Forrester Report: CMOs Must Become Technologists + Master Marketing Tools
Map of cross channel buying journey.

Digital marketing tools are threatening to undermine the role of CMOs who don't have a strong technological understanding, and CMOs everywhere should take stock of how strongly they grasp tech's role in business, a Forrester report found.

CMO Tech Skills Must Align to Business Strategy

As the above image shows, there is a bevy of channels available for marketers to juggle, and technology is now at a point where it is advanced enough to help automate much of the heavy lifting. The problem is that technology has quickly advanced in just a few short years, and many CMOs have previously focused more on the creative side. Leaders who fall into that category simply have no choice but to bone up on their technical know how in order to keep from becoming irrelevant, the report found.

As the number of marketing channels increases, marketing simply must rely on technology to handle that fragmentation, as well as marry it with internal data sources, Forrester's The CMO's Role in Technology Purchasing report found.

Technolgy's advance now gives marketers a way to tie customer viewpoints to a business strategy by using customer data to respond in a very precise way, and that ability will require more tech savvy leaders. Because of how fast digital marketing tools are advancing, CMOs have often simply gone rogue and purchased tools they thought they needed without going through IT.

This helps reduce time to market, but it results in a lack of perspective, the report found. CMOs who buy point solutions (as imagined in the above image) are at risk of this very occurrence, but other tactics are also putting CMOs at risk. When CMOs miss the integration points of their tech tools, and when they allow the technology to dictate process and strategy, they may be treading dangerous waters.

People, Process, then Technology

To avoid the mistakes mentioned above, it's recommended CMOs develop a technology strategy. They should start by building a list of technology must haves, determine the role of the marketer in making vendor selections, and develop technology skills appropriate to the company's needs.

Learning Opportunities

Forrester then recommends CMOs define and execute a road map based on their buyer's journey. This includes identifying which technologies are most marketing intensive, such as customer facing, customer enabling, marketing operations and analytics technologies. Additionally, CMOs must find vendors that support and map to their strategy.

In order to make those vendor selections, however, CMOs must develop the technical skills to evaluate those vendors. This includes developing the process skills to drive technology choices, become interested in the outcome of decisions made to select vendors, and capitalizing on the importance of integrating data from disparate sources.

Included in the report is a detailed readiness assessment tool for CMOs to check just how ready they are to do those vendor evaluations. There are aslo some key recommendations for CMOs such as having a frank sit down with the CIO over the most valuable role of the CMO, and embedding a marketing technologist on one's team.

Forrester interviewed 15 companies for this report including, HupSpot, SAP, Marketo, Pitney Bowes and Content Marketing Institute. Tell us in the comments what your company's latest marketing tools are and if they were selected holistically or more or less directed solely by the CMO.