Analyzing the Chief Marketing Technologists

It’s yesterday’s news that marketing and technology have become inextricably intertwined. Tectonic forces, enabled by technology, have fueled more disruption and competition for customer attention in the last five years than corporations experienced in the fifty years prior.

On the one hand, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have realized that marketing’s success is gated by the digital acumen of their own organizations. On the other, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) find that the expectations of their engineering teams are influenced more by digital exemplars like Amazon, Google, and Silicon Valley start-ups than by peer benchmarks within their own industry.

It’s no surprise then that Harvard Business Review recently joined the chorus and profiled the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT) – a new type of executive responsible for bringing marketing and technology together. According to a 2014 Gartner study, 81 percent of large organizations now have a CMT.

Despite the excitement around marketing technology and the CMT role, the ambiguity as to who these individuals are, the skills they possess, and where they sit organizationally has led to considerable confusion. And the confusion results in two related issues. One, executives need better clarity regarding how they can identify, recruit, bring on board, and retain these talented individuals. Second, aspiring marketing technologists have no guidelines against which to benchmark and level up their own skills.

To help us shed more light on these issues, we partnered with Scott Brinker, the host of the MarTech conference and popular blog to conduct a first-of-its-kind study of marketing technologists’ skills, career paths, attitudes, and behaviors.

For the first time, we have been able to “x-ray” the professional marketing technologist. And the results are striking.

Today’s marketing technologists cluster into six distinct archetypes, and they are not equivalent or interchangeable. Of the six archetypes, three are focused on technology and three are focused on marketing.


The six archetypes have two main areas of focus

We found that marketing technologists are grouped into six archetypes – three with a marketing focus and three with a technology focus.


Respondents’ self-identified skills fell into distinct clusters, revealing the archetypes:

With marketing skills emphasized over technology, mavens specialize in building marketing programs using expertise in marketing strategy, strategic positioning, and promotion.

2. DATA DIVAS (17%)
Divas are skilled in marketing operations management, customer relationship management (CRM), data science, analytics, and modeling. They know how to acquire, integrate, and make data perform.

Storytellers. Message crafters. Marketing strategists. Content management platform experts. This type exercises considerable knowledge of content marketing and related technologies to direct communications-oriented marketing.

Enterprise-level technology chops define this archetype, but they are also business consultants and bring a high-level understanding of a company’s marketing initiatives.

One foot in technology and the other in experience. They are experts in cutting-edge technology: from e-commerce to front-end technology and mobility.

This archetype specializes in research, consumer insights, and strategic planning. Members think strategically about segmentation and connections planning.

The emergence of these archetypes may represent specialization within the profession, often seen in mature fields such as medicine or engineering. However, we doubt it.

More likely, the skill gaps we found indicate that the archetypes are emerging through a Darwinian selection process as individuals who may not meet the full job specifications are promoted into this new role.

One immediate implication for those organizations in search of the best person to steward marketing technology through a period of profound disruption is that they need to define the role more specifically than simply as “marketing technologist.” The needs of an organization may in fact require that the CMT embodies a combination of at least two – and possibly as many as allsix – of the archetypes.

This said, the archetypes are a starting point to contain search efforts and costs, as they are clear segmentations of today’s talent.

To read more about our proprietary CMTO research, examine the numerous findings, and hear how we are evolving with this development, download the full article PDF below.

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