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Who Owns The Marketing Technology Stack?

jason300x300By Jason Stewart, VP of Demand Generation, ANNUITAS

Everyone in the B2B marketing space has heard it by now, as it’s the quote that launched a thousand venture money pitch decks…

By 2017 the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO.

Marketing automation was simply one of the most visible waves of serious technology investment, following on the heels of CRM, web analytics and email marketing technology. Social media monitoring, business intelligence and others have also established a presence at the table. As a result, the volume of information we are collecting across all of our technologies and systems is staggering.

While we know more about what our prospects are clicking on, downloading, and sharing we are still at a loss as to understanding who they are. Buyer behaviors have changed, contributing to the technology boom but also catching B2Bs off guard as our prospects are also leveraging technology, researching and evaluating our products and services in stealth mode, biding their time before (maybe) inviting us to sell to them. 

As the enterprise is scrambling to make sense of a growing landscape of marketing tools, marketing has been traditionally managing their own technology projects -- or at least significant portions of them. But how have they been doing? The Fournaise Group did a recent study evaluating their performance, and it’s clear that the C-Suite has not been impressed as “...CEOs feel marketers...have forgotten that technology is only a support tool that does not create demand per se – only accurate strategies and campaigns pushing the right products, product benefits, content and customer value propositions do.”  

A recent ITSMA study also noted that “only 30% of companies responding believe they are receiving value from marketing technology investments.” And what are the top barriers to marketing technology success? According to 58% of respondents, "no strategy or plan,” but rather a management plan “…cobbled together over time."

So should marketing continue to own the stack, or should IT become more involved? There are arguments both ways, as the configuration and management of marketing technologies typically requires marketing expertise and is often a customer-facing function. On the other hand, increased complexity calls for experience in deploying and integrating disparate systems, and a defined strategy for each and every technology deployment is a skill-set that IT has been developing for decades.

So what’s the answer? A new marketing technologist role with a blend of marketing and IT expertise?The reality is that the change management skills, strategy development, marketing experience, and software development or IT analyst experience required for this new Marketing Technologist role is nearly impossible to find in any one individual.

Clearly a more strategic approach is required.

The CMO needs to do better, and needs to become your Chief Marketing Technologist as well as CMO. They need to spend more time building and owning the strategy for the usage of these technology tools before deployment, understanding the depth and breadth of these offerings and how they work together, and giving more credence to the expertise of the technical team when it comes to the more tactical concerns associated with the technology suite across all departments. 

Just because the CMO is soon to be spending more on technology does not mean that the CIO is irrelevant to the mission of a marketing department. 

Personal development, training and experience are required — but there is a strategic level of expertise here across the C-Suite that the CMO needs to own, and one of the most important signs of leadership is knowing when to ask for help and when to delegate authority. 

The CMO needs to own the strategy, and understand (but delegate) the tactical.


Jason Stewart leads Demand Generation and content strategy efforts at ANNUITAS, and has more than 15 years experience in B2B marketing at both private and public companies.  Prior to ANNUITAS, Stewart was Director of Marketing for Demandbase, where he was named one of marketing automation’s key influencers in Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation and was one of the inaugural nominees for the Content Marketing Institute Awards. He has also won Demand Gen Report’s Social Impact “Killer Content” award in 2013 and a gold medal for content in the 2014 MarCom Awards. Stewart graduated with a degree in English from Rutgers University.  He can be reached at @jstewart_1