With the rise of the tech revolution, companies are adjusting their digital marketing strategies in order to compete and outperform their competitors. AdAge predicts that digital will overtake broadcast, mobile will overtake desktop, marketing technologies will boom, and Google will gain most of it’s revenue from mobile within the next year, joining with Facebook, Twitter, and China’s WeChat within the next year. By both design and necessity, the duties of CMO and CTO are increasingly merging in a new position called CMTO, Chief Marketing Technology Officer. Why is that important? It is important because more and more companies will be looking for a CMO with CTO experience, or vise versa, in the near future.
By aligning, the hybrid CMTO title and function reflects the impact technology has had on marketing, and the need for individuals who have training, experience, and a balanced respect for both skill sets. Rather than have a CMO, who needs to interact with and accommodate the requirements of the IT staff, or an IT staff, lacking the perspective of the marketing function, a senior level CMTO will be tasked with effectively managing both. Does that mean that the position of CMO and the position of CTO will disappear?
Not for now. There are still some unsolved problems. Even though, experts predict that every company needs – or will need – a CMTO in the future, the educational system will need time to create curricula and prepare a new generation of professionals to carry this new perspective into the workforce. Not many university programs currently offer CMTO courses. One of the first institutions to offer CMTO education is the CMTO University, started by Sheldon Monteiro within SapientNitro.
As much as this hybrid position sounds like a great idea, we hold a more cautionary view. By creating positions like CMTO that merge multiple areas of knowledge into one person, companies create a “generation of generalists.”
In addition, there is much to be gained from the natural, constructive tension that comes from the interaction of two specialty areas. Also, it is hard to believe that someone who knows a little bit about marketing and a little bit about technology can do a better job than someone who is an expert in marketing and someone who is an expert in technology. Maybe specialization isn’t overrated?
The majority of millennials bring basic tech knowledge to the job. They know how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, the Adobe Suite, social media networking sites, and email. We believe that it is essential to be specialized in something and, in addition, have some knowledge in the other business areas of the company.
CMO’s need to be able to manage a P&K+L but they aren’t aspiring to be the CFO; CTO’s need to have an understanding of how consumers use digital media but they don’t aspire to be brand managers. Finally, the particular company environment one is working in makes a difference. For example, working for a start up might require further tech knowledge than just the basics, while working for a marketing agency might require specialization in business rather than technology.
In general, the best advice is to be well rounded. Therefore, if you are working on getting your MBA, specialize in the field you like the most, but know how the tech department works as well. That way, if the trend towards CMTO continues, you’ll be ready.
This article is written from the personal perspective of Desiree Popelka. The opinions and views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Miller Group Advertising.