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 martech 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.
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 some of the most innovative, creative and collaborative of the bunch went on to run marketing departments, operating divisions and entire companies.
This convergence between marketing and tech has radically redefined the business landscape. Look no further than the CMO and the CTO if you want to know which two leaders are going to have the greatest influence on business in the future.
What does this 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.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran executive recruiters in ecommerce, digital and multichannel marketing, and CRM. With more than 90 published LinkedIn articles, Jerry is the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 28 years. Check out Jerry’s other insights on the Thought Leadership section of the Bernhart Associates website.
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