Marketing to the Future: A CMO’s roadmap to Digital Transformation

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Digital transformation can only really start when a business shifts its entire thinking to put the customer first and collaboration is the key to its success. All internal teams from advertising through to marketing, sales and customer services must work together to nurture a potential customer from a prospect to a sale. Most of us are on board with the concept but there are numerous challenges, both internal and external, to overcome before a business can make this a reality and reap the benefits.

The customer-centric model has been made possible by the explosion of data. We now have greater visibility of our audience than ever before and particularly thanks to the inexorable rise of social media and how we can tie this to browsing behaviours across multiple devices. Add to this the rapid ascendency of the Internet of Things (IoT), data volumes are set to grow further.

Dealing with that data is of course the responsibility of the CMO and this means the role of the CMO is changing. Certainly, if you asked a CMO what their primary charter was ten years ago, you could be pretty safe in expecting most would identify brand awareness or driving perceptions. The situation is very different now : 68% of CMOs view driving growth and revenue as a top priority; and a third (33%) regard it as being their primary mandate. I can’t think of any other role that’s been so significantly altered in such a short space of time. I speak from experience, my job specification is constantly being re-written – once I was just a customer-centric marketer, now I’m a technologist, data scientist and revenue driver!

It’s certainly an exciting time, but I can also appreciate many marketers may feel overwhelmed. CMOs are under growing pressure to take on more and more accountability for driving growth. As such, the objective for today’s CMO is to build a natural, tailored experience that harnesses data representing a complete view of the customer across all channels. From here he or she must then draw actionable insights which deliver creativity and personalisation at scale, to ultimately achieve a segment of one – so, no pressure.

It may come as no surprise to learn that CMO’s spend looks set to outpace that of CIOs in the not too distant future. One sector that has benefited from this is marketing technology (martech) and the average CMO is still swamped with options. To put that in context, if they were to choose best-in-breed options for different functions from different vendors, CMOs will have to work with as many as 24 separate, and generally incompatible, systems to keep a grip on their customer interactions!  Each comes with its own reporting tool, so if you want to have a holistic view of performance across systems, you will need to become a technologist pretty quickly.

There are signs of a growing consolidation in the space with the holy grail being the de-facto integrated platform, but it’s likely to be some time until a victor emerges. One thing is for certain; CMOs cannot afford to wait for this to happen. Audiences are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how, where, and when they engage with brands, this means marketing organisations — and CMOs specifically —will need to have an integrated set of nurture systems with an underlying insight cloud in place to enable real-time collaboration. However, if an organisation wants to meet customers on their own terms, they need to invest in next-gen technologies such as predictive analytics, marketing AI and machine learning (for example).

Adopting a digitally centric business model is, without a doubt, the key to engaging with customers, empowering colleagues, optimising operations, and reinventing products and business models. It is worth bearing in mind this is a systems approach, and it’s not just about technology. Digital transformation necessitates entirely new thinking on the part of the executive team to embrace business models that bring together people, data, and processes to create value for all stakeholders. The cloud presents a single platform to bring these elements together. In doing so, the CMO will be able to unlock new revenue streams, improve the customer experience and, crucially, leverage the collective intelligence of people across the organisation.

Successful marketing operations will be driven by collaboration and the cloud because the opportunities presented by big data, connected things, advanced analytics and A.I. are simply too significant to ignore and will become the driving force of the global economy. Like it or not, this means the role of the CMO is changing and marketers can choose to lead this transformation and gain competitive advantage, or they can be left behind.

It is the combination of the digital transformation of existing firms and disruption from new entrants that is creating the fourth revolution in business. If you want your business to grow, adapt, and evolve to meet the changing needs of your customers and to take advantage of the new business opportunities afforded by new technologies, you will need to think and operate as a digital company.

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