Forrester recommends a Marketing Technology Office

“Marketing must control its own technological destiny.”

Not too long ago, that was a radical proposition. (In some IT quarters, it might still be.)

But today, the esteemed enterprise analysts at Forrester released two new reports that take that proposition mainstream: Investing In Marketing’s Technology Future and Three Approaches To The Marketing Technology Office. $499 each, but worth it for executive-level discussions.

To give you a flavor of the first report, and why it has me dancing in my chair, consider these first few subheads in the document:

  • Customer obsession requires that marketing up its technology quotient.
  • Marketing loses potency by denying its technology dependency.
  • How marketing can transform technology from overhead to differentiator.

Yes! Yes! And yes!!

There’s another subhead later — turning technology into a touchstone for creativity — that I love almost as much.

Forrester’s recommendation is to establish a marketing technology office that reports to the CMO (or the VP of customer intelligence, if such a role exists in your organization, who then reports to the CMO). There’s dotted line accountability to the CIO too — this is not shadow IT, it’s shining in the light of day.

Their proposed org structure looks like this:

The Marketing Technology Office

An excerpt of their raison d’être for this new structure:

“For marketing to build a technology strategy, implement and develop those technologies, and better integrate and act on the customer data it captures, marketing resources must be organized within a central framework that can act at the speed that marketing requires. We call this framework the marketing technology office (MTO), defined as: A center of excellence that leads technology strategy, develops marketing technologies, and evangelizes innovative uses throughout the marketing department.

Well said!

My only beef with the report is that it suggests the person running the marketing technology office should have the title of “chief marketing technology strategist.” That’s a mouthful — just feels like one word too many. How about “chief marketing technologist” instead? ;-)

Comments

  1. Scott – I wholeheartedly agree that that this is the direction organizations need to take. The question is how to get them movning in this direction.

  2. Very interesting, but I question whether another branch in an org chart can really be an evolution. I feel like the ultimate evolution of marketing would be to have it de-compartmentalized. Make the product the marketing. Perfectly align those that sell and those sell the product. Would you agree? If so, how would you reconcile this with the need for a marketing technology ‘office’?

  3. Great question, Haris.
    I think the need for marketing technologists and integrated technology leadership in the “marketing” function is clear. *How* to organize that — and your broader question, of how to organize marketing overall — is a much bigger (and important) issue.
    I’ve come to believe that organizational structure is one of the key incarnations of a company’s strategy. Many different strategies (and, accordingly, organizational structures) are possible, but depending on your product/service, your market/audience, and the other strengths/weaknesses of your company will determine what structure is best.
    I agree that for a lot of more integrated marketing organizations, thinking of the marketing technology piece as an “office” may not be the best way to frame it.

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