CIO to the CMO – "Get Smart Fast!"

by George Hollister on June 1, 2010

George Hollister

George Hollister

Like moths to a flame, CMOs are being ever increasingly drawn into the previously foreign world of technology, as the marketing tools get more powerful and sales presentations more compelling.  Marketing leaders need to become more educated in the technology selection process to avoid rampant project failures.

In a recent Forrester Research report, “The CMO’s Role in Technology Decisions,” David Cooperstein and Lisa Bradner state:

“As technology becomes more intertwined with marketing efforts, marketing leaders must decide what their role should be in technology purchase decisions.”

In the Web 2.0 world of  increased emphasis on utilizing digital channels for delivery of marketing messages, CMOs must understand the capabilities and limitations of each of these channels in order to draw results from their multi-channel campaigns.  As the report states:

“…digital is no longer an afterthought or nice-to-have – it’s a core part of the marketers’ tool kit.”

And in this recessionary environment,  compounded by the complexity of multi-channel campaigns, technology is critical to maintaining marketing campaign frequency and performance with reduced staffs, but unchanging revenue expectations!

This new world order also means that each communication channel is driven by distinct technologies.   Whether delivering targeted messages to customers on a web site, or directing inbound calls based on segments appended to customer records, the new marketing technologies directly impact the ability to monetize customer interactions.  Decisions about technology purchases require increased marketing involvement in the selection process.  CMOs need to get smart about these technologies… fast.

The Forrester research suggests that there are three distinct roles that marketing leaders may play in technology decisions:  tech advocate, tech arbitrator, and tech activator.

  • Tech Advocate:  Evangelize the Importance of Technology to Marketing
  • Tech Arbitrator:   Negotiate for Technology Change on Behalf of the Customer
  • Tech Activator:   Drive the Tech Future of the Organization

Avi Dan, in his blog post titled, “Why Brands Should Embrace Technological Change,”  says that “…CMOs should act as innovation evangelists, pushing technology into all facets of company operations.”  He also believes that “To navigate through the added complexity of the technological eruption, they have to go beyond just tolerating it to become active participants and advocates of the new marketing ecosystem.”

Call it “the new marketing ecosystem,” “Marketing 2.0,” or “Marketing’s New World Order.”  Whatever terms used, it’s clear that CMOs need to play an increased role in the technology future of their companies and continue to evolve their tech literacy rapidly to keep up with the continually evolving technology of our current marketing environment.


Why Brands Should Embrace Technological Change (Avi Dan)

The CMO’s Role in Technology Decisions:  Forrester Research


About the Author:

George Hollister joined SIGMA Marketing Group in 2010 as one of their B2B Practice Leaders. Connect with George on or follow him on .

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

trish bertuzzi June 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm

While I agree whole heartedly with your well written post, it makes me feel bad for CMOs. Now it appears we are adding a new full time job to their plates. You can’t swing a cat without finding a technology vendor either building, marketing or selling a product that isn’t targeted at this audience. How are they supposed to find the time, energy and expertise to sort through the noise, identify the real priorities of their organization and then conduct vendor evaluation and selection?

I am just saying…their job just got a whole lot harder!

George Hollister June 29, 2010 at 8:38 am

It’s certainly become more complex, Trish, thanks for the post!

More frequently than ever, CMO’s have a seat at the table with their company’s senior leadership and therefore need to keep their pulse on the organization’s priorities. In my view, they also need to ensure that their teams are heavily involved in, if not driving, any decisions involving customer facing technologies to ensure that they have the infrastructure they need to succeed.

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