Does Tomorrow Belong to Marketers?
Yesterday's marketers were focused on emotion and brand. They were cost centers, and effectively beggars in the c-suite. Today's marketers are all about data. They're accountable, revenue-driven and respected by their peers.
At least, that's the take Phil Fernandez, chairman and CEO of Marketo, gave during his address at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit (I'm paraphrasing him above). The marketer of today, and even more the marketer of tomorrow, is completely different from the marketer of yesterday. And all of the company is now involved with engaging and communicating with the customers.
"When your agenda is the entire company's agenda, that is a different way to think," said Fernandez. "You're now driving the entire company's agenda."
Vincent Ircandia, SVP business operations of the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, backed that up during his portion of the keynote:
Today's marketer, and more tomorrow's marketer, needs to be an expert on the technology function.
That includes not just identifying systems, but evaluating if they will integrate with the rest of our stack and play nicely with IT.
And of course, Ircandia said marketers need to know math and the data. And that tomorrow's marketers need to understand the customer experience.
"Who's better to decipher those digital bread crumbs left by the customer ... than the marketing staff?" asked Ircandia. "There isn't anybody."
Or is there?
CIOs in the Hen House
The thing about all these new roles for the marketer is that a lot of them don't necessarily need to be in the hands of marketers.
After all, as Jerry Wind points out often, out of the traditional 4 Ps of marketing — product, price, place and promotion — the CMO generally only controls one of those: promotion. Sometimes the CMO might have influence over price or place, and rarely a lucky CMO gets to help design a product, but those three are generally out of the marketer's control.
The same goes for the Website, IT infrastructure, data warehouse, and the tools that enable customer communication.
With apologies to Fernandez, "When your agenda is the entire company's agenda," does not always mean, "You're now driving the entire company's agenda." Sometimes it means the rest of the company is driving your agenda, and you get even less say over how marketing operates.
That leaves the door open for chief information officers, chief digital officers, and other roles that are not specifically marketing but control much of the marketing apparatus.
In a recent study by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 86 percent of CMOs said they expect to own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020.
But not everyone sees it that way. Wind actually calls for a "Chief Orchestrator" who would manage the customer experience across all touchpoints, from marketing to product development and customer service. And for the most part he doesn't see the CMO as a good fit for that role.
Brian Solis of The Altimeter Group has said in many places that he sees CIOs as much more likely to have the innovation and perspective to take control of the customer infrastructure. He feels they are in better position to see the opportunities that improve customers lives and have made companies like Apple and Disney great.
So, who does the future really belong to? Marketers, or their brethren over in IT? Someone else?
The future of many companies is being rewritten today as marketing and other departments struggle to get a hold of the new, slippery, always-on customer journey. Executives who are able to use and improve the tools of that interaction without getting lost in them are the ones who'll own the future.