Why the CMO Needs to Care About Tech Talent

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce recently launched an initiative called WorkIT Nashville, aimed at recruiting technology talent from other markets. (You can even see my smiling mug on the “contact” page.)

WorkIT Nashville logo

Fine. But let’s say you’re a VP of marketing at a B2B company based in the Chicago area. What do Nashville’s tech talent recruitment efforts have to do with you?

Plenty. Because the line between marketing and technology is increasingly blurry. In organizations all over the world, marketing groups are starting to use more and more technologies that require geeks (I use that term fondly; my own geek quotient is high) to understand and run them. The world [meta]marketer lives in – that of marketing intelligence and insights, powered by analytics and optimization – is a hybrid world. We rely on classic marketing skills, like good instincts about audience segmentation and relevant messaging, but even more on technological skills, like data analysis, A/B and multivariate testing, on-page factors for SEO, and so on.

These latter skills are not typically taught alongside the four P’s in marketing classes (although I’m game to discuss whether they ought to be). And if you’re a marketing leader, that should make you a little nervous.

Every business generates tremendous amounts of data in day-to-day transactions with customers. The table stakes for competing in this accelerating marketplace are the abilities to identify and enhance effective marketing efforts, phase out or adjust efforts that prove ineffective, and build up business intelligence and customer insights incrementally over time.

The skills it takes to do all of that are increasingly valuable and still rare. To remain competitive and relevant, marketing leaders need to embrace the growing role of technology in helping to build relevant and responsive relationships with customers. Initiatives like the Nashville Chamber program, as a high-profile acknowledgement that technology talent is increasingly powering the economy, should serve as a wake-up call to any marketing executive who isn’t yet up to speed with the growing importance of data and tech tools in marketing.

It’s a data-driven world. The savviest marketers are either recruiting geeks or becoming them. (Or hiring companies full of ‘em, like ours.) One way or the other, marketing and technology have got to be best friends, or the trends will slip away from you faster than you can tweet about your lunch.

Short version: meet the new marketing. It’s like the old marketing, except geekier.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted February 26, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Great summary. I know the quote has been thrown around a lot, perhaps too much, but I’m going to quote it again: “In short, software is eating the world.” So says Marc Andreesson, anyway.

    I think the market will eventually shift to meet the demand, but it’s definitely a long play. Technical skills (whether writing code or analyzing data with the tools available) are going to have to become more a part of our everyday existence; it will experience various degrees of specialization but the general knowledge is something most people are going to need in their repertoire.

    I’m not fully convinced that the CoC campaign is going to fulfill it’s intended purpose, but it’s good that the Chamber accepts the reality that this is a problem and is trying something.

  2. Posted February 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink