Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 11, 2010 9:36 PM

The Time Is Ripe For A Chief Marketing Technologist

Think about where the world of business is. Think about how much Marketing has changed. Think about how much of that change is due to technology.

When my agency, Twist Image, got started in 2000, there was an issue in the Marketing world: more often than not the website and whatever remedial online marketing initiatives a brand was engaged with were housed within the IT (or technology) department. More often than not, the Marketers of the time were not all that tech savvy and - to be blunt - were terrified of the technology. If the IT department said something was not possible, they simply took that direction as law. Marketers didn't have the knowledge base or experience to debate it.

That's where the opportunity was/is.

Our little agency quickly realized that the true Marketing agency of the future would be one that could both work with the technology department by helping them to understand how to best deliver powerful online initiatives, while also working with Marketers to help them be less afraid of the IT department. I jokingly say that "not much has changed in the past decade," but that is just a joke. Sort of. The truth is that the digital divide gap has shrunk, but it's still far from where it should be.

The technology has advanced. The Marketing has advanced.

Who amongst us is not using technology (on many levels) more and more every day to deliver more Marketing efficiencies to the brands we represent? I've been in corporate boardrooms where the online marketing department is tethered into the general marketing department while the online channel of the organization (the website, etc...) is tethered into the IT department. I've also seen instances where the online channel stands alone while the online marketing is tethered into Marketing. Confused? You should be? Departmental divisions like this seem logical on an org chart and in planning, but rarely act that way out in the wild.

Bring forth the Chief Marketing Technologist.

While helping to organize a Marketing conference next year, I came across this notion of a Chief Marketing Technologist and it made my ears perk up. In researching the concept further (thank you, Google), I came across the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog by Scott Brinker (by the looks of it, he's been using the term since 2008 or so). Brinker recently published an article in Advertising Age titled, The Case for a Chief Marketing Technologist (September 29th, 2010), where he states:

"Marketing has become deeply entwined with technology. This didn't happen overnight; it's been sneaking up on us for a while. But because technology had been so tangential to marketing management for most of our history, the organizational structure of marketing has been slow to adjust to this new technology-centric reality. But we've clearly reached a tipping point. To fully reap the benefits of this Golden Age, marketing must officially take ownership of its technology platforms and strategies. And the first step of such ownership is to appoint someone to lead it. Enter the chief marketing technologist."

It makes perfect sense.

We can no longer continue down a road where IT, Technology and Marketing are not at the table together. We can no longer continue down a road where Marketing is not held to full accountability based on metrics, analytics and results. We can no longer continue down a road where this is not a critical part of the c-suite and how the overall brand and organization operates. We can longer continue down a road where this isn't a corporate imperative. While the idea of a Chief Marketing Technologist probably didn't make sense for any organization five years ago, it's hard to imagine that all of the Fortune 1000 companies are operating without one today.

You have to stop and wonder, why don't most organizations of size and substance have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

By Mitch Joel