New Manager

Why marketers need that tech edge

 Chetna Mehra | Updated on March 12, 2018


Integration of technology and marketing changes the role of marketers

Nitin Agarwal started his career in a technology role, but his current employer, Shopclues — an e-commerce start-up to recently rake-in a funding of $100 million — was flexible enough to give him a prime marketing role in the organisation. Agarwal’s rich technology experience actually came in handy for his current role as Senior Director of Marketing at “Being a product manager really helped carry out my role as a marketer for an e-commerce platform,” he says. “We are an online retailer and even the smallest of the things we do, involves technology. My technology background helps me see the scalability and limitations of programmes, initiatives and data we use.”

Tech background

The demand for marketers with a technology background has grown considerably. According to an Accenture report, CMOs: Time for digital transformation, about 42 per cent of the respondents believe analytics skills will be marketing’s core competence in the next five years. More than one-fourth (26 per cent) believe marketing and IT will merge into a single function.

With the integration of technology and marketing, it is safe to say, the role of marketers will also change extensively. New-age CMOs will re-orient the marketing operating models and integrate new talent to harness digital innovation. As the transition takes place, CMOs still believe that to survive in a digital world they need not become hardcore technologists.

CMOs don't need to know technology themselves, they only need to have digital experts in their team who live and soak in technology 24X7, says Shireesh Joshi, COO, Strategic Marketing Group at Godrej. “A well-grounded CMO needs to also interact with R&D, supply chain, working out financials and so on.” Godrej has about five dedicated technologist-marketers in its core marketing team.

Dinesh Mishra, Partner - Advisory Services and Customer Practice Leader, Ernst & Young India, shares Joshi's view. “The key responsibility of the marketers i.e. connecting with the customers emotionally as well as communicating benefits has not changed. What has changed is the increase in role of technology to provide these insights,” says Mishra.

The core of what a marketer does may not have changed but the medium has been changing continuously. Whether it’s socialising, working, shopping, banking, watching movies, dating or getting cabs, consumers are doing everything online and companies want to engage with them, as they (consumers) do it.

Digital trasnformation

For instance, Meru, over the last year, has transformed into a digital company with over 60 per cent of the business coming from digital. “It is consumers who are leading the digital revolution led by smart phone and app adoption and marketers are following to capture the opportunity,” says Rathin Lahiri, CMO, Meru and MeruGenie Cabs. “Digitisation is not about marketing alone but about transforming the organisation to capture the digital opportunity.” With a measurable ROI attached to it, Meru spends about 65 per cent of its marketing budget on digital initiatives. While traditional marketers are of the view that technology is a support function, and that creativity and ground-zero-insight will continue to bear successful marketing efforts, the new breed of marketers believe big-data and behavioural analytics are the gospel truth of marketing. Either way, no CMO wants to be left on the sidelines. So, what should one do? “When you look to hire, you should look for people who, at the core are marketers, as well as tuned to technology,” says Mishra. “They don't need to be technologists but should be able to quickly pick-up the latest in technology.” CMOs need to surround themselves with ‘such’ people both from inside and outside the organisation in the form of CIOs, CTOs, and external agencies, Mishra adds.

While senior marketers have succeeded in hiring talent with digital, analytical and technical skills, the impact has yet to show up in terms of improved performance, the Accenture report says.

But, the demand for 'technologist marketers' will continue to rise. But, will technology take over the creativity, insight and field experience a marketer can bring?

Published on April 28, 2015

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