The Chief Marketing Technologist: Luxury Or Necessity?


By Stephanie Overby, Contributing Writer

Three years ago, Gartner made headlines projecting that the CMO would outspend the CIO on technology by 2017. So far there has been little reason to doubt that bold prediction will come to pass.

More recently, CEOs have said that digital marketing will be their biggest technology-enabled business investment over the next five years, according to a 2014 Gartner survey, and marketing IT budgets continue to climb even as other marketing spending stays flat.

“Marketing as an enterprise function has been taking a leading role in the implementation of new technologies that help customers connect with businesses,” said Adam Howatson, CMO of enterprise information management provider OpenText, in an interview with “I think it is safe to say that CMOs who ignore technology won’t be CMOs for much longer. Marketing technology will be a defining factor in how an enterprise communicates with its customers.”

Forrester Research has for some time been advocating the establishment of a marketing technology office to help bridge the gap between marketing and technology management. And the value of having a marketing-specific CIO or CTO to manage the complex and growing web of digital marketing technology seems clear. Just take a look at the network of marketing tools from thousands of vendors Gartner laid out in it “Digital Marketing Transit Map” back in 2013 or Scott Brinker’s more recent “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.”

“Almost everyone is in catch-up mode since the landscape is changing so quickly,” said Christine Cutten, principal with Deloitte Consulting and a leader within its customer transformation practice. Marketing will have to master emerging technologies to enable new strategies, she told

Yet few marketing organizations outside of the high-tech industries have appointed a chief marketing technologist to oversee this dynamic environment of technology strategy and operations. Deloitte’s Cutten, for example, said she has seen just a handful of such roles, and only when the CMO is attempting to make bold changes. “Having a chief technologist solely as part of a marketing function is a luxury few organizations can currently justify,” OpenText’s Howatson agreed.

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