Once upon a time not so long ago, the Internet belonged in IT. I’ve experienced that myself – when I was running easyJet‘s Web presence worldwide I was in IT, not the Marketing or Commercial department. The effects of this are still being felt – any Marketing exec will tell you that the IT department doesn’t get it, that it slows the company down and adds way too much cost.
Digital Marketing evolved, from publishing information online to attracting visitors, selling and servicing and finally transforming the organisational structure and employing complex algorithmic optimisation programs to extract every last bit of value from each customer interaction. This acted as a catalyst for the stronghold of IT to falter: people who are as comfortable with technology as with Marketing and business (people like me) are now sought after by Marketing departments, keen on being able to influence and even lead the technical decisions and platforms underpinning their ability to deliver what organisations expect them to do.
A real power shift is under way in business across the globe. Marketing-centric, SaaS and Open Source technologies are giving marketeers access to tools infinitely better than those available from walled-garden-centric, risk-averse CTOs. These technologies, and the influx of new tech-savvy blood into Marketing departments are giving the CMO the skills to understand their digital estate and the tools to develop it without involvement from IT.
This is good news, but poses the question of what, if any, will the role of the CTO be in a Marketing driven, cloud enabled world. The answer is there will be one, but it is not clear yet what that may be. Interesting times ahead!