The lines of traditional marketing and digital roles are becoming blurred with traditional technical roles in organizations. In the past, IT housed the technical staff only. Going way back, IT’s job was to offer in-house break-fix services, safeguard the company’s sensitive data behind firewalls, protect employees from malware, and perhaps maintain on-premise software and hardware. My, how times have changed.
More recently, IT has shifted from a cost center to a value center. They offer much more than break-fix, providing needed expertise to maintain the company’s relevancy in the technological age of cloud computing, software development, digital transformation, social media, mobile engagement and endless system integrations. These skills are highly sought after because organizations finally recognize the value of IT to drive the business forward. As new technologies bring greater capabilities, speed and efficiencies, landing IT talent has become a core strategy for any growing company.
There is another shift in the making, however. Technical skills are migrating outside of the IT silo and into marketing departments. Even more surprising is more non-technical, creative skills are needed in IT. What’s going on in these traditionally segregated environments?
The CIO and CTO Are Embracing Digital Talent
IT has had a front-seat view as technology has taken over the culture and the enterprise. As their workloads increase and they are expected to deliver more faster, they are recognizing the benefits of having digital talent within their organizations. It is no longer the exception to have content writers, designers and SEO experts on staff in IT. While some organizations keep traditional digital and marketing functions separate from the software development organizations, it has become more common to build teams which include digital and technical delivery together, usually aligned at the product or business unit level.
The Digital Marketing Institute reports that 40 percent of marketing job openings now require digital skills and those jobs take 16 percent longer to fill than regular marketing positions. Why? Because digital marketers must be able to access, analyze and leverage big data, using AI and other emerging technologies. SEO is also a huge component in the digital age, requiring SEO skills to drive traffic to the corporate website and rank in search engines. The Institute says people with SEO skills “typically have a background in math, statistics, and have a technical background, such as web development and UX or UI. They are generally quite knowledgeable about analytics tools as well.”
Having these types of marketing skills within IT not only saves time in delivering more targeted products and services to customers, but it can save costs as well. The organization runs more efficiently with fewer bottlenecks as there is a symbiotic relationship between “creatives” and “techs”, even a merging of those skills into individuals who express both capabilities.
For those organizations looking to capitalize on these skills, it can be highly beneficial to partner with an IT and digital staffing agency to find that unique skill set. As the Digital Marketing Institute found, hiring these types of positions isn’t easy. Companies can spend at least 30 percent of an employee’s first-year earnings hiring the wrong person, not to mention the time it takes to review resumes, interview and onboard. It’s worth leaving it to the experts, those who have in-depth knowledge of the industry, the talent and the competition to find the right person with the right skills for you.
The IT department isn’t the only business unit experiencing blurred lines. Marketing, too, is shifting from being its own siloed division looking to bring more value to the enterprise.
The CMO Role Is More Strategic than Tactical
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has, until now, been relegated to a tactical role of creating, communicating and delivering messaging that (hopefully) resonates with consumers so they are inspired to buy from, partner with or otherwise endorse the brand. Their job, in essence, is to promote the brand in order to earn market share. It can be challenging to prove a CMO’s department’s worth, as campaigns don’t always result in easily measurable indicators of success. This doesn’t always jive with finance, of course, who are all about justifying spend.
Fortunately for CMOs, they are gaining a louder voice, evolving from a tactical stance to a more strategic one as customers demand to be engaged via digital channels that require marketing’s attention. Marketing is no longer about delivering a cadence of temporal campaigns but establishing ongoing relationships with customers along the channels they prefer. Social media, mobile push notifications, SMS text messaging, emails, instant messaging and mobile apps are among those, each requiring extensive market research, data analytics and customized campaign strategies.
According to Deloitte Insights, marketing’s new role is to walk in the customer’s shoes and bring their journey to the organization so every department understands where they can play a part in shaping their brand experience. To do this, Deloitte says marketers must first understand the entire customer journey, collecting “vast amounts of data” and analyze that data to provide insights. They must then execute strategy “through organizational partnerships.” They take what they know, the data-driven insights, and work with the rest of the business to deliver a customer-focused solution, all aimed to improve the overall customer experience with the brand.
And how does a CMO deliver this value? Through technology. Customers want it, expect it and demand it. They want to shop online using interactive tools. They want to have an omnichannel experience from store to website to mobile app. They want to engage customer service in private chat rooms, not waiting on hold for a call center rep. They want customized emails based on their interests, not email blasts that waste their time. Marketers must, therefore, be proficient with technology, such as artificial intelligence, mobile computing, social media, and the internet of things, and use it as the foundation for all of their initiatives to reach customers.
According to TechTarget, CMOs now frequently boast a strong background in information technology to bring the most value to the organization. “CMOs and their teams are able to tap into those technologies to reach and influence customers, position their products and challenge competitors at the same speed and scale as the customers…they must be highly inquisitive and innovative, able to identify emerging technologies that could disrupt their business or industry and then also able to respond to that by directing his or her C-suite colleagues on how to reposition the company in light of that change.”
What company wouldn’t want that in their CMO?
It isn’t all up to the CMO. They must hire creative staff as usual, but augment their staff with those with technical and analytical skills, those like business intelligence analysts and data scientists. Each brings different value to the table and can work together to execute specific enterprise strategies. Instead of relying on IT to take its creative output and digitize it, marketing has the skills it needs within its own department to design, develop, build, deliver and measure its own products and services. In effect, the CMO turns the marketing department into an execution powerhouse with every project aligned with the corporate strategy.
As companies strive to keep up with the evolving demands of the customer and the ever-increasing channels on which they spend their time, they must be open to change. The enterprise no longer looks like it did even a decade ago. Yes, lines are being blurred and silos are coming down. This is a good thing. When the organization works in unison towards a common goal, everyone is better for it. It’s a team, after all. You recruit the best players to be on your team and they work together to achieve the overarching goal of winning. Winning may look different to each company, but it can be defined and measured based on how customers respond to it.