As a marketer, this article is equal parts fascinating and frightening to write.
We’re aware, at least subconsciously, that marketing jobs change over time, just like in all other industries. And as industries evolve, so too do employees’ roles—some becoming commonplace, others going extinct.
So what marketing jobs will become obsolete in the not-so-distant future?
I took to Google to see what others thought the landscape would look like, but I couldn’t find much online other than the posts we see all too frequently—year-end articles that predict next year’s big trend, technology, or other “must-try” techniques.
Chances are, as technology advances and industry leaders continue to innovate, marketing will evolve quite a bit in the next year—but look a decade or two into the future of marketing, and the outlook is much harder to predict. What will we all be focusing on, talking about, writing about, sitting through conference presentations on (will there still be in-person conferences?), researching, debating, and planning our budgets around?
In order to approach a question like this, we need to break our vision down into themes. These themes will help to answer the “why” questions that are inevitable when you’re trying to predict where things are headed. The future is always grounded in the present, so let’s start there.
Marketing as we know it is going to change dramatically over the next two decades. Today, the lines we draw between marketing, IT, customer service, and other teams are blurring, and this trend is accelerating. With this shift, more people in the company—not just those on the marketing team—will become marketers, and marketing automation will make it all possible.
This blurring of department lines will cause a dramatic shift in the roles and reporting structures of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and I believe will lead to the elimination of the more recent Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO).
As employees in marketing, technology, and service delivery increasingly collaborate and focus even more on the customer’s needs, we will see a pretty substantial C-level shift.
I believe CTOs and CIOs will be integrated into the marketing technology fold, eliminating the need to divide marketing from technology and removing the need entirely for the CMTO. With marketing trending ever more technical, I think we may even see some CMOs reporting to CTOs or CIOs, where marketing becomes a function of the organization’s overall technical delivery strategy.
We’ll also see a meteoric rise of the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in the coming two decades or so. As marketing and technology blend together, that leaves a gap for customer experience. Because marketing really is more about experience than pushing out messages to potential customers, the CXO role will reinforce this shift.
Here are some true statements today that I think back this prediction up:
In twenty years, marketing won’t just be marketing anymore, but rather, it will rebrand itself around customer experiences and the CXO will be leading the charge. Marketing will evolve to blend more seamlessly with technology, content, and experiences. Sure, some functions as we know them will still exist in some capacity, but I think many companies will realign their marketing efforts around something larger.
You know all of those cozy, high-paying digital marketing job titles we see all the time on job sites? Yeah, well they’re going away.
Okay, the titles are going to go away, but the work will still be around. “Digital” jobs in marketing will just become “jobs” in marketing. What is now still a relatively specialized skill set will become something that’s almost second nature to the next generation of marketers.
My son won’t strive to become a digital marketing manager, because everyone knows how to market in the digital future. He won’t be managing a team of specialized digital marketers, but he will be managing a team of marketers that know digital.
Here is my list of digital marketing job descriptions that will be gone in 20 years:
What happens to more traditional marketing roles when everyone’s gone digital? Not all marketing will be digital—you’ll still see niche non-digital specialist roles like a “pre-press specialist” stick around, but not in great quantity.
Niche roles are around us today, and I can give you a first-hand example. I worked with a developer a few years ago that had been a programmer longer than I was alive. He made a living maintaining a legacy computer system written in Fortran, a computer programming language developed in the 1950s, but that was kept alive in legacy systems for decades after its creation.
Traditional marketers (possibly me) will be the Fortran developers of marketing in a decade or so. Traditional marketing will still have its place, but I predict upwards of 90 percent of marketing efforts will be focused on digital. Us old-schoolers will be around to keep the legacy systems alive and fill some niche roles as the industry moves forward.
So far I’ve covered marketing as a whole, marketing jobs I believe will disappear, and roles that I think may stick around. Now it’s time to offer some roles that I think will be born out of the marketing transformation.
A new marketing team is on the horizon. That new team is focused on two big areas: the customer and data. I believe those focal points will garner a few new roles we’ve yet to see. Here’s what my new marketing team looks like:
We have technical architects, data architects, campaign architects, and product architects. I believe one of the first roles we will begin to see emerge will be the Customer Experience Architect.
With customer experience at the forefront in the future of marketing, someone must lead teams in conceiving and building experiences that not only speak to the customer but also differentiate the brand from its competition.
The Customer Experience Architect will work closely with the emerging roles of Customer Experience Officer (CXO) and the roles you’ll see below to truly place the customer at the center of the organization’s marketing efforts.
I love the notion of this role. Everyone is already talking about putting the customer first. We all want to do what’s best for the customer. The problem is that we don’t always know what the customer wants or what is in their best interest. At times, we can ask them, but far more frequently we can’t, and we’re left just guessing.
The marketing team of the future will have a secret weapon at its disposal. I foresee the role of a Customer Experience Psychologist specializing in predicting and modeling customer behavior, focusing less on educated guesses and more on science.
The Customer Experience Psychologist would work with the Customer Experience Architect, data scientists, and with machine learning technology specialists to fine tune all the personas and sub-personas to tailor messaging and experiences to fit customer needs at every touch point and in every medium, leading to a quality of user experience never seen before.
We already are starting to see data scientists emerge as a role within organizations with large quantities of data at their disposal, especially in data mining and predictive analytics capacities. I think a new role will take shape that is built to specialize in data analysis for the purpose of building better customer experiences in the coming decades.
This role would work in tandem with the Customer Experience Architect and Customer Experience Psychologist, in order to create a complete view of the customer. Companies will find that they can’t live without these roles because plain-Jane experiences just won’t cut it anymore. The combination of data-driven decisions with psychology-reinforced experiences will become a serious differentiator in the market because even more so in the future, customers, without hesitation, will discard experiences that are anything less than timely, relevant, and interesting.
Some of my predictions may be bold, while others are based on the writings on today’s walls. Either way, I believe the future will show us that talk of customer-centric marketing won’t work and that organizations will need to completely shift their focus, leading to new opportunities, new roles, new alliances, and hopefully better experiences.