During a recent visit with a client I was shown the office of the VP of Digital Marketing, whom I expect to place there soon. There was an empty desk, a small meeting table, some chairs, a couple of pictures on the wall. Nothing unusual. But what was significant was the office right next door: The office of the Chief Technical Officer. That’s right, two corporate functions that years ago were akin to estranged family members, are now sitting literally side by side. They could almost switch desks: Many CMO’s I know spend as large a percentage of their budget on IT as CTO’s do.
Those adjoining offices presented the perfect metaphor for the growing partnership between two executives who in past years were often found on different floors. But this is 2018; both face new realities. We all know how the digital revolution has turned the tables on marketing as consumers engage with brands through a dizzying number of channels and platforms, and now call the shots. IT leaders, meanwhile, find themselves concerned about much more than just internal technical infrastructure. Every once in a rare while I even see a resume that has the formal title “Marketing Technology” somewhere on it. It’s definitely not a title I recommend for the org chart but it’s a great keyword, essentially stating, “I know how to access and use the data needed to formulate actionable strategies.” Good stuff.
The convergence of marketing technology is growing. As technology continues to fuel the inner workings of every marketing operation, my digital marketing candidates must have a firm grasp of technology just to even be considered by my clients. To be clear, most of the digital marketers and ecommerce leaders I place are not skilled programmers or engineers. But what they do offer are strong ideation skills around the creative use of technology. Marketers must also be able to handle the sometimes more technical aspects of dealing with external agencies and service providers.
I’m also seeing more candidates with predominately technical backgrounds make the transition into marketing, almost unheard of 20 years ago when those two offices I described above were often, and very literally, in different buildings. Each ruled their own fiefdom. But operating by silo is not a successful strategy in the digital age. As those lines of communication opened up, a funny thing happened: Techies acquired business acumen and sharper communication skills, and some of the most innovative, creative and collaborative of the bunch went on to run marketing departments, operating divisions and entire companies.
The convergence of marketing technology has radically redefined the business landscape. Look no further than the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Technical Officer if you want to know which two leaders are going to have the greatest influence on business in the future.
What does this convergence of marketing technology mean for your career?
Remember my Two Commandments:
“If you’re a marketer, know thy technology”
“If you’re a technologist, know thy marketing”
There’s something you can take to the bank.