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PHOTO: Eneas De Troya

The Marketing Technologist function landed back in the headlines in October with the release of the 2018 Gartner Marketing Technology Survey (paywall) by senior analysts Bryan Yeager and Anna Maria Virzi. The report noted that 26 percent of all enterprise organizations manage their marketing technology within marketing with a dedicated technology team, and that the average marketing technology team has 25 full-time employees.  

None of this comes as a surprise, as the report also noted that 29 percent of the marketing budget is allocated to technology and given technology’s critical importance to driving revenue and maximizing customer lifetime value (CLTV). It would be irresponsible not to have the appropriate resources dedicated to making sure the right technology is in place, being properly utilized, and delivering the performance expected and required.

2018 Marketing Technologist Trends

As the role of the Marketing Technologist matures, I’m seeing some interesting patterns and trends. The first is the introduction of the Marketing Technology Product Manager (MTPM). This function sits either in marketing or engineering and has been created in recognition of how complex and important a company’s core marketing platforms (e.g. CRM, marketing automation, CDP, ecommerce, analytics, DAM) are to business performance.   

MTPM’s have responsibility for one or two of these platforms and are tasked with:

  • Understanding and documenting the organization’s requirements.
  • Performing a Build vs. Buy analysis (more on that below).
  • Managing the development, launch and implementation of internally developed platforms.
  • Staying in lock-step with vendors and their roadmaps for acquired technology to ensure that critical vendors are keeping pace with industry innovations and developing the features needed by the organization.
  • Being the technology expert and “source of truth” about the technology for the organization.
  • Looking ahead and staying on top of technology innovation.

One of the things I’ve found counterintuitive this year is how much marketing technology is still being developed internally. With an ever-increasing technology landscape, you’d think organizations would be shifting toward just purchasing the technology they need, but we haven’t seen that at CabinetM. Our customers tell us there are areas where they think they can deliver competitive differentiation or significantly reduce costs by developing their own technology. As a result, for large-scale initiatives, they generally conduct a build versus buy analysis.  

Adding to this is what Scott Brinker refers to as the democratization of technology development to describe the trend where companies like Zapier for example, are providing easy to assemble technology building blocks that make it simple for marketers to build their own marketing applications.

Another organizational trend this year has been a move towards centralized oversight of the marketing technology stack. Regardless of how distributed the purchasing of technology is, there is an increasing mandate for centralized oversight to ensure there is data coherence across the stack and to eliminate excess costs associated with redundant platforms and contracts. This oversight function generally resides within marketing operations and is becoming a core strategic function. We now hear marketing operations teams talking about being the “single source of truth” for the marketing tech stack and working closely with teams across the organization to ensure that any technology being considered for use integrates well into the marketing technology stack and drives incremental business performance.

Related Article: Marketing Technologists Take Their Rightful Place Says Scott Brinker

Marketing Technologist as Agent of Change

The life of a marketing technologist is all about driving change and innovation to improve the customer experience, drive revenue and increase CLTV. As the marketing technology team increases in responsibility and impact, one of the issues that can arise is internal organizational resistance to change. This is a natural consequence of being an agent of change. 

As marketing technology extends beyond the boundaries of marketing in support of digital transformation initiatives, colleagues across the organization are asked to adapt to new technology and new processes. Most of us are naturally resistant to change, and when complex technology is involved, we can be very good at erecting brick walls. As Marketing Tech Superheroes, marketing technologists need the following super powers: excellent communication and negotiation skills; the ability to translate technical jargon into easy to understand statements of what is, what needs to be done, how it will get done, and the reason for doing it; patience and persistence (once the brick walls go up, it takes time to break them down); and without a doubt, a sense of humor. Driving change across an organization is not for the faint of heart, but it is a fundamental part of the job description for any marketing technologist.

Related Article: How Leaders Turn Martech Strategies Into Tactics

A Rapidly Changing Industry

As the end of the year approaches, I find myself grateful to be working in this fast-paced, rapidly changing industry. When we started CabinetM, marketing technologists were considered unicorns and finding one to talk to wasn’t easy.  

Today, my whole world revolves around supporting this group of superheroes who are experts at succeeding in a constantly changing environment and at the bleeding edge of technology innovation. My experience with this community has been extraordinary: every marketing technologist I’ve met and dealt with has been kind, generous, willing to collaborate, and more than happy to share their experience and advice with industry colleagues. These are definitely my peeps and I am full of admiration for the work they are doing. As we head into 2019, I can only say to this community “up up and away!”