By 2020, CMOs -- with by-then bigger technology budgets than CIOs or CTOs -- will have the ability to take charge of the tech agenda for their companies, says Jeffrey Rayport, the marketing expert who coined the term "viral marketing." But they first must recognize and seize the opportunity. True, FleishmanHillard's online magazine, talks to Rayport about what commerce and marketing will look like as this decade progresses and what that means for marketers. Here is an excerpt of that interview:
TRUE: What will marketing look like in 2020?
Rayport: By the time we get to 2020, we will be in a world where we will be looking to products themselves to be channels for distribution of marketing messages and marketing communications. It's not just an Internet of Things from the standpoint of ubiquitous sensors and the ability to measure everything. It's an Internet of Things in the sense that every 'thing' is capable of having a conversation with a consumer. The things we sell will become very important, if not primarily important, as marketing channels for everything that a brand represents or has to say in terms of values, mission and story to consumers. We will have completed the process we are currently going through of reorganizing the world of commerce around consumers and their needs, putting them firmly in the driver's seat. That's a completely different world from the one in which we have lived for decades in which corporations have sat at the center and orchestrated everything around them, and frankly, I think we're not going to recognize [it] by 2020 based on what we know today.
TRUE: Like Siris living all over your house and everything you own talking to you?
Rayport: That would be the image.
TRUE: So will the role of technology in marketing continue to increase at the rate it has been through the decade?
Rayport: By 2020, the role of technology from the standpoint of brands, marketing and communications will have two attributes. Observation one is that it will touch absolutely everything that we do full stop, embedded in everything we do, a platform for everything we do, an enabler for everything we do in terms of the way brands interact with consumers. And observation two: We will no longer be talking about technology. Technology will become ultimately embedded in our lives, ultimately powerful when it actually disappears. Like the way we have come to take electricity coming out of the wall for granted. That may be scary for many, many companies and many, many brands that are today realizing the necessity of running very hard simply to catch up with what is already happening in the lives of their consumers. [They] are really struggling with how to respond to the pace of technological change, and from that point of view, the ability to begin to live a technology story, to be able to manage technology from a marketing standpoint is something big companies need to learn, [so they can] move in the ways startups and famously agile, smaller companies have been able to move. Marketers are going to have to become much more literate than we are today in the new forms of technology—and because of the pace at which technology is changing that's a very profound challenge.
TRUE: What will the role of the CMO be in this new marketing universe?
Rayport: Gartner has famously predicted over the last few months that by 2017 chief marketing officers will have larger budgets for technology than the chief information officers and the chief technology officers in their organizations. That is a huge statement in terms of a shift of power in favor of marketers. But it also speaks volumes about what marketers need to learn over the next three years. [It's] not just about technology's implications for marketing, but literally [it's about] how do marketers become managers of technology, become drivers of innovation in technology such that they are setting the technological agenda. Marketers are going to have to master that for the simple reason that if they really go where it looks as if the world is going, CMOs are going to be the czars within corporations who are actually determining the technology agenda for their brands.