As Chief Marketing Technology Office at Atlanta-based ARKE, Chris Spears leads the strategy and innovation team. The brand experience consultancy specializes in strategic implementations of marketing technology solutions.

“We’re building on our roots in technology and experience design to drive the next generation of experience focused businesses. By leveraging the right people, processes, marketing technologies, and data, we produce measurable results,” Spears said.

Spears sets the direction for clients, looks for ARKE’s next opportunities and helps clients realize measurable ROI through marketing technology.

But let’s start with the basics. Today he answers four fundamental questions about the roles of Chief Marketing Technologists, the growth of marketing technology, and the reasons why clients need to start with strategy rather than marketing technology.

What does a Chief Marketing Technologist do?

Spears: We get to do everything. We’re in the conversation when marketing is trying to come up with that strategic plan. We work with the IT teams to understand the systems and capabilities they believe they need to put in place to support marketing.

We wear data scientist hats to figure out what data we need, where it’s coming from, and how we’re going to leverage it.

And we bring all that functionality, ideas, and systems together in a way that supports revenue generation for the business.

Where did the term Chief Marketing Technologist originate?

Spears: Scott Brinker coined the title nearly a decade ago because he said technology decisions and marketing strategy were intertwined. The term gained traction when Gartner announced the CMO was going to spend more money on technology than the CIO.

I don’t know if that prediction has completely come to fruition, but I don’t think you can avoid the fact there is a tremendous amount of technology and technology diversity required to run not just digital marketing, but customer experience as a whole.

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How is the role of Chief Marketing Technologist evolving?

Spears: As technology expands, Chief Marketing Technologists will become more and more embedded in marketing. This is a necessity because marketing technologies are growing exponentially.

By Scott Brinker’s last count, there are more than 5,000 marketing technology solutions. We found the sheer numbers of companies can leave customers overwhelmed.

So we encourage them to focus them on the fundamentals. That means asking questions like,  “How well are you executing your web strategies, your marketing automation and demand generation strategies, your CRM and sale strategies?”

We believe in maximizing the capabilities of foundational tools before we start chasing some of the shiny objects that are out there — the ones that promise to completely change our world and make everything better for us.

Why is technology only a partial answer to marketing problems?

Spears: Technology is easy to buy. You can put it on a credit card and immediately start using it. But nine times out of 10, organizations buy technology before a strategy has been deployed. And too often that results in disappointment.

Why wasn’t it the silver bullet? Why haven’t we solved all of our problems?

It’s because that tool didn’t have a strategy component. It’s not dictating how or what your business is going to do with it.

When we help a digital marketing team or a marketing organization craft specific use cases, it’s much easier to get buy-in from the C-Suite. Because then we’ve moved beyond a solution to a hypothetical problem. Then we’re talking about something with clear business value.

Noreen Seebacher is the content evangelist at Arke, where she researches, writes and continues her long career in news reporting as a brand journalist. Noreen lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her husband, her dog and four formerly homeless cats.