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CMOs are some of the most impressive executives in the history of business, Scott Brinker (aka “Chief MarTec“), said last week.

Why?

Scott Brinker

Above: Scott Brinker

Image Credit: Scott Brinker

Simply put, CMOs have much, much more on their plates. Unlike other top executives — CEOs, CFOs, and others — whose roles and responsibilities have not significantly changed in the past few years, the CMO role has grown from understanding the company’s brand, products, market, and customers to building a technological infrastructure that vastly expands the concept and reality of what “marketing” is today.

“I can’t express enough how much I respect today’s CMO,” Brinker told me. “It’s a great job to have, but boy … it’s an awesome responsibility.”

From a technology perspective there are three levels of that awesome responsibility, said Brinker, who will be speaking at our upcoming CMO-focused GrowthBeat Summit. (Apply for your ticket here.)

The first is figuring out the right organization structure between IT/development and marketing: getting the right mix of skills and clarity of roles is critical. Second, he said, CMOs have to work with that blended group to identify the goal … what the organization wants to change about how it is attracting and keeping customers. And finally, the last step — which many organizations take as their first step — is evaluating and selecting technology infrastructure and tools.

“Once you have a team that is set up to make those decisions, the real hard work is done,” said Brinker. “The evaluation of technology architecture isn’t a piece of a cake, but it’s somewhat more known territory.”

That challenge, of course, is made harder by the thousands of potential choices around tools and technologies. Should a company buy into a full marketing cloud, or analyze a wide variety of tools and attempt to integrate best-of-breed solutions?

Each decision is challenging, and each leads to additional required decisions.

I asked Brinker if his famously exploding martec landscape is going to settle down anytime soon. The answer is probably not, but it is developing a kind of recognizable shape.

launchpad-marketing-cloud“What we’re seeing is almost three tiers of martech companies,” Brinker said. “There are very large players who are consolidating and growing, a middle ground of folks who seem to have escape velocity — they have over $10 million in revenue, and are backed by VCs. Not all of them will make it, but they’re interesting. And below that, there’s an exploding field of new entrants: service companies, other related stakeholders, and pieces of software.”

One of those in the “exploding field” is the simple/cheap omnichannel space, which we’ve studied in our marketing clouds report, found some examples of, and continue to see popping up.

That field also includes a lot of companies and products that haven’t achieved escape velocity, but continue to hang around, thanks to cloud economics, which boils down to being cheap to run.

“Thanks to the economics of cloud software … entrepreneurs who build small solutions can keep things running with a very small amount of capital,” Brinker said. “A lot of these things that are bubbling up face tremendous challenges, but are pretty robust.”

The question for CMOs, is, of course: Are they getting better at their very challenging jobs? The CMO is a famously short-tenured position, with a common four-year expiry date that has only recently seen some kind of extension.

“I think as a group they are,” said Brinker. “We’ve talked to an awful lot of CMOs … there’s probably only a handful of people in the world who have achieved nirvana, but many are achieving an awful lot.”

Brinker will be speaking at GrowthBeat Summit in Boston, June 1-2, on both the wide landscape of marketing technology and how CMOs can make sense of it all. Apply for your ticket here.

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