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Buffeted by globalization, regulation, politics, technology and other market forces, "marketing" stands ready to reclaim its rightful role as the voice of the customer and generator of business value through brand, loyalty, and customer management. But not all marketers are ready–or want to–take this leap into the future. Marketing is at a crossroads–what should be the future role of marketing?

The other day, I had the privilege of interviewing some marketing candidates. In my interviews I always like to leave my questions open ended and ambiguous so that I can see the thought processes of a candidate. I'm not looking for a "right answer" per se, I'm simply more interested in how a candidate thinks–out loud–and how they come to a conclusion.

In that spirit I asked a candidate, "What is the future of marketing?"

Granted, this isn't the type of question that one can be prepared for, but the candidate gathered himself and presented a cogent answer. I believe, as marketers, we should all be able to answer this question.

CIO Magazine has attempted–through editorial and articles from various writers to answer that question–for CIOs. Labeling 2008 the "The CIO's Time to Shine", CIO Magazine argues the future role of the CIO will change from "technology manager" to "business strategist" and agent of strategic change enabled by technology.

Forrester also has weighed in on the topic and coined the phrase: "Business Technology" (BT) where the 21st century CIO will be a driver of process transformation, innovation, and competitive advantage through the alignment of technology to business challenges.

The role of the CIO is changing from "aligning" to "synchronizing" with the business. Are there any parallels between the transformation of the CIO's role and changes that should occur in the "marketing" function? Ann Handley was kind enough to give me a forum on the MarketingProfs site to discuss my take on this topic, "Preparing for the Future: How the CIO and CMO Must Collaborate to Win" and now I'd love to hear from you.

* If the CIO role is indeed changing–do you see parallels between where the CIO is going and where the CMO needs to be?
* Are we destined to simply manage and execute the tactical marketing plan and be "king or queen of tradeshows"–or will marketing of the future be so much more?
* Where is the marketing function now, and where do we need to be in the future or stated another way, what is the future of marketing?

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Paul Barsch directs services marketing programs for Teradata, the world's largest data warehousing and analytics company. Previously, Paul was marketing director for HP Enterprise Services $1.3 billion healthcare industry and a senior marketing manager at global consultancy, BearingPoint. Paul is a senior contributor to MarketingProfs, a frequent columnist for MarketingProfs DailyFix, and has published over fifteen articles in marketing, management, technology and healthcare publications. Paul earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He and his family reside in San Diego, CA.