Recently I came across some data that illustrates a trend for marketers – the convergence of technology and marketing. Gartner found that 72% of companies have the equivalent of a Chief Marketing Technologist and 87% will within the next two years. Granted, this is among tech companies who are more inclined to invest in tech, but the trend is clear. You may recall that Gartner predicted that by 2017 CMOs would spend more on IT than CIO’s
This is all being driven by a media landscape that puts power into the hands of consumers and away from companies. Today’s consumers and marketers share the essence of a brand, particularly when it comes to online conversations.
There is an endless need for technology solutions for websites, content development, social media, virtual shows, marketing automation, ecommerce, CRM, customer experience, lead generation, lead nurturing, and a myriad of advertising tools. Major advances in tech have put much of this power into the hands of everyday users. More companies are managing all of this internally or with specialized agencies. This has major implications for training, hiring and career management.
The very nature of what it means to be a marketer has changed dramatically over the past 10-15 years. If you are not adept at technology you will be left behind, it is as simple as that. When I started out you could be successful as a marketing generalist who understand promotions, ads and PR. A specialist was considered someone who worked in marketing research or events. To be relevant today you must have a deep understanding of social platforms, mobile marketing, search, web user experience, content marketing and how they all tie together to support your strategy. And, everything needs to be aimed at your customers and prospects to impact the bottom line. A marketer who does not think about driving sales will not be a marketer for very long.
Young people entering the workforce with many of these technical skills will accelerate this evolution. They may not have the strategic understanding yet, but that will come with experience. This could be intimidating for those in mid career, but the choice is clear. Current and future employers will be checking out your digital footprint and how influential you appear. What comes up when you are Googled? Do you have a blog? How many Twitter followers, and how many LinkedIn connections/groups? Do you comment on other sites? If you have a low profile, it will project an image of not understanding or embracing the technology – fair or not, it is the perception.
The advent of technology has radically altered the job of a marketer and made it much more challenging and complex. Some may view that negatively, but I think the opposite is true. Having all this technology in our hands has made marketers more valuable to their companies than ever before. It is hard to imagine a company succeeding in the future that does not have a tech savvy CMO at the right hand of the CEO.