Digital Marketing Technologists Tackle The Data, Content And Commerce Collision

ChartingCourseThe digital marketing technologist isn’t exactly a new kid on the block in the enterprise, given Gartner’s prediction – in 2012 – that 70% of companies employed one.

But the job title has definitely evolved as many of the technologies that fuel brands’ consumer interactions – from data-management platforms to CRM to commerce systems – have consolidated or pivoted to meet the demands of chief marketing officers.

Typically, these executives liaise between CIOs, whose technology implementations are generally multiyear projects, and CMOs, who might only have weeks or months at most.

“We are very cognizant about putting a lot of focus on delivering frictionless brand experiences, which is what some people would call omnichannel,” said Mayur Gupta, who joined consumer packaged goods company Kimberly-Clark three years ago as global head of marketing technology and innovation.

One of the key challenges, he said, is "How do we put the consumer at the center of the marketing technology landscape and tie data back to everything, since it massively influences the content we deliver?"

While their respective duties vary by organization, chief marketing technologists connect with internal groups, and third parties like agencies and vendor platforms, since a key part of the position is sourcing best-of-breed solutions, as well as driving enterprise innovation via technology.

“We’re seeing the most advanced marketers and CMOs saying, ‘We need to have direct control over the technology platforms through which our data flows,’” said Ashu Garg, general partner at Foundation Capital, a VC firm that has invested in video ad platform TubeMogul, Oracle’s Responsys and Neustar’s data-management platform, Aggregate Knowledge. 

But CMOs don’t become tech-savvy overnight, Garg added: “The forward-thinking ones are recognizing they need a person reporting to them who can be the bridge between the world of marketing and the world of technology.”

Fidelity Investments, a company whose business interests differ vastly from a CPG’s, also invests in digital marketing technologists to facilitate behind-the-scenes change in their respective organizations.

“If you are on the technology side, you might look at marketing as ‘cowboy risky,’” said Suzanne O’Connor, Fidelity’s director of digital marketing technology, speaking at Ensighten’s AGILITY conference in San Francisco. “On the marketing side, you see IT as this dinosaur, so my goal is to find the right balance between these two guardrails and to deliver the right technology that operates at the speed of marketing.”

Since Fidelity is in the heavily regulated financial services industry, security and compliance is a top priority, so the digital marketing technologist’s M.O. is to mash together a heavily IT-influenced skillset of information security and risk management, with the agility, speed and innovation of marketing.

In the past, technology might have been described as a marketer’s Achilles heel, whereas today it’s largely recognized as a competitive differentiator, should an organization have the proper people to deploy it and measure the impact.

“We knew it was hard to integrate, but marketing and IT largely existed separately and we knew the work could happen just passing things back and forth to each other almost like a badminton game,” O’Connor added.

But the consumer, particularly with the advent of mobile and social, didn’t have time to wait weeks, months or – gasp – years for marketing and technology to converge and, subsequently, for the offers they receive in-store to match their search habits online.

“We’re at a point now where platforms are finally starting to converge silos across first-, second- and third-party data silos,” said Gupta, with Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai being a prime example of CRM and sales technology tangibly meeting the world of third-party, anonymized information.

It’s a trend occurring in the consumer platform world, too. Google putting buy buttons into video ads. Facebook turning into a publishing platform. Amazon developing original content. Telcos buying ad tech.

These developments mean once separate enterprise disciplines of media, content, marketing and commerce must combine to match the rate of change of consumer touch points. There is still a great amount of work to be done internally, said Chris Bauserman, a senior director for Rackspace Digital.

Within his role at Rackspace, a company which competes with Amazon to some extent on web services and commerce solutions but geared more to the small-to-midmarket client, Bauserman interacts with everyone from end-client brands, their commerce and mar-tech partners Adobe and Oracle, agency holding companies like Publicis Groupe and systems integrators like Deloitte.

Although Bauserman, a former Ernst & Young adviser, agreed – there’s definitely an influx of demand for digital marketing technology skillsets within the enterprise – there is still an artificial divide between various deployments, such as marketing and commerce, or ad tech and marketing tech.

For instance, when it comes to ecommerce technology purchases, web content management and the digital site experience is primarily relegated to the marketing group while transactional, commerce-based platform decisions are handed off to the ecommerce group, creating silos.

The problem is, with content personalization, tag management and targeted product offers all fair game to a marketer’s daily work life, sometimes organizational breakdowns or silos can stymie technology selections or ultimate execution.

“We’ve discovered a real need to provide project management coordination amongst all these parties – technology vendors, agencies and SIs – when a project goes live,” Bauserman said.

Still, at some of the largest organizations, financial services giant JPMorgan Chase among them, there’s a recognition that seamless internal execution is paramount.

“I have somebody who does nothing but … source the best ad and mar-tech startups [and] … someone who does nothing but run digital platforms and ad technology to figure out how to execute these,” said Kristin Lemkau, CMO for JPMorgan Chase, speaking Thursday at LUMA Partners’ Digital Media Summit.

She added: “The data scientist is probably the guy I'm nicest to day in and day out” and that enterprises should focus internally “because those are the people who understand the customers, the issues and the regulations, which is huge for us.”

 

 

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