“By 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the [CTO].” – Forbes.com

There is a powerful trend happening across sizable organizations right now. We know marketing has become a more technology-driven, data-focused practice in the last 5-10 years and marketing technologies are cheaper and easier to deploy than ever before. Concurrently, IT companies are rapidly building new services on to their core offerings to entice clients into a more “holistic” technology for their business. Investments are picking up and marketers and technology professionals are spinning, in hopes their visions of cost-effective, targeted, seamless, integrated whatever turn out fruitful.

At this dizzying pace, it is quickly becoming apparent that we’re near a cross-functional crossroads where a marketer must understand the fundamentals of a company’s technology and a technologist must understand the customer communication goals. A place where a marketer must understand what types of code talk to other types of code nicely and what systems instead require a “middleware” solution. Where the technologist can see the most important data points and develop an appropriate way to present analytics to various levels of an sales organization. A marketer needs to recognize IT resource strain and weigh third-party solutions relative to long term technology gaps. A technologist must concede that sometimes more sales need to come in the door before a new server upgrade is possible.

CMO-CTO Convergence of Roles

The Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Technology/Information Officer lines are blurring and its worth discussing what new organizational structures might make sense in the near future. Breaking the functional or matrix management structure is hard. Not many of us are even thinking about it yet. But, if we agree it’s worth discussing, there is no better place to start than the CMO and CTO. First, I think it’s important to look at how most companies position these roles today.

The CMO Job Description

Here’s an average Chief Marketing Officer’s job description after reviewing a few recruiting sites and job postings:

A chief marketing officer is responsible for an organization’s day-to-day marketing operation. The Chief Marketing Officer leads marketing operations, sales operations, product management, partnership marketing, customer service and customer retention. CMOs coordinate the production of public relations, media, creative, promotions and advertising. They ensure the organization’s message is distributed across channels and to targeted audiences in order to meet sales objectives.

CMOs typically report directly to the chief executive officer.

Chief marketing officers often plan, direct and coordinate marketing budgets in accordance to organizational goals. Reviewing and approving advertising campaigns, marketing reports, vendor contracts and expenditures are additional job duties for CMOs.

Generating revenue by increasing sales through successful marketing for the entire organization is perhaps the chief marketing officer’s most significant responsibility. To do it successfully, they must recruit, hire and supervise staff, including creative directors, graphic designers, application developers and media professionals.

The CTO/CIO Job Description

Here’s an average Chief Technology/Information Officer’s job description after reviewing a few recruiting sites and job postings:

Chief technology officers are responsible for the overall technological direction of an organization. A CTO is focused on technology integral to products being sold to customers or clients. They are responsible for establishing a company’s technical vision and leading all aspects of technology development. They identify technology trends and evolving social behavior that may support or impede the success of the business’ technology. Specific duties include leading the strategy for technology platforms, partnerships and external relationships as well as building and managing the technology team.

CTOs generally report to the chief executive officer.

Establishing technical standards and ensuring adherence is an additional responsibility for CTOs. They often supervise software testing, and information systems security and maintenance. CTOs also lead their organizations in anticipating and reacting to major technology changes. Their duties may also include supervising web application and software development as well as generating new products and facilitating their entry to market. In many cases “research and development” teams as well as engineering teams report up through the CTO’s organization.

The Common Bonds

Place those two job descriptions side by side and you will notice a few common threads immediately…

  1. Product Experiences
  2. Market Research
  3. Sales / Converting Customers
  4. Analytics
  5. Governance / Risk / Compliance

I would particularly focus on product experiences as I believe the largest strategic breakdowns occur in this area. Some of you will say breakdowns occur in all of these. I won’t argue that, they do. But, let’s focus on product here. I define product experiences as any encounter a with good or service you provide. These encounters span from a social review (e.g. Yelp restaurant rating) to the crème brûlée you enjoyed for dessert at the restaurant. In a different field: from the analytics software package you are considering for your company, to the tagging installation, to the report your analyst sends you on shopping cart abandonment.

Think about that last example. An analytics company. There are a TON of analytics companies; web analytics a la Google and Webtrends to emerging social tools like Sprout Social and Argyle. The data-obsessed have a lot of demands, so you can imagine how difficult it must be to play in this space. You release one version and customers immediately send you feedback about the interface, or new features, or old features they want back, or “deeper integration with x” or another workflow request that fits their company’s structure. The demands are endless, but the root of these demands is not simply technological. It’s presentation, training, positioning and explanation. A classic conversation with a client and his or her account executive at the analytics company might sound something like this:

[CLIENT] We wanted the platform to break out funnel attrition by social channel.

[ANALYTICS’ COMPANY REP] And it most definitely can do that. That functionality was released in our 20.2 update late last year.

[CLIENT] No one ever told us. We went through the whole manual last week, there was nothing there.

[ANALYTICS’ COMPANY REP] You were probably using our Learning Book version 4.52. We updated that information last month to 4.53 and you can find it .com/learningbook

[CLIENTS talking to each other] Did you know they had a site for the manual? No, I didn’t know. Did you? I check their Twitter everyday. Well..[mumbling]

This conversation takes place every day between a providers and clients with varying degrees of hostility. But, the issue is often not a technological one. It’s simply how you communicated the offering. CMO. CTO. Start talking. Or find someone who can picture this end-to-end, sense where customers might feel some pain, and make sure the people, process and communications are in the right place.

CMO Brain of the Future

The Future…Hybridism?

Broadly speaking, the future marketing/technology hybrid role should be “the interface between the company and the customer–responsible not only for marketing communications but also…for product development and sales.” I would take this a step further and say if you are responsible for the “customer experience,” then all customer-facing technologies fall under your purview. The next generation marketer is responsible for any experience a customer has with the brand.

This future leader will no longer serve as a “brand sheriff,” but more so a collaborator and facilitator within an organization (Moveo.com). You’ve probably seen the CXO (Chief Experience Officer) title thrown around in the last few years as an attempt to address the gap, but I’m not sure people with this title always have the appropriate balance of technology and marketing skills.

Many people believe mobile has been the catalyst for this evolving skill set. It’s definitely been a big part. Much like the original ownership of websites in the 90s, marketing and IT face a new crossroads full of differing road maps, goals, and experiences.

If this is truly going to evolve though, I suggest a shift across our university marketing programs as well. For every communications class, there should be a systems class. For every market analysis class, there should be a class on products and experiences built with Java and other coding languages. Gates, Zuckerberg and most of Silicon Valley think your kids should be learning code as early as possible. Marry that with an understanding of communication, psychology and P&Ls, and the next generation might produce some unbelievable experiences.


CMO Job Description – eHowFlorida Tech OnlineBuildOn

Who Needs a CMO Anyway? – Forbes.com

CTO Job Description – Fortuity ConsultingFlorida Tech OnlineWikipedia

Image Credit – CMO.com