The Soda Academy
"Be prepared to show that you understand business strategy and how technology fits within your client’s marketing approach."
"Agencies need to revisit their approach to analytics as a key way to compete and truly inform other areas of their work."

Kevin Smith, IQ

The Shifting Role of CMO to Technologist

The Shifting Role of CMO to Technologist

This year, Gartner's once eyebrow-raising 2012 prediction that CMOs would spend more on technology than CIOs will be confirmed as true.

According to their CMO Spend Survey in 2016, the average technology spend of a CMO was 3.2% of total revenue, whereas a CIO’s was 3.4%. The report cites that the average marketing expense budget earmarks 27% for technology, a percentage second only to labor costs at 28%.

To those reading this SoDA Report, it won’t come as a shock that marketing is increasingly technology-dependent. It also shouldn’t be surprising that the role of the CMO is changing, and agencies must adapt.

This new “Technologist-CMO” role will be part-strategist and part-technology leader. It is one that will be tasked with aligning marketing technology with business goals, serving as a liaison to IT, evaluating and choosing technology providers, as well as spearheading enhancements to the overall digital customer experience.

As digital marketing and e-commerce continue to augment or replace traditional touchpoints, the importance of mastering those capabilities grows. A marketing team’s choice, configuration, and application of technology impacts how the brand reaches its audience and, in turn, how the audience perceives the brand.

This is where the other sea change for marketing agencies comes into focus, as many management consulting firms and technology companies have created internal marketing firms in recent years, mostly by acquiring marketing agencies with user experiences, digital marketing, design, digital, and mobile capabilities.

Consultancies like Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG, PwC, and even McKinsey have added marketing services to their core product offering. Big marketing tech companies like Oracle and Adobe are right behind them.

In the face of threats on both sides, below are three paths for agencies to consider moving forward:

Evolve your Engagement Model
Be prepared to show that you understand business strategy and how technology fits within your client’s marketing approach. The creative that you bring to the table as an agency is still valuable, but it is no longer enough. Look to introduce new technology-driven services and experiences that will help transform your client’s marketing.

“Walk the walk” on Data
Previous SoDA reports have detailed how more brands are bringing work in-house rather than giving it to an agency. Analytics is one critical marketing element that many companies have brought in-house. Agencies typically have a good overview of how important analytics are to them, but rarely is there anything beyond the standard report of impressions tossed over the fence once a month. Agencies need to revisit their approach to analytics as a key way to compete and truly inform other areas of their work.

Reconsider How You Hire
Prepare to explore candidates outside of your comfort zone. It’s easy to hire the candidate with a long history of agency experience. You know they understand the work and environment. Yet, you will never evolve if you keep doing things the same way – especially when it comes to hiring. Instead, look for innovative digital experience, a data-first approach, and candidates who understand how client needs are evolving. Most of all, look for mini-CEOs. These are hires that want to learn the “why” behind your clients’ businesses, not only “how” to get projects done. These are individuals who view themselves as marketing technology consultants, and that is what your technologist-CMO client will expect.

About the author:

Kevin brings eleven years of experience in the Marketing and Advertising industry to his position as COO at IQ. He also brings humor, determination and collaborative focus to the table when working with clients and internal teams. Kevin thrives on engaging clients and internal teams to create powerful, stunning work focused on addressing a brand’s specific needs. Kevin has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations from Emerson College and an MBA with concentrations in Strategy, Analytics and Marketing from Boston University. He also has a certification in Content Strategy from Northwestern University.