Opinion

Will the CMO role fade with the rise of the chief marketing technologist?

Is the traditional marketing role, or the more senior role of the Chief Marketing Officer, fit to cope with the influx of data and technology into the space? asks Chris Le May, managing director of UK & Nordics at DataXu.

Illustration by www.matttaylor.co.uk
Illustration by www.matttaylor.co.uk
Industry views are divided over whether the influx of data and technology in marketing means the traditional CMO role will become redundant or at least less influential

The era of ‘Big Data’ has definitely arrived and a data-driven way of working is becoming par for the course. Many marketers have now become au fait with leveraging data from all kinds of channels, be it from CRM databases, market research or data from real-time advertising. They now have more power at their fingertips in the form of data and technology solutions than ever before, but with this comes the responsibility of knowing how to activate these new opportunities to shape the marketing and business strategy.

Industry views, however, are divided over whether the influx of data and technology in marketing means the traditional CMO role will become redundant or at least less influential. Certainly, the majority of the marketers we surveyed for our new report, ‘The New Marketer – How Data and Technology are Driving the Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist’, believe that technology’s influence on their jobs will manifest itself in even more profound ways in the not so distant future.

Our survey of 250 UK marketers reveals that 34% spend half their time working with technology, with a further 38% saying their role will depend more on it in the next five years. A telling 70% though say that over the next five years, more companies will be hiring CMTs, and if they aren’t doing this, they will be leaning more heavily on tech-focussed marketers overall. There are a distinct 35% of respondents who even feel the CMT will replace the traditional CMO role.

70% say that over the next five years, more companies will be hiring CMTs, and if they aren’t doing this, they will be leaning more heavily on tech-focussed marketers overall

This is not to say that the traditional creative remit of marketing should take a back seat to data – in fact 51% of the marketers we questioned believe there is a place for both CMOs and CMTs in companies and that they should be jointly responsible for marketing technologies. Data-driven marketing enables those in creative roles to do their best work by allowing them to focus on the bigger picture thinking and creative elements that will make their campaigns stand out. The sum of both left-brained and right-brained talent collaborating together effectively will be greater than their parts.

While the CMT role may not be the perfect solution for every business right now, our research indicates that it will certainly become a pre-eminent one in the next five years, thanks to the unprecedented demand for a new data-savvy marketer. This is a conundrum that technology alone can’t solve, but rather, needs a mix of tools and talent to shape the future of marketing. The ability to accurately translate data into insight and action requires input from individuals with a unique blend of industry expertise and analytic prowess – is this where the CMT will find their sweet spot, and earn their place in the leadership team?