The CMO is dead, long live the CMTO!

The CMO or the chief marketing officer has held sway for a very long time now, overseeing the marketing and communication mandate and spends for brands. They were the top boss when it came to approving marketing campaigns and budgets. The buck stopped at their desk.

Not anymore, CMO is passé, the new age of marketing and communicating in a globally digital world calls for a new role, a new title - the CMTO - Chief Marketing Technology Officer. It means someone who understands marketing technology from a strategy brand perspective and not from an operational perspective.

The power of the internet has made many traditional platforms redundant (if not already, most will become redundant in a few years from now) as an increasing number of consumers get hooked on the online world. Conversations have moved online a long time ago and commerce followed suit as well, and now with the rapid penetration of internet enabled hand phones, we have a whole new generation that has skipped the desk top mode of engaging with the worldwide web.

Technology is causing a big disruption in the way brands can communicate and engage with consumers. But this, fast changing landscape is leaving many traditional marketing professionals (CMO, brand managers, product managers, category managers and the many other avatars in corporate organisations ) clueless on how to handle this new digital animal.

What we are seeing is a 'digitally challenged' community of brand communication professionals who have turned to technology professionals for help, so now we have so-called digital communication experts who are guiding our digitally challenged community through the technology enabled marketing channel maze.

It has become the case of the 'TAIL WAGGING THE DOG', which means that a community that does not understand marketing, branding, and communication is guiding experts in brand strategy on how to use technology to connect with consumers.

Why is this not going to work? Well, for starters, the technology-led strategy gives you all the hows’ of digital media strategy. How to use FB or how to use Twitter or how to use LinkedIn but what is not answered is the 'WHY' bit of the digital puzzle. And the CMO and his breed is definitely not asking this question or many more such questions because the CMO and the brand professionals are 'Digitally Blind', while they seem to know the new age media technology platforms and are also using it in their personal lives, somehow that knowledge is not getting translated into business or brand communication when it comes to Social Media communications.

There is no distinction between paid social media strategy and organic social media strategy or for that matter to engage and grown a community that brands need to drive in the social media space. Most of the time you get 'page boost' spends and 'buy like' strategies to grow social media presence for brands. This is a path to committing 'Social Media Suicide' when it comes to brand conversations in the social media space.

That is why you need a CMTO, a chief marketing technology officer; one who understands the importance of new age media and communication technology and more than that sees the need of using it in the right proportions and also integrating that into all his communication touch points like activation, or events or launches or consumer promotions or other campaigns.

More than that, the CMTO needs to separate the paid forms of social media communication from the organic way of building the community. He can then use spends where needed with clear cut deliverables and leverage community engagement to boost brand visibility (rather than boost pages on FB).

Bottom line is, the CMTO needs to understand social media is for communities, conversations and connecting in an engaging and empowering way, it is not a place to hard sell with page boost and buying likes or similar such strategies.

Ramsubramaniyan R is chief communication architect , Axiom C+S

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