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While presenting Tuesday at Pivot Conference, Scott Brinker, president and CTO of ion interactive, explained why he believes organizations should take the next step toward digital proficiency by fostering a new breed of executives — the chief marketing technologist. Brinker explains this type of executive as:
“… someone who has a hybrid between business and technology, a strong background in engineering and IT, is an early adopter of technology, but someone who also understands the pragmatic realities of scaling technology. But most importantly, someone who brings those skills and combines them with a deep love and passion for the marketing mix. This is a technologist that reports to the CMO, not the CIO.”
Traditionally, organizations silo functions into categories — communications, finance, creative, operations, and of course, marketing and technology, to name a few. Brinker’s case for the Chief Marketing Technologist has legs, especially as marketing and technology functions are becoming increasingly intertwined. Your company may have seasoned marketers and top-of-the-line technologists, but it takes those who are dually knowledgeable in both marketing and technology to really make the right moves in Internet marketing, as they are the ones who really understand the way the web works and what’s possible for marketing from a technological point of view.
Below are three missions that Brinker believes a Chief Marketing Technologist would be uniquely poised to tackle. We caught up with Brinker after his presentation and he elaborated on each of these points. Read on to see what he had to say and add your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Translating Strategy into Technology
The first mission for a chief marketing technologist should be to “collaborate with the CMO on translating strategies into technology with much higher fidelity, and vice-versa — also help in revealing new opportunities that technologies provide for new strategies,” Brinker said.
In our follow-up, Brinker explained the importance of having a middle ground between marketing and technology, in particular due to the lack of cohesion between marketing and tech jargon. “One of the challenges we see between marketing and the people who provide technology to marketers, whether it’s the IT department or outside vendors,” he said, “is that marketers have a certain language and nomenclature that they use to communicate their vision. And vice-versa, technologists spend years learning their lingo and perspective on the world.
“The idea of a marketing technologist is someone who’s natively versed in both languages and understands the concepts of what’s in technology and what’s in marketing, and they can serve as the translator,” he concluded.
2. Choreographing Technology Across Marketing
“Choreograph the entire collection of marketing, technology and data that we see throughout the organization. Find ways to tap the synergy between all of these different components,” Brinker suggested.
We asked Brinker what this might entail for a chief marketing technologist, including the type of data that he was referencing. He explained, “All of this technology that’s popping up all over marketing — web analytics, marketing automation, advertising behavioral segmentation — are all fairly sophisticated on their own. The problem is that behind the scenes, they don’t talk very well together. It’s not because the products can’t talk together — it’s because there isn’t really anyone connecting the dots.”
The effect of not having someone like a marketing technologist to bridge the gap between various data banks is an overload of inefficiently used data. “I think what we’re seeing here is more and more data,” Brinker said, “that there’s no one really finding ways of taking data from the web analytics, for instance, and feeding that into our conversion optimization testing. How do we take the experiences someone has on a conversion optimization path and feed that into the marketing optimization system?”
3. Infusing Tech into the Company’s Marketing DNA
“Perhaps most importantly, is to infuse technology into the DNA of marketing itself — our practices, our people, our culture,” Brinker said.
He recommended “having people on your team, in your group that have physical proximity to you who really get the technology, because they’re as eager to hear from you about marketing objectives and strategies, [as they are] to talk about what they’re doing in technology.”
Brinker explained that having technology-versed team members on a team helps facilitate “natural osmosis by raising the [level of] technical proficiency and familiarity” of an organization. He believes that a marketing technologist’s role is to seek out marketing candidates who have technical backgrounds. Employing tech-savvy people is a step toward infusing technology into a company’s culture and DNA.
Does your company support a position similar to Brinker’s proposed chief marketing technologist? If so, let us know in the comments.
See Brinker’s full presentation from the Pivot Conference below:
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