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Artificial intelligence, which became a mainstay for many marketing tools in 2018, isn’t just a power booster. It can change the nature of customer targeting and personalization, and, according to a new IBM Marketing Trends report released Monday, it creates the need for someone to fill the “hottest new role” in marketing: Director of Marketing Data.

Feeding the CDP. That position is one of several AI-driven trends cited in the report as “redefining what it means to be a modern marketer.” Others include the acceleration of agile marketing adoption, the final merging of ad tech and martech, the transformation driven by customer-centricity and the improvement of data hygiene and customer trust because of the new consumer privacy regulations.

The new Director of Marketing Data role, IBM forecasts, will work with vendors and internal teams on data integration and create processes for the collection of data into a customer data platform (CDP).

While there are different definitions for CDPs, the idea of a centralized, golden master of centralized customer-related data has taken hold at Oracle, Salesforce, and other major platforms and smaller tool developers. But collecting and then orchestrating that data, often in real time, requires a variety of skills.

Data inside and outside of the marketing department. David Raab, head of the CDP Institute, told me he agrees with IBM’s assessment, although he acknowledged he hasn’t yet heard of anyone with that particular title. While full marketing departments often have data analysts or martech personnel, IBM sees this role as specifically managing the many sources of data that populate CDPs.

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The need isn’t solely fueled by the flood of structured and unstructured data into CDPs, Raab said, but also by the fact that departments outside marketing — such as customer service, operations or product development — want access to advertising and customer data. And marketers want access to non-marketing data, like merchandise sales.

For now, Raab said, this kind of data wrangling is probably being managed by the person or team in charge of marketing technology or by the IT department. That is changing because AI — the use of which has blossomed through the marketing and advertising worlds in the last year — propels a marketer’s ability to create more and more insights — but only if there is enough clean data.

‘Further fragment’ marketing department. But Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystem at inbound marketing platform HubSpot (and conference chair of our MarTech conferences) told me via email that he agrees “with the concept more than the label.”

He added that “most marketing operations and technology leaders have [already] been focused on this data architecture mission as part of their domain.” While there’s “definitely room for specialists here,” Brinker said, it would be better to roll up this position into the larger team rather than “further fragment the modern marketing department.”

Why you should care. The IBM report pointed to a study in February by data warehouse provider MemSQL, which found that 61 percent of 1600 respondents saw the adoption of AI and machine learning as their companies’ most significant data initiative for next year.

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And the intelligent tools for managing marketing data continue to multiply. On Tuesday, for instance, Los Gatos, California startup announced it has raised $15.5 million in Series B financing to automate the extraction and processing of web data with machine learning, directly feeding web page-derived data into analytics platforms. CEO Gary Read quoted IBM as estimating that poor quality data costs U.S. businesses over $3 trillion each year. But even automated tools don’t direct themselves, and a platform such as’s could become another hungry mouth for a marketer to feed — no matter what that person’s role is called.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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