The role of the CMO has been evolving at a rapid pace in recent years due to the constant addition of new marketing technologies or martech. You only have to compare the tech budgets of marketing departments today to those five years ago to see a drastic increase in spending.
Companies know that they need to embrace and leverage the right martech to remain competitive, and they are willing to invest substantial sums to do so. That leaves companies and key decision makers with a challenging question: What kind of role should the CMO play in tech decisions? The answer depends on the industry vertical, but there is an overall trend that is worth paying attention to. With each passing year, CMOs are becoming more and more involved in tech decisions.
To understand the answer to this question, we need to look at a few different factors. These include:
The Changing Role of CMOs
The traditional CMO role was already filled with important decisions. Chief Marketing Officers have always been responsible for things like brand management, communications, campaigns and advertising. But today, with the rise of data-driven decisions—which offer more predictability and accuracy than opinions ever could—the role of the CMO has had to evolve to encompass more and more tech.
Consider the options for understanding the customer experience available to marketing teams today:
Incorporating these tools into the company’s marketing mission requires a whole new skillset that includes customer service, data analysis, user experience (UX) and more. Of course, not all CMOs need to be experts in any one of these particular areas, but they do need to know how to manage and organize professionals who do understand these areas to fully realize the potential of their marketing efforts.
The Importance of Company Objectives
If you have recently found yourself feeling overwhelmed with the number of tech tools available, you have some idea of what it feels like to be a CMO in today’s tech-heavy environment. A visit to your favorite app store will give you the opportunity to pick from sometimes thousands of apps to accomplish the same goal, whatever that goal may be. And while the martech options available to CMOs are perhaps less numerous, they are also being pushed by sales people on a daily basis—so CMOs are being constantly bombarded with new “solutions” that are touted as the newest answer to common problems. Even more confusing, there are plenty of martech offerings that are more like solutions looking for problems than the other way around.
One of the key ways that CMOs can avoid overwhelm when it comes to martech is to always keep company objectives at the forefront of their minds. The company objectives can vary by organization, but most marketing organizations are focused on things like Market Presence, Revenue Growth and Efficiency. These goals can be more easily achieved using the right martech, but not all tech tools are going to offer significant benefit in the seeking of such goals.
Company objectives offer a guiding light in the complex world of martech. CMOs, above all others in the marketing organization, need to remain aware of company objectives and ensure that the tech budget is utilized as efficiently as possible—on technologies that will achieve measurable progress towards the achievement of the goals of the company.
CMOs Can Use Data to Drive Tech Decisions—Especially if They Ask Questions
One of the best ways CMOs can target the tech that is right for their organization is to utilize data in the decision making process. And that does not mean the CMO needs to be an expert in data analysis, either. They just need a team that can help them understand the data that they are looking at. Subjective decisions are not necessary—at least not in most cases—with the use of the right data.
The secret to utilizing data is to ask questions, as many questions as necessary to gain an understanding of what you are looking at. Over time, a CMO can come to understand quite complex concepts as he or she repeatedly comes into contact with them. But as with any new information, the fastest way to gain an understanding is to ask questions. It can be difficult at first for someone in a position of authority to admit that they do not know something right off the bat, but eventually asking questions becomes easy.
While it may not be apparent initially, employees will feel respect for the leader that is willing to admit a lack of understanding and ask for help. After all, the employee gains a sense of value when they can help higher-ups and the company as a whole with their knowledge.
Ultimately, CMOs should strive to be an integral part of tech decisions in the company. They should work with their team, as well as with other key decision makers like the CIO and CTO, to guide the company in the right direction.