Abstract tunnel of data

The blurring line between Marketing and IT

4th March 2015 • Features

by James Lawson, Contributing Editor

Fully exploiting the available technology to maxmimise the impact of a marketing campaign is a fundamental aspect of the marketing mix, but ensuring a successful amalgamation of both practices requires the right person in the right job — giving rise to the Chief Marketing Technologist.

Jon Cano-Lopez | Chief Executive, REaD Group
Geoff Downer | Director, Insight Stream
Katharine Hulls | VP Marketing, Celebrus Technologies
Simon Lawrence | Founder and CEO, Uncommon Knowledge
John Paterson | Chief Executive, Really Simple Systems
Carolyn Stebbings | Executive Managing Partner, Rapp Data

The culture clash between marketing and IT continues to fester. Yet, in a digital world, marketing is more dependent on technology than ever to manage its customers and prospects. For most businesses today, fully exploiting marketing technology is fundamental to survival, let alone success.

Simon Lawrence, Founder and CEO of consultancy Uncommon Knowledge, defines the challenge in terms of “core versus context” – a model expounded by consultant Geoffrey Moore in his book Dealing with Darwin. Moore encourages businesses to become expert in what is core and to outsource anything that is merely context.

“That ‘core versus contextual’ decision has to be made many times and in many places,” states Lawrence. “Today, I think marketing technology is definitely a core part of business management.”

So even if you outsource the systems and data themselves, making the right vendor choices and aligning their products with business goals requires authoritative in-house control. Could adding a senior management position specifically to manage customer systems help achieve that?

That approach is now finding many adherents in the US, but has yet to make it to the UK in any significant way. Though managers like these can have many different titles, US marketing tech guru Scott Brinker coined the term “Chief Marketing Technologist” (CMT) to describe them.

Brinker defines CMTs as “part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader and part teacher”. The role can involve evaluating and choosing technology providers, aligning systems with business goals, liaising with IT, monitoring and managing Marketing Service Providers, and even shaping digital business models.

“I come across many more marketing directors who are IT-savvy these days and people are starting to talk seriously about roles like this,” says Jon Cano-Lopez, Chief Executive at REaD Group. “Given the amount of data that’s being collected, the speed at which technology is advancing and the number of channels we’re adding, technology simply has to be a part of the marketing function.”

Brinker sees CMTs as primarily part of marketing, reporting to the marketing director or to another senior marketing executive. However, they would act as the “connective tissue” between that department and IT, translating marketing’s needs into technical requirements while making sure that any marketing systems adhere to IT policies.

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