- Many B2B marketing organizations lack a cohesive technology adoption strategy, contributing to redundant systems and duplication of data
- A chief marketing technologist has seven primary responsibilities, ranging from technology selection and implementation to budgeting and strategy
- Before creating and hiring for the role of a chief marketing technologist, clearly define the role and its responsibilities
What is a chief marketing technologist (or chief marketing technology officer) and does your organization need one? For the purposes of this post, let’s assume that you now have a chief marketing technologist. This person may or may not have that title (most do not). He or she may reside in either your marketing operations function or demand center, but is the CMO’s right hand on managing technology. So, what are the responsibilities of this role? This blog post introduces seven primary responsibilities that should be owned by or shared with the chief technologist.
Technology selection. Today’s marketers have never had more choices available to them both from a category standpoint (i.e. what technology is out there) and a vendor standpoint (i.e. which solution best fits my needs.) A chief technologist needs to be aware of the technology available and must have a firm grasp on marketing and business needs in order to select the right technologies. The role is a steward for technology and data standardization, and fosters effective vendor relationships. The decision of what technology or vendor to select is not the sole responsibility of the chief technologist, but he or she is a subject matter expert and his or her opinions carry a lot of weight.
- Technology implementation. After the organization selects a vendor, it needs to create a project plan needs and allocate resources (i.e. budget and people) prior to implementation. A project manager typically runs the implementation – ensuring deliverables are met on time – and executed by the project team. The chief technologist may or may not be actively managing individual projects (depending on the size of the organization and project resources). In larger organizations, this role most likely works closely with marketing operations or a PMO. Regardless of resources, the chief technologist is responsible – fully or in part – for the prioritization and orchestration of these projects, and is ultimately accountable for their outcomes.
- Handoff and ongoing support.The chief technologist generally is not responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of platforms (e.g. changing form fields in the marketing automation database). However, the role’s direct reports might be, and the chief technologist is responsible and accountable for ensuring a smooth post-implementation handoff to the department or organization that will own it. Additionally, he or she must ensure there is adequate training for administrators and a proper amount of vendor support during the ramp-up period and on an ongoing basis. The chief technologist also acts as an escalation point of contact should an issue arise in which the vendor is not meeting the agreed-upon terms.
- Auditing. This role helps determine the frequency and scope of technology audits and works with a cross-functional steering committee to scope these audits. The chief technologist should be a member of the steering committee and, from a marketing standpoint, is responsible for the audit. Additionally, this role is responsible for reviewing the outputs of the audit and gap analysis, selecting and prioritizing the best solutions, and proposing them to the steering committee (if solutions directly affect sales or product as well).
- Budget.Technology isn’t free (yes, even freemium models take resources to administer and use) and managing the budget allocated for technology is a primary responsibility of the chief technologist. In conjunction with the CMO, and with input from across the marketing organization, the chief technologist proposes budgets that account for current and future technology investments. Through the audit and vendor selection and implementation process, the chief technologist also uncovers areas to reduce cost and drive efficiency within the technology stack.
- Relationship building. Let’s not forget that, to create and manage a technology stack, you need to interact with a lot of people from different parts of the marketing organization as well as their counterparts in sales, product and IT. The chief technologist is a technology liaison between the CMO and leaders within marketing and the rest of the business, so he or she can act as advocates for chosen technologies and communicate how marketing and the business strategy are being translated into technology.
- Roadmapping and rationalization.Translating marketing’s vision and strategy into an infrastructure is a main responsibility of the chief technologist. Roadmapping takes marketing’s vision and develops a future state of how the technology infrastructure will support and drive the business toward its goals. Once created, the roadmap informs the selection and implementation of technologies. Roadmapping also includes the rationalization of the technology portfolio and involves an understanding of a technology’s (or a vendor’s) lifecycle, when investment should increase and when it should be sunsetted.