Harvard Business Review publishes The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist

Harvard Business Review: The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist

When I first started writing about the role of a chief marketing technologist in 2008, it was, at best, a niche subject. A hybrid marketing and technology executive? What kind of crazy, chimerical beast was that?

But six years later, with marketing increasingly viewed as a technology-powered discipline, hybrid marketing technologist roles are growing rapidly. Reviewing registrations for the upcoming MarTech Conference, it’s incredible to see so many leading companies with official heads of marketing technology now.

HBR July 2014 Cover

This week, these roles are also being recognized at the highest levels of management and business leadership. The July-August issue of Harvard Business Review was just released with spotlight focus is on “the new marketing organization.” And I’m delighted and honored that one of their spotlight’s featured articles is The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist, co-authored by Laura McLellan and myself.

It describes the basic framework of the role and the forces that are motivating the establishment of these positions, and it also provides short vignettes of five real-world marketing technologists.

The article begins:

Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology dependent functions in business. In 2012 the research and consulting firm Gartner predicted that by 2017, a company’s chief marketing officer would be spending more on technology than its chief information officer was. That oft-quoted claim seems more credible every day.

A new type of executive is emerging at the center of the transformation: the chief marketing technologist. CMTs are part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher. Although they have an array of titles — Kimberly-Clark as a “global head of marketing technology,” while SAP has a “business information officer for global marketing,” for example — they have a common job: aligning marketing technology with business goals, serving as a liaison to IT, and evaluating and choosing technology providers. About half are charged with helping craft new business models as well.

Regardless of what they’re called, the best CMTs set a technology vision for marketing. They champion greater experimentation and more-agile management of that function’s capabilities. And they are change agents, working within the function and across the company to create competitive advantage.

The Nexus of the Chief Marketing Technologist

The five marketing technologists who are featured in the article are:

It’s wonderful to see these pioneers in the field receive some recognition in such a premier publication for the work they’re doing. Laura and I both really appreciate them agreeing to be included in the article.

By the way, on the topic of chief marketing technologists, here’s one more reason to come to MarTech: my co-author of this piece, Laura McLellan, will be presenting her groundbreaking research at Gartner in a talk Chief Marketing Technologists Symbolize Marketing’s Changing Role.

As she describes it: “The best chief marketing technologists accelerate the shift from traditional governance, sourcing, and risk management to agile processes, a results mindset, and a culture of innovation. This presentation distills the most critical trends and ramifications.”

If you’re a marketing technologist — or you work with them in your role as a marketing leader — you won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from some of the stars in our field and network with several hundred of your peers. Register now!

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8 thoughts on “Harvard Business Review publishes The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist”

  1. strategyaudit

    Hi Scott,
    Great that HBR have found the wagon!.
    I would love to come to Martech, I spent a wonderful year in Boston (1974, so long ago) as a very young marketer finding my feet, but it is such a long way from Sydney!!

  2. Great to see more analysis around the rise in importance of all tools digital. The idea of a ‘chief marketing technologist’ begs the question– how is this role different from/similar to a Chief Digital Officer?

    1. There’s certainly the potential for overlap, depending on how you define the roles (and there are a lot of variations in the definition). To me, a CDO is more of a business officer — defining how the company is pursuing digital business overall — while the CMT is a little more technical, more like a CTO for marketing.

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