Forget CMO vs CMT: Get Agile With IT, Then DecideTitles

Only the advertising, and specifically the digital advertising industry, could witness the rising importance of technology in the industry and then ask the really key question: what will this do for job titles? Will Chief Marketing Technologists gain traction?

Whether it's PR and communications' endless ways of adding initials and positions to split up an account so everyone has a different title or digital marketing's embracing of titles and company descriptions that don't give you a clue what either the business or the person does, we seem somehow transfixed by roles and titles. Journalism is no different. When I was at The Sunday Times it was a constant joke among the people who actually wrote the stories what all the Executive and Deputy Editors, always with something in brackets afterwards, actually did.

So today's research in Marketing Week, carried out by DataXu, is interesting in that it shows how marketers at top agencies and brands realise technology is only going to become more important. Seventy per cent believe more Chief Marketing Technologists will be hired and half believe organisations should have both a CMO and CMT. As for how much time marketers spend on technology-focussed actions, it's a mixed picture with roughly the proportion of people spending nearly all their time on technology equalling those who spend none. In the middle we've got the majority who spend roughly a quarter or so of their time on tech-related issues.

This, of course, completely tallies with the rise of the marketing operation's function or, if companies haven't given it a name, those units within marketing that overlap with IT and will typically have members from that function on board. To me, this is the great step forwards. It doesn't really matter whether someone at the head of this is called the CMT or the King of Botswana but if marketing and IT can work together on what the former needs and what the latter can currently deliver, with a view of what's around the corner too, then two things happen. 

First of all, you get an exchange of ideas between two departments rather than a wish list sent from marketing to IT with a hope it can be delivered on time. That means you can shape expectations around what is needed and what is possible. Secondly, you get an agile team that has always been on the project and is able to ensure it keeps track with market developments. That avoids the pitfalls of goal posts being suddenly shifted, corrections taking too long to fix and projects being delivered perfectly, only to find the functions are no longer needed.

Hearing brands speak about creating new ways of interacting with customers and interpreting the data that arises, this need for marketing and IT to move closer is now widely accepted as a fundamental requirement to give projects much-needed agility.

So, I know some people like to get hung up on titles and that can be a good thing. If there's a person in charge of data, call him or her at Chief Data Officer, then at least there is an identifiable person in charge of data and likely compliance and privacy too. That makes perfect sense.

However, rather than get hung up on the title for the marketer who improves his or her knowledge of technology and openly forges those teams that include IT members, maybe the most important thing at the beginning is to get the process started. And who's to say that person has to come from marketing. There may well be a highly talented IT executive who majored in marketing at college, you just never know.

What you do know is that data-driven digital marketing is increasingly about technology -- how could it not be -- so get IT and marketing around the same table, deliver some interesting project and then figure out what you're going to call one another.

(You can read the original report from DataXu here.)

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