Marketing Technology is expanding at an explosive rate, with more solutions available on an almost daily basis. I see press releases and announcements for new apps, marketing suites, tools, tracking systems, ad networks, and more distributed on a weekly basis. Keeping track of all this is hard for the traditional marketer. It’s even hard for the people who are paid to pay attention to this transformation in the marketing industry.

If you need some evidence of this disruption, just looking at the 2014 Marketing Technology Landscape that Scott Brinker from the Chief Marketing Technologist blog produces should be proof enough that marketing technology is a minefield and requires a strategy to navigate.

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The image above shows marketing technology from his January 2014 review. It features 947 companies across 43 categories. And while that is compelling it doesn’t tell the whole story. Take a look at the Marketing Technology Landscape from August of 2011.

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Just over 100 companies are featured. In just short of two and a half years there has been almost a 1000% increase in marketing technology available to the modern marketing departments.

Enter the Marketing Technologist

Marketing has changed and with it comes new roles and responsibilities. One of the hottest new roles in corporate marketing departments is the Marketing Technologist, or the marketing employee who also understands the technology and how it works. For years marketing departments have often had a guy or girl who understood the technology. They were invited to the meetings by their boss to help decipher the technology speak or to vet the sales pitches by those 100-947 software companies. As time has progressed, this work has become more formal and actual positions are being created focusing on the intersection of Marketing and IT

Gartner predicted that by 2017 CMO’s will spend more on IT than CIO’s. Even if that doesn’t exactly come true, the fact is that marketing departments are spending more and more money on technology and there comes a point that someone on the marketing team needs to not only be knowledgeable in the technology but be responsible for it as well. It is easy to buy and implement many of these solutions, but if no one on the marketing team owns the technology it will often sit under utilized or will turn into another data silo, with vital information not connected to other key systems.

IT has done a great job managing the enterprise tools, but at the end of the day there needs to be someone who understands how they work and someone who can use them at expert levels so that marketing can truly see an ROI on their expenditures. All these tools are powerful and can produce great results used properly, but they also generate a lot of data that often lives only in a particular point solution.

Marketing is becoming a data generating monster and while it makes the potential opportunities to use that data exciting, it also adds an additional burden to both CMOs and CIOs to manage and use that data efficiently. Systems need to be integrated, API’s need to be used and someone in marketing needs to know what API even means. But more importantly, they need to understand what the data is and how to use it.

Supply vs Demand

Marketing Technologists are in short supply. It takes a special kind of person who can understand the intersection of marketing and technology, translate that into business requirements, align it with company objectives, and manage all these solutions. As marketing departments move down this path, more and more they realize they need this type of help. The trick is finding someone to fulfill this role.
Marketing departments have a choice when trying to fill this role, they can find or develop an employee or work with a partner who can be the trusted advisor for this role. Both situations have their pros and cons, and it depends on what the specific needs of the business are. In the end, what is evident is that this role is not going away anytime soon, and if Gartner is correct and the CMO does rule the IT budget the Marketing Technologist or Marketing Technology partner will be vital to the success of the modern marketing department.

 

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Zack Wenthe (@zwenthe) is a Marketing Strategist for RBA focused on helping marketing departments operate smarter and more efficiently.

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