Do You Have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

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By Sue BradyThe C Suite

In the last year or so, I’ve been hearing more about a new title that’s hitting the C-suite: Chief Marketing Technologist. I actually came across an old article from 2010 where Scott Brinker talked about this hybrid role. And that got me to thinking about why this role is being talked about so much now, and what type of job it entails. I was shocked to read that in 2013, 81% of large companies had this position! No wonder it’s being talked about. It’s a widespread role among big companies!

The bottom line is, marketing technology has gotten more sophisticated and increasingly critical over time. Someone needs to be dedicated to evaluating the field of products and choosing the right solution for Marketing, and then continuing to make recommendations for updates or changes as their business evolves.

Here’s just some of the marketing technologies that many companies consider to be a necessity:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems automate your sales lead management and track your sales by scheduling and sending out emails, prompting the sales team when it’s time to make a call, tracking customer revenue and more. They are generally focused on lead management from a sales perspective. This type of system generally sits with Sales, and salesforce.com is a example.
  • Marketing Automation Systems focus on lead management. They can be used to manage marketing campaigns, aid in landing page development, testing automation, tracking online visitors. To be fair, there is some overlap with CRM systems, because marketing automation systems also manage leads. And in fact, some consider Marketing Automation tools to be a segment of CRM. Automation systems have more sophisticated lead nurturing capabilities, from modeling to lead scoring and are focused on Marketing. Marketo and Silverpop fall into this space.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) organize and automate your content. A CMS can drive which website visitors see what content. It can help your content producers organize and reuse existing content on your website, blogs, landing pages and ads. Examples are HubSpot and WordPress.

So what exactly does the Chief Marketing Technologist do? Scott Brinker outlined three main areas back in that article from 2010 and I’d guess they haven’t really changed:

  1. The CMT helps the CMO translate strategy into technology and technology into strategy. It’s sort of the high level version of the project manager who translates marketing needs into technical requirements.
  2. The CMT ties together the marketing, technology and data to find the commonalities between them. That means the CMT can start making use of all that ‘big data’ that everyone is talking about.
  3. The CMT helps technology permeate the marketing department and make the department run smoother, more efficiently, and more productively.

Sounds like a critical role every business should consider. Do you have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

To Build or to Buy. That is the Hot IT Question.

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By Sue Brady

Build or Buy?When does it make sense to use corporate IT resources to build a system/software/technology vs buying one off-the-shelf? Many companies struggle with this question.  The answer is of course, it depends. There are many business tools that are readily available today: content management systems, CRM systems, accounting tools and the like. If you have an IT department that has coders, developers, and other technical functions, you may be able to create these tools yourself. But the question is, should you?

There are good reasons to build tools yourself, such as: hammer

  • There is no off-the-shelf product that satisfies your needs
  • A client has asked for a product that they can own
  • It will be cheaper to build it
  • The off-the-shelf products won’t be able to keep pace with your level of growth

And equally important, there are bad reasons to build it yourself: no hammer

  • You have a big IT team and need to keep them busy
  • You don’t trust any of the off-the-shelf products
  • You need something a little different from the off-the-shelf choices
  • You can charge the client for a totally custom product
  • It will be cheaper to build it

There are pros and cons to both options. Buying a product typically means the implementation will be faster and the timelines to do so will be more predictable. Risk is lower because the product has been tested and is more standardized. There might even be a certain level of product support for you to take advantage of. But, you also have to stay one step ahead of product enhancements to know that whatever product you’ve chosen can grow with your changing needs. And you need to make sure you understand the product lifecycle so that when you consider costs, you know down the road what you’ll need in the budget for support/changes/enhancements.

Building gives you a certain amount of control but means that you have to manage costs carefully, avoid things like scope creep and continually set timing expectations. Plus you’ll also need to anticipate and handle new product feature releases that your business might need. Make sure you also set expectations around timing. Marketing folks are impatient, so if building is going to take three times as long as buying, you may get pushback. Be sure you have the budget to support the build.

Some companies like to use a hybrid approach where an off-the-shelf product is used, but modified to meet the business’ needs. This can work, but if a large amount of modifications are needed, you probably won’t be saving money or time in the long run.

I came across this rule-of-thumb advice in a variety of places: When you are looking to automate a business process that can be viewed as a commodity, you should buy. When you’re talking about a core competency/differentiator for your company, you should build. Tweet this.

Do your homework, run a cost/benefit analysis, and be realistic with the stake-holders with whichever option you choose.