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24.12.2014
Last week, I gave my talk at Search Insider Summit on the Rise of the Marketing Technologist. However, since slides can’t capture the full dynamics of the presentation, I thought I would follow with an essay version of my talk as well.
Internal technology is what we use to manage and analyze marketing operations, such as analytics, SEO auditing, competitive intelligence, and social media monitoring. One of the reasons it’s getting harder is because of the growing number of technology decisions marketers must struggle with. Every time a new platform or application arrives on the field, the decision space actually grows exponentially. Marketers have the vision, incentives, accountability, and alignment — but often lack the technical depth. Now, since each of these players has some of the pieces, it might be suggested that the solution is to bring everyone together for a big meeting and let the answer emerge from consensus. Speaking of contention, any discussion of marketing must address the frequently broken relationship between marketing and IT. IT is primarily concerned with stability, security, economy, standardization, and functional specs. But the relationship between marketing and IT isn’t the only way to manage technology. I propose a new role in the marketing department: a marketing CTO or chief marketing technologist. The marketing CTO would be perched at the intersection of those three spheres of marketing technology, providing the technical leadership to orchestrate and optimize them. Instead, I am suggesting that technology become one of the vertical pillars of the marketing function — with the marketing CTO as its head. Resources that used to be begged, borrowed, or bought would instead become a native part of the marketing organization. I do think it’s better to think of this capability holistically as marketing technology, rather than breaking it down into separate specialties. The marketing CTO is the person who combines marketing vision and technical depth to direct the entire landscape of a company’s marketing technology portfolio. Ultimately, the goal of the marketing CTO is to enable the CMO to wield technology as a strategic marketing capability.
But while a marketing CTO can be a great change agent, catalyst, and leader for this new branch of marketing, integrating technology more deeply into the marketing function isn’t a one-person show. But even though not all marketers have a background as a graphic designer or art director, such creative capabilities are deeply interwoven into the culture of marketing.
That is how marketing must embrace technology — as a new fundamental building block of its DNA. A key benefit to empowering marketing with its own technical talent will be an acceleration of the clockspeed in implementing technology-based programs. The overarching vision is that the cross-pollination of marketing and technology cultures will lead to innovative hybrid models of marketing technology management that are indigenous to this new era of marketing. And the value of developing such innate technical savvy will only increase as scale and scope of marketing technology grows. One of the most fascinating fields of research today is at the intersection of computer science and marketing.
Thanks to the economies of cloud computing, these computational marketing capabilities will not be limited to a handful of the Fortune 500.
If I’ve persuaded you of the potential of this future, your first question may be: where do we find these mythical creatures called marketing technologists? But the talent, skill set, and experience that we’re looking for does exist out there.
Many of them have already infiltrated marketing, perhaps through an interactive agency, a web development project, or search engine optimization.
Within the next several years, marketing technologists and marketing CTOs could be some of the hottest jobs in our industry. Agencies should focus on the creative services, outside perspective, consultative expertise, and best practices that they can bring to their clients. On the contrary, I believe that strong marketing technology leadership at companies will actually help agencies and vendors, since it will enable those marketing departments to make technology associated decisions faster and easier — based on solid judgment, not superstition. Better yet, such technologically-savvy marketers will be better able to apply the contributions from agencies and vendors — and ultimately will have a better chance of success.


There are a number of certifications for PMs out there, by different organisations (AIPMM, Pragmatic Marketing, Blackblot etc.).
I think we agree on your second point though: I believe that technology should be more tightly integrated with the creative process.
Good post, very aligned with one I was going to give but had to back out of SIS at the last minute. How do we enable position specs to be written so that more and more people with generalist and broad skill sets are coveted? How do we awaken recruiters and hiring managers to realize business focused ideas and execution matter more than job titles? How do we create organizations that reward and embrace new and highly misunderstood skill sets like search at the top of the process rather than working to maintain the status quo? You raise excellent questions about the different ways to scale technology leadership in marketing across large organizations (such as IBM). Thanks for pointing out that the field of competitive and market intelligence was probably underrepresented in my presentation and post. And given how fast this industry is growing, in all directions simultaneously, that’s just going to get more challenging in the years ahead. I am in total agreement that there is a very real, but largely unseen, need for people who understand IT and marketing. I’ve been an IT techie for 17 years and recently made the leap to the Search Engine Marketing world. My background in data analysis and IT Systems management give me a perspective that the marketing department doesn’t have. I agree with other comments that the role is similar to Product Management of a suite of technology products.
As a Marketing and Communications agency it’s sometimes difficult to explain why we have such a big technology department and why it brings such important value to our offer but we are basically the in-sourced Marketing Technologists. All marketing professionals should have technology background and a certain level of know-how in term of execution and integration with company current technology- Feasibility of technology integration is key to harvest full potential of the blossoming technology landscape. I’ll research more to be prepared when I graduate and take a Master in this, if it exist by now! If the idea for your next project includes graffiti lettering, then venture on over to Graffiti Creator to start vandalizing your desktop!
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Based on the positive feedback I received from brands, agencies, and technology vendors alike, it apparently resonated deeply.
Web applications, widgets, Facebook apps, iPhone apps, Android apps, interactive ads, the semantic web, and even the connected features of your products are now part of marketing’s realm. As marketers, we now manage a vast, extended web that includes landing pages, microsites, social media outposts, mobile apps, dynamic ads and more. External technology includes the platforms we use to reach our audience and deliver content — web sites, ads, landing pages, email campaigns, and apps of all kinds.
Marketers have more application and platform decisions to make than ever — bid management, campaign management, conversion optimization, attribution management, marketing automation, social media monitoring, behavioral targeting etc.
Marketing is more concerned with speed, agility, innovation, market impact, differentiation, and customer experience.
The accountability so widely promoted in digital marketing has you in the hot seat for results.
This person would be a technologist, with a strong background in software and technology management.
Like the other facets of marketing, I believe the shift from strict silos such as search or social to a more integrated approach is important. Timeframes, technical specifications, architecture choices, and final deliverables can all be reviewed by an expert who is perfectly aligned with marketing’s agenda. This can be analogous to the relationship between a less-technical CIO and his or her CTO, or between a product CTO and the CEO. The future of marketing is having technologists seamlessly embedded throughout the marketing department — collaborating in synchronized harmony across many teams.
Part of this speed-up will be purely organizational — having engineers directly on your team, sitting right next to you, perfectly aligned with your mission is bound to be faster than the slow and arduous process of constantly crossing organizational boundaries and vying for the attention of people who are not 100% focused on your goals. This is the emerging field of computational marketing — somewhat analogous to the revolution of computer science and finance that birthed the industry of computational finance.


A whole generation of web developers and web entrepreneurs have developed these commingled capabilities — out of necessity and desire.
They shouldn’t fear this future where marketers have more direct technology leadership.
Yours are excellent stories to hear, as I suspect a number of marketing groups are moving in this direction — it makes sense given the state of marketing.
They know the customer and the market inside out, and they are the ones that can help form a product the customer wants.
Yes, it presents itself as though it is, but technology has been a part of marketing since marketing begun.
I think there is a question as to whether the universe of technology in which marketing is now operating is analogous to other shifts in media.
We have been evangelizing & selling marketing automation in the cloud here in Belgium for the past decade. I briefly mentioned competitive intelligence as an internal technology in the 3 spheres diagram, but truthfully, that was just picked as one example out of a large number of possible ones. It makes more sense for smaller companies and start ups, but if there is a CMO and CTO in strong collaboration, then this can be accomplished between them as well, then the CTO may be accountable to technology that makes more over arching sense, and the CMO to traffic etc. The importance of utilizing technology for marketing professionals is only going to increase over time. The result, predictably, will be an explosion of marketing technology products and services over the next 5 years.
I view this as a kind of solar system model, with many platform planets orbiting your central marketing strategy. Web shops, agencies, and technology vendors may have a good mix of marketing vision and technical depth, but their business alignment has a different vector than yours.
It’s only sensible that you should have full control over the means and mechanisms to deliver those results. We coined the term marketing technopologist for a person who brings together strengths in marketing, technology and social interaction.
There will always be some specialization, but the real potential is in broadly connecting the dots. A CMO doesn’t need to have been a Chief Creative Officer, but he or she must know how to manage and lead such resources. They often have a formal engineering background followed by business or marketing graduate studies or in-the-trenches experience. Neither should be trying to substitute for solid marketing technology leadership at their clients.
My particular division is structured similar to what you suggested here, but our focus is really data and analytic. The plethora of choices in marketing technology and methods is only going to become more complex.
Most marketers we talk to do get the idea, but aligning other functions in the process (sales, channel management, IT) can sometimes result in sales and implementation cycles that span years instead of months… Having techies in the marketing organisation with access to the decision makers could surely help. In any case, I can cite many examples of where it is important for the CMO to leverage technology especially for SEO!! Mobile, social, ideation, predictive markets, video everywhere, big data, it’s all exploding and layered with a startup innovation cycle on steroids. So I was looking how to combine them and the CMT looks just what I love: Marketing and Computer Science.
It’s just that their incentives cause them to value their own respective priorities more. It allows just enough customization to make it interesting, yet simple enough to save the image and easily trace in Adobe Illustrator if need be (hint-hint). Our sole focus is to provide marketing data by working internal and externally (separate analytic team sits within marketing work on campaign ROI).
A lot of the best brands have been spearheading efforts to leverage their marketing expertise for the benefits of their channel partners. Sort of like a Oreo cookie, we are the cream in the middle with marketing and engineering on each side.



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