by MarkLives (@marklives) Is there a new C-suite executive on the horizon? Is it time to redefine the role of the CMO, possibly by agreeing that the roles of CMO and CTO are aligning and need some level of collaboration? And can this result in more-effective growth strategies for organisations? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. Next up is Bandile Ndzishe of the Bandzishe Group.

Once tasked with managing communications and brand, the modern CMO’s role has been expanding to include technology, data and impact (ie sales and the bottom line). Where this is not the case, anecdotal evidence suggests shorter tenures, and a loss of prominence and clout at board level.

Bandile Ndzishe

Bandile NzdisheBandile Ndzishe (@BandileNdzishe), the CEO and founder of the Bandzishe Group, is a prolific growth-driver, a seasoned CMO-level marketer and a multifaceted exco- and director-level marketing mastermind. He delivers a broad range of strategic marketing planning and day-to-day marketing management services that guarantee measurable results for businesses.

Being a powerful CMO means having the ability to pursue and have an influence in this unforgiving age of digital disruption, with a direct impact on the bottom line.

The modern CMO embraces the evolution and disruption wrought on the traditional CMO role by innovation, digital marketing, big data, social media, content marketing, storytelling, marketing analytics and seamless omnichannels. They also know how to persuade, influence and sway influencers, opinion-makers, trendsetters and sophisticated consumers to the brand’s favour and advantage.

Today’s disruptive, innovative and evolved CMOs embrace disruption by leading and managing with great questions

We can’t prevent marketing disruption; instead, we can make better decisions about what to do with it. CMOs who continue to survive and excel in marketing deal effectively with disruption. To do so, CMOs need to be able to ask the right, great questions. The time is now for building new marketing capabilities, infused with IT, through finding the right solutions by knowing exactly what to ask. These answers will produce the desired triple bottom-line results.

A small sample of the questions CMOs are facing today:

  • Are the needs for content and new customer experiences top disruptions in their industries? Or are the disruptions something else? How may CMOs lead these identified disruptions from the front, rather than learning to cope with them?
  • How may CMOs effectively evaluate their ability to make data-informed decisions? This is the most-important capability to respond to disruptions — are their skills superior in this regard?
  • Are CMOs taking adequate actions to address disruptions? By these actions, do CMOs achieve measurable impact for their organisations, CEOs and all the brands they market?
  • Have CMOs empowered their marketing teams adequately by thoroughly explaining strategies and how to be effective in getting ahead of the disruptions?
  • What is the CMOs’ renewed understanding of marketing performance measurement and ROI in the disruption era? Does this drive better marketing results?

Today’s disruptive, innovative and evolved CMOs are CEOs-in-waiting

CMOs spend years of their working lives doing exactly what CEOs are supposed to do: raising different companies’ profiles, generating sales and increasing the share price of the companies they work for. In doing so, they continue to create both shareholder and company value. CMOs would thus be very effective and successful as the next generation of CEOs.

A vision without the right leadership will never be translated into results. Above all, CMOs use inspirational leadership to affect an organisation, using internal marketing.

True transformative CMOs are also able to show people where they are, where they’re going and help them close the gap in-between. Once again, CMOs have been able to do this through internal marketing. They lead teams to turn a vision into a business reality that creates value for multiple stakeholders. Doesn’t that sound a lot like what is expected of CEOs?

Today’s disruptive and evolved CMOs are entrepreneurs who run marketing like a business, using the infusion of IT capabilities for supercharged marketing high-performance

By focusing on marketing performance management to deliver profits, evolved CMOs continue to prove that they run marketing like a business. They align marketing metrics with company objectives and demonstrate marketing contribution to the business. They do this because they understand that an organisation exists to make profits, and marketing must account for how its tactics generate profit.

They work with sales and finance to ensure better controls of data inputs and outputs. By using the right technology and aligning marketing data in a way that delivers the required marketing metrics for decision-making, they’re able to leverage this information for better marketing decision-making which impacts sales and delivers the bottom line.

Even if they want to wish the IT function away from marketing, they can’t. To do so is to wish themselves out of their jobs as IT’s become an integral part of the CMOs’ functional expertise. Besides, technology is very pervasive. It superimposes itself on us.

Without it, CMOs can’t perform many marketing tasks demanded by disruption-era marketing. Marketing tech enables customer-engagement workflows and helps with demand generation. There is new tech every day, and this is very daunting, intimidating and confusing at best. But evolved CMOs are increasingly accountable for revenue performance and the use of tech is critical for achieving marketing success.

CMO who don’t embrace, understand and know how to use it will have great challenges aligning marketing tech with marketing strategies. Data management, metrics, integrations and analytics — all require tech capabilities. CMOs who are competent and skilled in tech will find it easy to interpret the data for new insights, without requiring a third party to do so. They won’t struggle to get marketing solutions from big data; they will know what kind of data to access, how to access it and what the organisation has access to.

In the digital era, there are three distinct profiles of CMOs

The CMO insights from the IBM C-suite Study reveal that CMOs fall into one of three distinct categories. The following is an excerpt from the study:

  1. “The Traditionalists (37%) are just setting off. They’re challenged by the data explosion, the growth in social media and the plethora of new channels and devices; have yet to integrate their physical and digital sales and service channels; seldom engage with customers via social networks, and rarely use analytics to extract insights from the customer data they collect.
  2. “The Social Strategists (33%) have passed the first few milestones. They’ve recognised social media’s potential as a vehicle for engaging with customers, and they’re building the infrastructure they’ll need to operate in the social arena. But, like Traditionalists, they haven’t yet begun to exploit the opportunities arising from the data explosion and advanced analytics.
  3. “The Digital Pacesetters (30%), by contrast, are much further down the road. They’re reasonably prepared for the data explosion and well placed to handle the increasingly heavy social and mobile traffic from a growing range of devices. They’re also actively putting the resources required to operate as a fully integrated physical-digital enterprise in place. And they regularly use advanced analytics to generate insights from customer data”.

How to be a disruptive and evolved CMO

  • Be at the forefront of storytelling in a data-driven era
  • Embrace marketing and its relationship with big data. Find out how.
  • Research and find the best methods for understanding the data and marketing analytics
  • Have the right data and analytics available to measure marketing effectiveness
  • Discover the most-effective ways to incorporate the data into marketing processes, decisions and how to use it to impact audiences and enhance business results
  • Draw up a personal list of incredible marketing analytics every CMO should know and live by in 2017 and beyond. My list reaches 100; what about yours?
  • Embrace, understand and seek to know how to use technology by cultivating your IT capabilities. Technology skills form an integral part of the digital era CMO’s functional expertise; there is no escaping this.
  • Change or face extinction (short tenure), which will be preceded by your loss of prominence and clout at board level.

Let’s award our CMO leaders

South African CMOs are seldom celebrated and recognised for the brilliant job they do in capturing markets for the companies they market. South Africa doesn’t have a body that specifically recognises and rewards CMOs for their demonstrated business leadership in building, leading and motivating high-performing marketing organisations, marketing teams and brand leadership. Maybe it’s time we change this.

For a start, let’s recognise SA CMOs ranked next to the brands they market using South Africa’s Top 20 Most Valuable Brands (US$) in 2017 by Brand Finance.

South Africa’s top 20 CMOs in 2017

Rank 2017

Chief marketing officer


2017 Brand value                  (US$m)

2017 Brand rating

Industry group

1 Mapula Bodibe MTN 2.975 AA+ Telecom
2 Mzamo Masito Vodacom 1.767 AA Telecom
3 Nikki Twomey Standard Bank 1.512 AA+ Banking
4 Vacant Sasol 1.385 AA- Oil & Gas
5 Charmaine Huet Woolworths 1.337 AAA- Retail
6 Bobby Malabie Absa 1.335 AA Banking
7 Faye Mfikwe FNB 1,160 AAA- Banking
8 Janet Larsen Investec 1.004 AA Banking
9 Nomsa Chabeli Mazibuko* MultiChoice 985 AA- Media
10 Vacant Nedbank 934 AA+ Banking
11 Andrea Quaye Castle 828 AA- Beverages
12 Neil Schreuder Shoprite 806 AA- Food-diversified
13 Mike Prentice Spar 754 AA- Food-diversified
14 Devan Naidoo Mondi 711 AA- Paper
15 Andrea Quaye Carling Black Label 692 AA Beverages
16 Biren Valodia Mediclinic 659 A+ Healthcare
17 Vuyo Lee Old Mutual 645 AA- Insurance
18 Yegs Ramiah Sanlam 528 AA Insurance
19 Adrian Naude Pick n Pay 495 AA- Retail
20 Stuart Bird (group CEO) Mr Price 456 AA Retail


Corrected at 8.26am at 22 August 2017.

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the ad industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of potential panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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