It’s no secret that marketing is going through a lot of changes these days. It seems like you can leave your desk to grab a cup of coffee and by the time you’re back another social platform has emerged, a must-have technology is promoted, or an acquisition is announced.

Marketing is going through the most significant, technology-fueled transformation in its history.

Consider these recent developments:

Rapid shifts in consumer behavior. In recent years, most people have changed:

  • how they watch television (on-demand; NetFlix)
  • how they communicate (social media; Facebook; Pinterest)
  • their adoption of smartphones and tablets (iPhone; Android; iPad)
  • how they shop in stores (“Showrooming” and buying it cheaper online)
  • what they expect in terms of service and experience (based on experiences with Apple, Amazon, Trader Joes, etc.)

CMOs have increased responsibility for technology and technology decisions

  • Gartner predicts that CMOs will have larger IT budgets than CIOs by 2017
  • CMOs are rapidly hiring “Chief Marketing Technologists” and “Marketing Operations Leader” roles
  • Companies are developing or hiring “pi-shaped” talent–folks with strong collaboration skills, interest in other disciplines, and deep marketing and technology expertise.

Rise in marketing complexity

  • Explosion in marketing technology options from both startups and established players.
  • Advances in lead generation, lead scoring, web analytics, marketing automation, CRM, etc.
  • Massive volumes of data. Google says 90% of the world’s data generated in just the past two years.

Increases in C-Suite expectations

  • CEOs and CFOs are demanding an investment-like discipline in marketing approach.
  • Upside is that many organizations are sitting on volumes of cash. CMOs who use data to tell a compelling story of how to increase revenue are generally rewarded with increased budgets.

Cloud model for marketing technology

  • Many marketing technology offerings are now available as software-as-a-service (SaaS) via the cloud.
  • On-demand model often means little internal IT integration and speeds adoption.
  • SaaS model is disrupting the traditional pricing model for enterprise technology vendors and driving down costs.

Market growth

  • Many companies are investing in upgrades and expansions to the enterprise marketing technology stack.
  • We’re only partially through this phase of growth, with much potential ROI left to realize.

As evidence of this transformation and the growing importance of marketing technology, one need look no further than the markets. Enterprise technology giants are quickly responding to the demand for more integrated marketing technology platforms by acquiring pieces of the puzzle. For example, in the past 18 months, Oracle, IBM, Salesforce and Adobe have acquired over $20 billion of marketing technology companies. The most recent of these was just announced this week. Salesforce is set to acquire Exact Target for $2.5 billion.

As CMOs respond to the transformation of marketing and drive more and more technology decisions, they must also develop deeper partnerships with their CIO counterparts. While many marketing technology services can be set up quickly via SaaS models, a good deal of integration is still required. To upgrade and expand their enterprise marketing technology stacks, CMOs must balance the need to move quickly with the need to improve effectiveness, which will required integration and coordination.

Direct, digital relationships with customers are now more critical to company success than ever before. Responding to this opportunity and challenge will require a new level of leadership to set the vision, listen and learn, execute with discipline, and collaborate across (and beyond) the enterprise.

Buckle your seat belts. This is the new normal, and we’re in for an incredible ride.

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