Marketing Bootcamp

Disruptive Technologies Highlight the Importance of New Data Roles in Companies

The discipline of marketing may seem a basic and simple one: Figure out the most effective way to build a brand and convert prospects into customers. But any marketer knows it’s far more complicated than that.

Technology’s impact has been immense, adding layers upon layers and seemingly countless software applications and platforms to the mix. In fact, research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that by 2017, a company’s chief marketing officer will likely spend more of an organization's budget on technology than what's spent by its chief information officer.

This evolution can be attributed to technological disruption and the need for specialization in the digital world that has given rise to new executive roles expected to harness and capitalize on the explosion of data.

With the ever-rising number of data-driven technologies in the marketplace, decision makers have now grasped that using data intelligently is no fad. It's fundamental to a thriving business, regardless of size. Marketers should understand the value and distinct functions of new tech-focused executive roles such as the chief data officer and the chief marketing technologist. The position of chief marketing officer isn’t new but it's evolved to encompass data. And the two new roles fill needs and gaps as the CMO role handles traditional marketing and data-driven duties.

Related: A Great Chief Marketing Officer Can Make All the Difference. Here's How to Snag One. 

Because marketing has evolved into one of the most technology-dependent functions in business, the hybridized role of chief marketing technologist has been developed to bridge the skills gap that many companies face. This role -- part strategist, creative director, technologist and teacher -- is now recognized at the highest levels of management as it's squarely at the intersection between traditional marketing and the growing number of software tools used to make sense of companies’ vast amounts of data.

The technologist's mandates are to set a tech vision for promotional activities while aligning marketing technology with goals, serving as a liaison to IT and evaluating and choosing tech providers and platforms. Doing far more than acting as a data guru, the chief marketing technologist must also define strategies and set priorities for leveraging opportunities within the digital economy, as well as survey, assess and put in place emerging technologies crucial for growth.

Related: Marketing, Meet Tech. 4 Tips for Hiring a Data-Obsessed Team.

The role of the chief data officer emerged because chief technology officers typically lacked the technology-powered analytical expertise required to draw out the most profit-maximizing, cost-cutting and value-driven insights from data.

Chief data officers are expected to define the information to be captured to support business activities and determine what’s needed from a data-tools perspective to derive value. They’re also evangelists of a sort, driving cultural change within the company to focus on the use of data for business decisions and strategy.

Also the chief data offier makes the case for investing in data spending and ensures that processes are in place for security and accessibility. Knowledge of data governance and standards, business intelligence, as well as use of information in the cloud, security and privacy are key.

The growing digital and technological demands on the chief marketing officer have led to the rise of the two new roles because the burgeoning duties are too much for one person or office to bear. 

Even if the size of your company doesn’t support all three roles, pay heed to the responsibilities and the challenges involved. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for how to set up these emerging roles.

The best relationship for them depends on your type of business, its size, market or industry, culture and the individuals involved. Understanding the implications of these expanding roles and the challenges they face, regardless of a company’s size, is critical to marketing success in a data-driven world.

Related: 3 Ways to Use Big Data to Drive Repeat Sales