Growing Marketing Technologists & The Future Of Modern Marketing

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A roomful of marketing technologists were jokingly called unicorns at last month’s MarTech Conference.

The marketing technology space is expanding and growing at such an unprecedented speed that many organizations don’t yet have the talent to execute fully in it. Several speakers at the MarTech conference called for training, educating and growing your own unicorns to meet this critical need.

In this column, I’ll explore two of the biggest challenges facing marketing today — finding and developing this unique talent set and choosing an approach to the marketing cloud.

Why Is This Such A Difficult Problem?

MarTech conference chair Scott Brinker has created the internet’s most-shared marketing technology landscape (shown below — click to enlarge). The sheer size of this graphic illustrates why keeping up with these marketing technologies is so difficult (keep in mind this accounts for as little as 25% of the total marketing technologies in the space).

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[CLICK TO ENLARGE]

It’s no wonder the role of the marketing technologist is so crucial to the success of the modern marketing organization.

A Key Decision: To Build Or Not Build Your Marketing Cloud

The inaugural MarTech Conference in Boston was a seminal moment in my career so far. Being in a room with 400+ of today’s top marketing technologist unicorns from some of the top brands in the world, it’s clear that the future is bright for modern marketing. I have since embraced my inner unicorn.

It was humbling and truly an honor to be able to speak in front of so many brilliant minds as the final keynote of the day. My presentation, To Build or Not to Build your Marketing Cloud, sparked quite a bit of debate at the conference and afterward on a few sites. I discussed the merits of going with big corporations that are acquiring technologies — like Adobe, IBM, Oracle, SalesForce and even Google to some degree — versus the approach of building your own marketing cloud. I refer to the latter as building your “marketing technology stack.”

To effectively build a marketing technology stack, my argument is that it’s best to do so via an enterprise-level tag/data management solution, like an Ensighten, Tealium, Signal, Google Tag Manager or others.

From my experience thus far, the loudest proponents of buying a large acquired/integrated marketing cloud from Adobe, IBM, or Oracle are people that actually work for Adobe, IBM, or Oracle. The big companies are doing a great job at getting employee advocates to trumpet their message.

I don’t personally believe this is the best long-term approach. However, it’s fun to debate with equally passionate and talented unicorns. I’m certain that this dialogue will continue at the MarTech in San Francisco in March 2015.

Where To Find Your Own Marketing Technology Unicorns

“It’s difficult to find someone with the skills necessary to be a marketing technologist,” was one of the messages from recruiter Erica Siedel, who also presented at #MarTech. When you find a unicorn, you have to be able to woo them over to your team. (See Erica’s column on the topic here.)

Bad Ass Unicorn.  via SuperbWallpapers

Bad Ass Unicorn. via SuperbWallpapers

Recruiting marketing technologists may be hard, so this is where building a training system for growing MarTech pros comes into play. Paul Roetzer, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint, cited a very interesting statistic: “Only one of the top 10 university marketing programs requires a digital marketing class.”

Breathe that in. Think about It. Here we are in 2014, and only one of the top university marketing programs requires digital marketing? Are you freaking kidding me? One? What kind of marketing programs are those other nine?

“Only one of the top 10 university marketing programs requires a digital marketing class.”

It is perplexing to me to find out that most of academia continues to lag behind the needs of real-world marketers. You wouldn’t know it from the price of tuition! (Zing!)

The Chief Marketing Technology Office University

Sheldon Monteiro, the CTO at SapientNitro, did just that. He helped set up the SapientNitro Chief Marketing Technology Officer University. It is training people on many different disciplines of modern marketing.

It looks like an amazing course, although only SapientNitro elite employees can even qualify for the training. Makes me want to go get a job there. I have CMTO training envy now!

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Many organizations across the globe are currently undergoing the buzzworthy Digital Transformation. To effectively do this, you’ll need some marketing technology wizardry to occur. And chances are, you’re not going to be able to hire this person; you’re going to have to grow this person. The time to begin is now.

If you are looking to build or buy a marketing cloud and you missed the resources from my #MarTech presentation, feel free to grab them here.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Travis Wright — Venture Catalyst, Keynote Speaker, CMTO, StandUp Comic, Marketing Technology Entrepreneur, Data & Analytics Geek, Startup Growth Hacker. Business Journalist. Smart Ass.

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