SapientNitro Is Redefining the Role of the CMTO With Its Own University
Tired of searching for the next generation of chief marketing officers with skills in technology, SapientNitro’s global chief technology officer, Sheldon Monteiro, decided to build his own chief marketing technology officer (CMTO) university.
A disconnect of communication between technologists and creatives enticed Monteiro to initiate the CMTO program, as he felt that this was causing a breakdown in storytelling across the industry. A recent SapientNitro survey for example, found that just 26 percent of today’s marketing technologists have degrees in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field.
Monteiro believes that the university provides the education needed to create a new generation of CMTOs that are well rounded with a firm grasp on technology, enterprise, advertising, and front end. "We’re living in a world where consumers expect a seamless experience," Monteiro says. "Brands that are not making seamless storyscapes are starting to look like the odd person out."
The agency is now celebrating the second year of its specialized university program. In its inaugural year, 20 students, all senior employees of the company, were chosen from more than 300 who were eligible to participate in the intensive, year-long training program, culminating in a conference in Bangalore, India.
Monteiro says the handful SapientNitro chose to participate in the program have one thing in common: a drive to take risks.
Over the course of a year, each student must take on a major independent study project, guided by mentors like Monteiro. The project must "fuse art and technology" to solve an industry problem.
Monteiro hopes his graduates will solve communication problems both within SapientNitro and with clients by "speaking about the bulk of a creative idea in the same way they can speak to a tech team."
University graduates will also serve as problem solvers.
"I'd be really surprised if more organizations didn't do [a program] like this," says Jonathan Sharp, a recent graduate of the course and the technology and delivery lead for SapientNitro's APAC division in Singapore.
"To be a successful marketing technologist, you will have to be very persuasive in terms of seeing the world differently and crafting messages for others to understand the technology.
"Traditionally, communication is not the strong suite of technologists, so there is a lot of communication in the course."
Vinay Kant, director of technology at SapientNitro APAC, forms part of SapientNitro's 2015 CMTO University class. He believes that as Western markets become more mature and push boundaries in the technological landscape, a similar pattern is emerging in Asia.
"In some cases Asia is more ahead," he says. "So businesses, irrespective of location, need to be thinking about what is best for their clients' digital strategies." And much of that revolves around the communication between technologists and marketers.
The course is structured much like an MBA, with e-meetings once a week and then four intensive four-day meetings at a global rendezvous. Over the year, each student must also take on a major independent study project, guided by mentors like Monteiro and presented at a conference at the end of the term.
Kant’s independent study is in "in-venue experiences" and how technology is changing the ways brands connect with consumers in a physical space, such as Google glasses, sensors, beacons, drones, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Sharp, on the other hand, has been researching advanced technologies and digital media for his final project, which included a 40-minute presentation to 300 SapientNitro colleagues and clients in Bangalore, India, last July.
He believes that CMOs globally are recognizing the power of digital and technology as central not only to marketing strategies, but to their businesses as a whole.
"It's really been about taking a step back and looking at how I do my job on a day-to-day basis," says Sharp of the course. "Technology is core for marketing and innovation for our clients. So to step back and see it is tremendous. It's a very humbling experience."
Adam Williams, a digital marketing recruitment specialist and managing director at Nakama in Hong Kong, says SapientNitro's CMTO University reflects a growing trend for agencies to offer more courses to employees to attract talent, and to develop more marketing and technological skills among staff.
"We’ve already seen the rise of the chief digital officer in large corporate businesses and absolutely, we are seeing clients ask for people from more of a digital or technology background when selecting their next CMO due to the sharp increase in consumer interaction across web and mobile in Asia," he says.
"It’s very important because when you think of traditional marketing talent versus talent classically from a pure technology background, the personality traits can be quite different, so anything that supports the melding of the two in today's world, where technology plays such a major part, can only help both agencies and their clients."
Category: Corporate and social , Education