Will the Chief Marketing Technologist Intensify the Power Struggle Between CIO and CMO?

Back in its July – August 2014 issue, in an article titled, ‘The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist’, Harvard Business Review (HBR) prophesied the emergence of a new type of executive - Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT). This was, in part, inspired by Gartner’s prediction that by 2017 CMOs will be spending more on technology than the CIO. Back then, even as the CIO vs. CMO clout debate was on and at its peak, not many would have guessed of a future where the two shall converge.


However, three years down the line, this prophecy sounds more credible than ever before as digital transformation re-defines the whole structural matrix within organizations. According to a study by research and advisory firm, Altimeter, digital transformation is largely being led by the CMO with the CIO/CTO coming in a distant third. In the traditional scheme of things this need would have been met by the CIO/CTO, but not anymore as customer experience becomes the number one driver for digital transformation.


As marketing takes over the digital playing field from the CIO, the intersection of marketing and technology is imminent. The line between the CMO and CIO has been blurring for the last couple of years, and the Chief Marketing Technologist is, perhaps, the culmination of that.


So, who is this Chief Marketing Technologist?


I have liberally picked up some quotes from HBR to give you a holistic view of who this person is, what qualities and qualifications he/she is expected to bring on board, and what he/she is expected to deliver.


“He or she is the equivalent of a business unit–level CIO or CTO.”


“CMTs are part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher.”


“People in this role need technical depth—many have backgrounds in IT management or software development—but they must also be passionate about marketing. A common profile is an executive with an undergraduate degree in computer science and a graduate degree in business. Many CMTs have experience in digital agencies or with building customer-facing web products.”


“Acting as the connective tissue between different constituencies, these executives engage with four key stakeholders: the CMO and other senior marketing executives, the CIO and the IT organization, the broader marketing team, and outside software and service providers.”


Having explained the Chief Marketing Technologist, there are a few moot questions that need to be answered.


-       Does the CMT bridge the gap and cement the relationship between the CIO and CMO, or does it actually undermine the role of the CIO?

-       Should the CMT be picked from the CIO team or the CMO team or should he/she be an outsider?

-       Who should the CMT report to – CIO or CMO or should it be an independent function?


As organizations struggle to find the answers to these questions, one thing is very clear - the emergence of the CMT is likely to further intensify the ongoing power struggle between the CIO and CMO.

(Image Courtesy: Pixabay.com)

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