Behold, the Rise of the CMTO

By  Naveen Rajdev | 9.6.17

An estimated $2 billion was spent on marketing technology in 2016. The Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2016-2017 shows just how close CMO spend on technology came to CIO spend on IT. Several years earlier, former Gartner research VP Laura McLellan predicted that CMO spend on technology would be higher than CIO spend by 2017. The latest figures show that we may very well be approaching
that benchmark.


This prediction, surprising as it may have seemed at the time, reflects a fundamental shift in the art and science of marketing. It also presents marketing leaders with one of the biggest challenges they may face in their careers: the need to evolve beyond the chief marketing officer role (CMO), and become chief marketing technology officers (CTMO).


Recent innovations allow marketers to harness advanced marketing technologies such as predictive analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence relatively easily—helping businesses connect with customers at unprecedented scale and speed. A CMTO who understands and leverages the power of these technologies will not only transform customer engagement and improve the bottom line, but also can measure the impact of those efforts with exceptional clarity and granularity.


The boardroom recognizes the potential of this impact. According to the same Gartner survey, 57 percent of the marketers surveyed expect their budgets to increase in 2017. Marketing is no longer a field handled primarily by creative types. It requires a combination of creativity, business savvy, technology expertise—and flawless execution. The CMO’s ability to gather the right people, secure the right technology, and execute the right strategy will make or break a company’s success.

Consider the following examples of how using analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality have been transformative for businesses:


  1. Getting inside customers’ heads with analytics: Sophisticated analytics have the power to predict sales impact and yield other customer insights with surprising accuracy. Foursquare recently launched Foursquare Analytics for brands and retailers, enabling them to see foot traffic data across metrics such as gender, age, and new versus returning customers. Why is this a boon for retailers? When Mexican fast food chain Chipotle was hit with an E. coli outbreak last year, Foursquare predicted that sales would fall 29 percent; the actual decline announced by Chipotle was nearly spot-on at 30 percent. Legendary Entertainment (the company that released popular movies such as the Batman series and Inception) analyzed social media data and conversations to guide the making of the Godzilla trailer, which resulted in a 10 percent reduction in media spend and exceeding the box office opening estimate by $30 million. Capital One uses big data analytics to improve conversion rates for customers by determining the best time to present more relevant and targeted offers to clients.

  2. Accelerating sales with AI: As AI becomes more mainstream across industries, it has already had a profound marketing impact. Media buying is one of the tasks where AI can connect the dots in a way that far surpasses a human’s ability. For example, motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson increased sales leads in the New York area by 2,930 percent using AI-driven marketing platform Adgorithms. The system evaluated customer interactions and responses to advertisements across digital channels to determine what yielded the best results. That insight could then be focused to attract the right customers to a dealership. This exercise showed that the target market for Harley-Davidson was much larger than originally estimated.  

  3. Investing in the right places with machine learning: Many businesses want to deliver the most personalized and best customer service possible. They can be hard-pressed to do so when there’s too much information and too many clients to keep track of. Morgan Stanley’s Financial Advisors (FAs) are familiar with this challenge. That’s why the company is tapping into the power of machine learning to make the advice of their FAs more effective, efficient, and scalable. The machine learning system, which is currently being tested and rolled out, was developed with input from FAs. It will offer the FAs ideas for investments tailored to the needs of their individual clients, operational alerts about individual client’s accounts, and provide advice for dealing with the financial considerations stemming from life events, such as recommending the best hospitals and financial strategies for a client who has a sick child.

  4. Delighting customers with simulated experiences: Virtual reality is proving to be a transformative tool in connecting people with each other or spanning great distances without travel. Smithsonian Museum has joined a host of other museums in using VR to enable a wider audience to visit their exhibits and examine artifacts. A recent study by Alphabet’s in-house creative think-tank, Google Zoo, and Google News Labs affirmed that VR has the potential to communicate advertising and journalistic messages much more powerfully than traditional mediums, as marketers discover deeper engagement with deeper experiences through futuristic sensory-stimulating technologies.

Intelligent and immersive technologies are already game-changers for businesses. With innovation happening at breakneck speed, the emerging technologies of today will soon become mainstream staples. As AdWeek recently pointed out, we are preparing for an explosion of technology-focused jobs in digital marketing, such as VR editors, data experts, and machine-learning engineers.


For CMOs to transition to the CMTO role, it is important to build teams with members who are adept at using new technologies for insights and impact, and who have the right combination of creativity, marketing acumen, and technology expertise.

For future CMTOs, it could be worth investing in a “lab approach” by assembling teams with diverse areas of expertise, possibly from different divisions inside an organization. These teams can be tasked with providing insights into what may be possible with technology and to think ahead to what’s next. For example, at Wipro, we’ve assembled the Marketing Innovation and Creativity (MINK) team, which is dedicated to experimenting with new technologies—such as AI for content curation and distribution—and piloting their use in-house before launching
for external use.


The success of this approach goes beyond marketing. Chandra Dhandapani, former CIO and digital transformation leader at Capital One Services (currently chief digital and technology officer at CBRE), launched Capital One’s innovation division, The Garage, a collaborative space for software engineers, product managers, and designers to collaborate to improve customer experience with Capital One products.


Ultimately, winning teams—like Dhandapani’s—are the ones that break the silos, whether in marketing, technology, or both.

About the Author

Wipro Chief Marketing Officer Naveen Rajdev brings to life the brand promise for the digital and technology company. He is leading Wipro’s marketing strategy at a time when the company is making the largest number of acquisitions in its history. Naveen drives marketing beyond a traditional linear, one-dimensional marketing approach to spearhead Wipro’s own digital transformation. Naveen also established a new, unified brand architecture for Wipro after more than two decades, and successfully integrated 12 venture investments and five global acquisitions under the unified Wipro brand.

Naveen passionately drives use of innovative digital solutions, emerging technology, and consumer insights to tell Wipro’s brand’s story and build deeper customer connections. Naveen has also successfully launched two global Innovation Centers to serve as collaborative workspaces with customers, prototype ideas before production, and showcase the latest technological innovations.

Find him at @NuNaveen or on LinkedIn.