The CMO of the Future Is the Marketing CTO

So this is not my graphic, it came from another article you will find here.  That said, I agree mostly with these 8 skills and I would argue the Marketing CTO is much further along than most CMOs.  So having been both a Marketing CTO and a VP of Digital marketing reporting to the CMO let me unfold why I think the CMO of the future is todays Marketing CTO or Chief Marketing Technology Officer.

  1. Thinks like a CTO
  2. Curates content alongside customers
  3. Understands how to leverage AI, machine learning
  4. Master of personalization
  5. Leads innovation and transformation
  6. Embraces Data and Design
  7. Presents a future vision to the board
  8. Steers company strategy

Thinks Like a CTO

I could just gloss over this as it seems like an easy layup for the Marketing CTO but let’s break this one down a bit. So how does a CTO think? 

  • Systems thinking that helps optimize how systems need to work end to end across many domains in the organization driving business process optimization
  • Agile thinking that easily crosses over from product development to marketing delivery
  • Technical architecture that allows you think about how to integrate systems maximizing capabilities and minimizing technical debt
  • User Experience has been a core tenant of software development and is easily migrated to have a customer journey mindset
  • Cyber and privacy concerns are nothing new to the CTO

Curates Content Alongside Customers

Artificial Intelligence is critical to listening to your customers.  Processing comments, reviews and images is made scalable through machine leaning algorithms, sentiment analysis and image analytics.  AI and machine learning are technical skills that software engineers and data science practitioners will understand on a much deeper level than a marketer. 

Understands How to Leverage AI & Machine Learning

I think the key phrase is understands how to leverage.  As I noted in the previous skill I think CTOs will understand the technical complexities of AI and Machine Learning on a much deeper level but I do think it requires both a technical and a business understanding of how to leverage AI across marketing capabilities.  Below is a slide from one of my presentations that shares a high level perspective.  The Marketing CTO is more prepared with this skill.

Marketing and AI

Master of Personalization

Personalization is a complex topic and can apply to multiple aspects of marketing.  I think the future of personalization is to go beyond the next best offer to personalizing across the customer journey.  When you think of managing campaigns you have to understand a campaign is the overlap of three core marketing capabilities

  • Audience Management
  • Content Management
  • Channel Activation

For most marketers they primarily focus has been on optimizing or personalizing the content but the future of personalization will focus on all three of these capabilities in context of the customer journey. In order to truly understand personalization across an omni-channel journey you need to understand how data science, technical system integrations and data governance all play a part.  The CMO may understand the need for personalization but the CTO understands how to make it a reality.

Leads Innovation and Transformation

Marketing Transformation has been at the very core of the Marketing CTO role since it’s inception.  As Marketing began to rapidly change to a more and more data and technology driven profession the need for someone to help drive that transformation was the breeding ground for the MarTech revolution started by Scott Brinker.  The MarTech professional was seen as the blue unicorn that understood both marketing and how it was changing due to technology.  As technical channels and devices multiplied it created a highly fragmented customer experience.  The Marketing CTO has been foundational to the shift from mass marketing to highly targeted, from manual to automated and lastly from single channel to omni-channel. The Marketing CTO role was born to transform.

Embraces Data and Design

I’m going to say this one could go either way (CTO or CMO), but what I will say is that what I think is at the heart of this skill is experimentation.  The heart of this is agile process. Put something in market, measure it and learn.

Presents a Future Vision to the Board

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