The Convergence of CDO and CTO: a brief IRCE 2017 recap

Each year The Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) attracts some of the biggest names and brightest brains in the world of eCommerce, and 2017 was no different. We were lucky enough to attend and share some valuable insight into the landscape of current and future industry trends. One of the key takeaways came from Jason Roussos, our CMO at Effective Spend, who presented at this year’s event. Each year, IRCE attracts some of the biggest names and brightest brains in the world of eCommerce, and 2017 was no different.

Roussos has amassed almost two decades of experience in Retail and eCommerce and throughout that time, has seen technology greatly impact the way that companies interact with customers. So much so, in fact, that technology innovation has actually led to the demise of many companies, regardless of the industry. Within recent years, advances such as: The Internet of Things, Big Data, The Cloud, smart devices, and UI (user interface) have vastly changed the ways in which consumers receive information. In turn, this means that retailers have had to adapt and incorporate a different arsenal of tools in order to continue effectively reaching consumers.

Understanding the current gap in I.T. and Marketing

Gap in the I.T. ecosystem

The “Esoteric” nature of technology allows sub par I.T. employees to exist at alarming rates, but within the department, there is currently a real gap between support based functions and new development projects. Their main focus is based on “purity of code” as opposed to questioning the real value of the project to be developed. New business development ideas that come from the department, have no outlet for execution, creating very little incentive in it.

Gap in the Marketing ecosystem

Marketing decisions should be increasingly data driven, yet these departments continue to fail at making profit based pivots. Most companies still see a lack of a real alignment between channels (phone, web, brick and mortar, print). Top marketing talent retention is predicated on technology support, yet, marketing leaders don’t need a technology background to succeed. Departments usually overspend their budget on low cost bid 3rd party vendors, due to lack of (real) I.T. support.

Introducing a Hybrid Structure (I.T./Marketing)

Aligning these two departments will generate company growth/success metrics or goals, as well as a clear understanding on what the teams do, building trust in the organization. The workforce will gain important cross functional skills and new projects will be more transparent, this will generate projects that can be more successful and make employees feel more empowered.

Introducing a CDO

In order to meet the demands of this allocation of resources and the change that technology is driving in the consumer market, companies will need to modify their infrastructure and leverage the benefits of a convergence of the roles of their CMO and CTO; adopting the position of a CDO, or Chief Digital Officer. This hybrid role would touch all aspects of the business, and oversee tasks such as:

  • Introduce Digital Business Models
  • Ownership of Digital Assets and Data
  • Creation of Digital User Experience
  • Ensure Multi-channel delivery of content
  • Transform Business Digitally
  • Recruit Digital Talent
  • Build Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Analytical reports and assessments to stakeholders


A CDO will touch the entire business:


Duties of a Chief Digital Officer:

A few key takeaways

  • Collaboration/Unification of Marketing and Digital is a must for future growth.
  • Management of this new structure takes Executive buy in and communication at the highest level.
  • Hire functional talent, but look for problems solvers.
  • With tools and technology available a lot of old tech/data roles that were assigned to I.T. will be available in Marketing.
  • Projects run within this structure will constantly evolve and snowball and will create incremental value long term.


Partnering with effective spend

As a 3rd party vendor that understand current trends and technology, we are able to help in areas where your company could improve.

A recent example: One of our current clients, a mid size company with over 20 years in the market, started as a brick and mortar and evolved to be exclusively an e-commerce company. The company was lacking in performance on different channels. Effective spend was able to merge their CRM with all digital advertising channel metrics, allowing us to perform real time lead quality optimizations. The result generated gross profit of up to 207%, quality leads up to 71% and true ROAS up to 285%

If your company has considered making the shift into integrating their I.T. and marketing departments and have questions on how to solicit stakeholder buy-in or anything else on this topic, we invite you to send your questions in to Jason at

Convergence of CMO/CTO: CDO

Please download a free copy of the full presentation to learn the benefits of bringing a CDO into your organization, and how effective spend can guide your company into achieving this goal.

Natalia Wulfe

Natalia joined Effective Spend in 2011 and has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the company. She brings more than 15 years of marketing expertise, with both agency and in-house client experience. After 6 years of leading an expert PPC advertising team, Natalia currently runs internal marketing and people operations. A proud Austin native, Natalia holds an advertising degree from UT with a concentration in media planning. She enjoys sharing the wonders of her weird city with her two young daughters.