marketing practices and processes, as well. Many marketing organizations, however, remain slow to catch on. In fact, a recent study released by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Pegasystems reveals that just 10% of surveyed executives say their businesses are fully digital. There is a silver lining: While a majority of the nearly 450 executives surveyed have yet to implement digital transformation plans, they say that they expect their operations to be 80% digital within the next five years or more.

Technology can transform the internal operations, i.e. processes, of a marketing organization, so marketers can set goals, work toward those goals, and achieve their desired outcomes more effectively and efficiently than ever before. “I don’t like the term processes because different people think of processes differently,” Pegasystems’ Schuerman says. “I like to think of it as work and outcomes because most of the time that people think about process, they’re thinking about work that needs to get done that’s going to deliver some meaningful business outcome to the company or to the customer. Process is just one of the ways in which that work gets done.”

Schuerman says that when it comes to internal operations, marketing technology has one main role: “Technology should be helping companies make their processes simpler, both for the employees and customers,” he says. “But when you look inside these organizations, particularly large organizations, processes became complex.”

Some experts say, however, that there’s one major caveat when it comes to marketing technology. “The tools aren’t enough to make a marketing process successful,” says Don Nelson, head of content and e-commerce at eClerx, a digital marketing operation and process company. “You’ve got to bring in customer data; it must be smart [data]. It has to answer marketers’ questions, and be structured, accurate, and up-to-date.”

Nelson adds that the proper use of tech tools is what promotes the most effective processes inside an organization—particularly among the marketing team. “To effectively change processes and management, it requires proper governance of the collection and the hygiene of the data,” he says. “Technology can help document that change, figure out where there are inefficiencies, and meet business goals.”

As technology continues to fuel the inner workings of most every marketing operation, marketers are now required to become master technologists. Those behind the curve will spend more time and resources trying to catch up with competitors. Those ahead of the curve, however, will become market leaders and disruptors.

“Technology has made this a very different world,” Schuerman says. “It’s made marketers who can learn the technology more effective, but it’s also made the jobs and the skill-set that you need to be a good marketer significantly harder. We simply have moved to an expectation in which you have to be a businessperson who understands technology. And now we have an emergence of people who know and love technology, which is simply today’s tool to get things done.”

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Marketing Tech Changes Everything

2016 will be a seminal year for marketers who are adjusting everything from budgets and processes to staffing and strategy as they aim to exploit technology

Part 1 > The Marketer and Her Sous Chef: Cuisinart’s director of marketing communications may drive strategy, but it’s her collaboration with the CIO that allows the brand to cook up true innovation.

Part 2 > What the Dickens to Do About Marketing Tech:  It’s the best of times and the worst of times for marketers with unlimited possibilities and limited resources.

Part 3 > Technology-Driven, Must-Have Marketing Skills: The proliferation of marketing technology is changing how marketers work and the skills they need to succeed.

Part 4 > Buyer Beware: Marketers may not be asking the right questions to select the optimal marketing technology and then maximize it.

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