The Marketing Technologist: Time has Come!

The Marketing Technologist: Time has Come

In a recent Brandweek article I saw a quote from Lynne Seid, a senior partner at Heidrick and Struggles – one of the top recruiting firms in the world – in which she said: “We’re seeing the emergence of the chief digital officer reporting into a global CMO.” This explains many of the calls I have been getting from recruiters also looking for someone just to do “all that digital stuff” for the CMO. Said differently, I think they are looking for Marketing Technologists!

This got me thinking about an idea I’ve had for the past year about the need for a new role in the marketing organization: Marketing Technologist.

In researching the concept further, I came across the Chief Marketing Technologist blog by Scott Brinker. Brinker recently published an article in Advertising Age titled, The Case for a Chief Marketing Technologist (September 29, 2010), in which 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.”

I know for my own team we are building things we never did before like: iPhone aps, iPad aps, Android aps, as well as implementing various SaaS applications like and WebTrends, and marketing automation applications like Aprimo but what is odd is that we have never had to talk with the CIO. In fact I get a little worried that the CEO of one of these companies will one day meet our CIO and thank him for our business and he won’t even know who they are!

I also like to think about the traditional path that the CMO has taken into the C Suite is changing. Typically the modern day CMO takes Marketing 101 in college, gets a Masters in Marketing, works for a major brand like P&G as an entry level marketer, becomes a brand manager then rises up to eventually become the CMO. Well today’s marketers are growing up digital – they create aps, they make Facebook pages, they test mobile ads and design augmented reality games – all before lunch!

So while the idea of a Marketing Technologist probably didn’t make sense for many organizations five years ago, it’s hard to imagine that major B2B companies won’t be operating without one in the very near future, as evidenced by the recruiting demand.

16 comments to The Marketing Technologist: Time has Come!

  • Hi, Paul — thanks for the mention of my blog and the AdAge article.

    I’ve been noticing the marked uptick in recruiting for these “marketing technologist” positions as well, even though the titles vary considerably. (Good observation in correlating “chief digital officer” with this.)

    Funny (and slightly poignant) anecdote regarding your interactions (or not) with the CIO. 🙂

  • Its true different firms call this role by different titles but I think we are all converging on the Marketing Technologist!

  • Paul: My experience suggests that you are on the money in terms of the career path of the future marketing leader. The greatest risk I see is that “new” marketers may underestimate the human factor and the basic understanding of the need for customer contact. The best marketers I know, at every level, have great customer insight. Ironically the ever-evolving tools and technology skills should enhance the marketers capacity to better understand customers. Marketing leadership is truly becoming a multi discipline role.

  • @Margaret – thanks for commenting – its a great point that we can get overly excited about the Shinny new object of technology and forget the people side of the equation!

  • @Margaret’s comment

    In my mind, a good marketer is someone who has that key background in communication that enables him to understand the “human factor” anyway. So, when that’s coupled with the technology-savvy technologist, you get someone who has the best of both worlds.

    I would also like to add that with all this technology, it makes marketing more accountable. So, besides the communication and technology know-how, a marketing technologist must also understand the role of data and analytics. In that way, marketing’s efforts are justified, making the CMO that much more important to the business.

  • I agree with Margaret and Ryan. Know your audience was, is, and will be the linchpin in marketing & sales–particularly B2B. And technology is a tool. Yes, we need the skills to use these tools, but more important is having the insight to know what tools to use when, with whom, and to what effect (measurement, analytics). There will always be a new shiny bauble so to focus on the newest one, without having the fundamentals of customer interaction, is dangerous.

  • Hi Paul,

    Good discussion. I wonder about the long-term need for a marketing technologist. In the short term, I think marketing has a lot of catching up to do in terms of technology. Most companies do not yet have closed-loop lead management processes supported by systems, for example. So we need some important systems installed in the short-term. But once the system of record is installed (and many of them are SaaS), do we really need a CIO for marketing? I think the larger and more long-term need is for marketing to become data driven. I’d rather see a chief marketing analytics officer than a chief technologist. Or if this person is going to be a technologist, he or she must have a serious grounding in analytics. B2C companies have these “wonks” today. I think B2B marketing groups need the same emphasis–and that need will never go away once the systems are installed.

  • Thanks Chris – its a good point and perhaps the need is short term for the tech part but the long standing need is true measurement and analytics. I think the big trend for the next few years will be how we make marketing more efficient with the data we can now get from all these great digital outlets!

  • […] for a technology guru within the B2B marketing department. Paul Dunay makes the case for one in this post, and Scott Brinker has been beating the drum for this for some […]

  • Paul,
    A lot of good points in the comments on an interesting post. I think small business marketers are the ones that get pushed in this direction too quickly. We get attracted by the next flashy thing and sometimes lose focus. On the other hand, those that are not paying attention to the technical side of marketing will fall behind quickly.


  • @Patrick – that is such a great point – marketers must continue to experiment a lot to ensure they dont fall behind – easy to say hard in practice especially when budgets are really thin – thanks for commenting Patrick!

  • The key would be teams which are balanced between the technology and the marketing discipline. There may be a growing cadre of people comfortable with both aspects but in most places it seems there are 2 groups speaking two different dialects.

  • @Kamal – that’s a good point – perhaps blending IT and Marketing teams now would make a good start!

  • Anthony Green

    Great post Paul. I think that, over time, technology will become a standard part of marketing, in that without understanding technology and digital, one will not be a marketer at all!

  • hey always, you raise thought provoking spars with the traditional mores of advertising communications…
    it is our philosophical underpinning at grafica that merketing technologists are the architects of designing and creating virtual business models…

  • […] involvement of technologists in the marketing process. Neil Perkins, Forrester, Douglas Karr, and Paul Dunay all discuss different aspects of the impact of technology on marketing and the need for marketers […]

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