From one war to another – how front-end developers are about to become the most highly prized assets in a marketing team……


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A war is ending.

A truce has been called in the twenty-year battle between marketing and IT for the territory of digital experience: Enterprise Architects are turning IT departments into business consultancies and marketing now takes on frequently the development capacities for digital. As a result, growth-hacking and T-shaped marketers made it into mainstream marketing teams in 2019. In 2020, marketing will go one step further and include front end engineers into their teams.

But because of this, another war stirs. The war for front-end developer talent is going to become incredibly fierce, incredibly quickly. And this may actually define the success of many businesses.

The lessons of history

Like all wars, there are lessons in history. For this particular battle, those lessons can be found in Photoshop. 20 years ago, marketing made leaflets. Marketers looked at what topics would be interesting for the audience and what brand feel they wanted to portray. For the layout however, businesses used agencies. And when those agency relationships didn’t work as fast as they were needed, businesses hired the first photoshop guys internally. The resulting war for talent, ideas and execution defined marketing in many industries and the impact is still felt today.

Now, leaflets and brochures are gone. Largely, at least. The main channel of communication today is digital media. And the photoshop guys of digital media are front-end developers.

A different digital battlefield

It is also worth noting that the ‘digital’ battlefield itself is changing. Businesses used to have templates and drag-and-drop teasers on a homepage in a content management system. That worked in the world of desktop web. Now, businesses and consumers live in the world of mobile experiences, smart spaces, connected products. As a result, desktop websites will continue to lose importance year over year.

2020 is the year marketing disciplines will need to be ready for this fight. Modern content management systems don’t do templates anymore. They focus on content delivery, speed and versatility to deliver into these new channels and experiences. They cater to the philosophy of growth hacking and constantly testing assumptions.

This new way of working starts with these new channels, increasingly employs personalization in real-time AND tests and refines customer interactions. In this context, front-end developers will become the highly prized special forces that can define marketing success.

There is no way around this. Marketing needs front-end developers if the business wants to deliver the latest and greatest digital experiences to customers. With digital experience being the main differentiator, a business cannot afford to fall behind. There will undoubtedly be casualties, but to the victor will go the spoils of keenly engaged customers ready and willing to engage with a business in a variety of ways.

Sonja Kotrotsos
Sonja Kotrotsos heads up the EMEA Go-To-Market for award-winning headless CMS vendor Contentstack. A DXP (digital experience platform) industry expert, Sonja has helped enterprise customers get the optimal return on experience over the last two decades. She is a mother of three and lives near Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


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