The role of the CMO has changed dramatically in recent years, and the push for more integration of marketing and technology shows no signs of stopping. With 2020 just around the corner, it is worthwhile to look more closely at how CMOs are doing their jobs today—and what the future holds for those serving as chief marketing officers.
The lines between marketing and IT continue to blur, which means CMOs and CIOs are going to be getting closer and closer as time goes on. By integrating areas of expertise when necessary, CMOs and CIOs can both benefit from the changes that are coming in the future. Each will still need to be the best at what they do, but CMOs can certainly learn from their interactions with CIOs and vice versa.
It was not that long ago that CMOs focused exclusively on marketing. They were tasked with developing advertising campaigns, connecting with customers and establishing brands. The evidence of their effectiveness in these areas is all around—just look at the many brands that are household names. But in the past decade, information technology has moved along at a rapid clip and become incorporated in the public landscape in ways that no one would have predicted 30 years ago. Big data, AI, social media—the world has changed significantly, and the role of the CMO has had to change along with it.
Today, CMOs are as involved in technology as they are in marketing. They really do not have a choice in the matter. The way that companies interact with their customers is dictated by a variety of ubiquitous technology platforms that seem to be here to stay. And even if the big players today fail to hold their top positions, it is almost certain that others will move in to fill in the gaps. The end result is that technology is just a part of life for most people—and those people are the customers that CMOs need to reach. Doing so will likely always require a deft touch with technology from now on.
Just a few decades ago, the main interactions between CMOs and CIOs centered on very specific needs. Fixing computers, installing software, handling antivirus programs—when the marketing team had tech issues with their hardware or software, they got help from the IT department. It was unlikely that the CMO and CIO would hang out and talk about marketing technology strategy because the marketing technologies that were available were few and far between.
Now, though, CMOs need the help of CIOs for a large portion of their work. CMOs need to leverage tech to reach customers and establish branding, and CIOs are still the leaders in the technology sphere for businesses. While CMOs can gain some substantial proficiency with marketing technology or martech, they are unlikely to be as technologically proficient as CIOs. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, CMOs look to CIOs to help them take full advantage of the technology tools at their disposal.
The developing of a close working relationship between CMOs and CIOs is going to be a major pillar of the business world in 2020 and beyond. While each executive will have their own sphere of responsibilities and expectations, those spheres will overlap in significant ways. Both need the business to succeed, and both need each other to make that happen.
CMOs in the coming years are going to be tasked with performing the responsibilities of a marketing leader while also leveraging whatever technologies are available to achieve optimal results. If that sounds like a lot to take on for one person, that’s because it is. This is why CMOs are not going to be going it alone like they may have once done. They are going to require the assistance of skilled professionals who know how to provide the support necessary to achieve company objectives.
In practice, the role the CMO will play will be one founded in collaboration. The CMO will have company objectives to achieve and marketing objectives that will dictate the actions of the department. Making progress towards those objectives will require using various technologies to gather data, analyze data, communicate with customers, and predict future trends and more. Choosing which tech to use and how to use it to achieve business objectives is where the insight of CIOs will prove pivotal, which is why CMOs will be cooperating with CIOs regularly.
One of the most exciting developments for both CMOs and CIOs will be the development of cross-department expertise on both sides of the relationship. CMOs will know more about how CIOs think and what they need, while CIOs will gain a clearer understanding of how to help CMOs achieve marketing objectives. Eventually, each will be able to offer suggestions and insights that might never have developed without working together regularly. CMOs and CIOs are likely to become greater than the sum of each position, which could bring about even more substantial changes in how businesses operate and interact with consumers.