Human Resources

Emarsys: The rise of the technical CMO

“I was one of the first generation of people raised in Silicon Valley,” says Tomás Puig over the phone from San Francisco. “I grew up learning to code – it was the family craft.” Puig’s father is an engineer with Qualcomm and his sister is also an engineer. However, he knew he didn’t want to pursue a purely technical career, and went into marketing instead.

Tomás Puig has recently been appointed as CMO of commerce marketing specialist, Emarsys. This puts him in an interesting position as he is effectively a top level B2B marketer for a niche technology marketing company… who personally spans both tech and marketing.

Things are changing rapidly in the world of marketing and tech. Gartner’s much quoted prediction that the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017 is rapidly becoming more apparent. And as Ajay Agarwal wrote on Tech Crunch recently: “Marketing is no longer the forgotten stepchild of enterprise software”. This in turn has led to a raft of high profile IPOs and acquisitions of tech marketing platforms such as ExacTarget, Hubspot and Eloqua.

The role of the CMO has clearly diversified. And the rise in predictive analytics, personalisation and behaviour targeting is likely to fuel IDC’s estimate that marketing technology spending will hit $32.4 billion by 2018. An interesting component of all this is how it will impact the problematic area of the technical marketer.

The hardest role to hire in Silicon Valley is marketing, Puig explains – “especially technical marketing”. The problem is attracting the right talent: if you have technical abilities, it is more lucrative to be an engineer early in your career. Yet as you progress up the food chain it can be more ruminative to be a marketer.  

This is extremely hard to tackle. Puig says if any of his marketing team want to go on a technical course then he is happy with that. If tech people want to become marketers on the other hand, it can be trickier. It can be slightly easier in big companies but in startups the “technical side will always cannibalise good talent”.

Puig’s vision for Emarsys is to move from traditional marketing functions to cross-functional teams. He is currently putting Agile principles into place and wants to organise staff around goals and projects rather than hierarchy, as detailed by a Harvard Business Review on digital agency, Big Spaceship. He is also keen to position Emarsys as an innovation company.

“Why has nobody communicated our open source culture?” says Puig - Ruby Rails code is currently available on GitHub. He is also moving the company away from email and onto Slack and other collaboration tools.

“Marketing has always been a marriage of art and technical execution,” says Puig. He feels in this respect nothing has changed and can be seen way back in the old school methods of direct mail.

Yet Puig believes the crucial thing today is that marketers remain experimental and take an “investment portfolio” approach to campaigns. This means looking holistically at the new cheap, experimental platforms and testing them against the older, expensive, established ones for potential quick wins. In essence it means understanding the massive rise in alternate technology and getting to grips with what impact it could have on your brand. 


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