Data is driving new job roles for marketers

The role and remit of marketing professionals is continuing to blur. As Marketing Week reported earlier this year, a series of big brands are changing their marketing structures to account for new business conditions such as the explosion of big data and the rising power of the customer, with new titles like chief customer officer emerging to replace the CMO and different functions merging or separating depending on the brand.

This trend shows no sign of abating. Last week, for example, the role of eBay’s top UK marketer Sarah Calcott was enhanced to a new position of senior director of operations. While Calcott will retain oversight of marketing, she now takes on extra responsibility for the buyer and seller experience and for all customer support issues. Diageo, meanwhile, is also seeking to create more “integrated shopper journeys” by aligning its sales and marketing functions more closely.

Such tinkering with roles and responsibilities suggests that the skills needed to succeed in marketing are becoming ever wider. As positions change and terms like ‘digital’ are phased out in favour of an all-encompassing definition of marketing, job applicants need to display a broad set of abilities if they are to succeed. While this might seem bewildering or even overwhelming, the common tenet that marketers must learn to accept is the overriding importance of data.

The Diageo restructure, for example, will require both marketing and sales professionals within the organisation to link offline and online customer data together more effectively in order to boost sales and ensure marketing investments are more targeted. The emergence of the chief customer officer role at organisations such as Tesco, Asda and Shop Direct also demonstrates the elevation of data marketing and customer insight to board-level positions.

Nissan’s marketing boss Roel de Vries recently claimed that he would be happy to see the word digital disappear completely, arguing that brands should focus on integrating their marketing channels and making communications more consistent. The same could be said of data. Once the preserve of the IT department or specialist data marketers, it is now the lifeblood of all customer-centric marketing and the constant factor in an increasingly fluid jobs market.


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