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. First up is Prakash Patel of Fogg.

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.

Prakash Patel

Prakash PatelPrakash Patel (@PrakashPatel_1), a seasoned strategist and data-driven digital marketer, is managing director of Fogg Cape Town. Previously, he was CEO of Prezence and chief digital officer of FCB/Mesh. Prior to moving to SA, Prakash spent over 18 years at some of the world’s largest and independent data and digital agencies in the UK. Now he is trying to keep up with tomorrow today and helping brands add value in the #TraDigital era.

Is it a perfect marriage or a marriage of convenience? Either way, a marriage is in the horizon.

Today’s digitally savvy customers are far more-sophisticated, -demanding, -hyper-connected, anywhere and everywhere with their experiences underpinned by technology. This has changed their relationship with brands, where they are now in charge, and we, as marketers and brands, need to be and play where they are — regardless of what technology, platform or device they are using. This huge responsibility has most fallen mostly under the remit of both the CMO and CIO in today’s age of the customer.

Age of the customer

So, it’s with no surprise that the results in a survey conducted by Forrester quoted “what’s increasingly apparent is that to succeed in the age of the customer, CEOs depend upon their CMO and CIO to connect customer insights to business outcomes through business technology — the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.”

But I believe that the question is not only about how organisations and C-suite executives need to re-evaluate their roles but, more importantly, how they need to collaborate like never before to ride the waves of uncertainty for times of possibilities in aligning their goals using integrated technology, ICT, digital and data.

The Forrester report also looked at the partnerships and relationship between CIOs and CMO.

“Empowered customers have an unprecedented ability to make rapid decisions, weigh and review products with peers, and provide feedback in social channels anywhere in the world. Brand value is now tied to product experiences and the outcomes they deliver.”

In response to the survey, it’s not all gloom and doom, as technology harnesses the power of change and is the opportunity for marketers to rethink their internal business strategies from the top down. Like it or not, CMOs and marketing have found themselves in a unique position, in that technology and digital have become a prerequisite of marketing, whether it’s through websites, mobisites, apps, social media, emarketing, hardware, data, insights, databases or customer platforms — technology underpins and drives it all. Through this, the CIO and CMO’s strategic partnership is becoming imperative in developing and executing integrated marketing strategies, regardless of technology, processes, platforms or communications.

The role hasn’t necessarily changed but is evolving

It is worth noting that the role of the CMO hasn’t necessary changed in managing communications and brand, but more that it is evolving to now include newer areas of engagement that appear throughout the total customer experience that needs to be able to be navigated through.

Collaboration between the CMO and CIO is simply critical. However, the real challenge? The tasks and cooperation required to make the collaboration happen between these roles and departments. At the end of the day, no role or department owns the customer. It needs to be owned by the whole business internally outwards.

Customer centricity and success is also about taking an inside-out view.

Otherwise, how may a business be customer-centric if its own department’s or roles are fragmented and working in silos? The same customer-centric thinking and approach need to be applied internally within all businesses. It’s no longer good enough (or affordable), to think about who owns what; rather, how may they be more-effective together as partners to truly achieve a customer-centric approach from the inside out? If we wait to see who wins this battle internally, then the real battle will be lost externally.

Collaborative partnership charter

Today, CMOs and CIOs must not only seek, rely, appreciate and understand technology and data from a customer’s perspective but understand the total customer experience in where and how they play across a multitude of platforms, devices, technologies and touchpoints — generating billions of records, datasets, impressions and CTAs.

Another necessary reason that they need to collaborate is the rise of IT and big data. Marketing can’t be done without understanding technology, and IT can’t build systems or databases that aren’t fit for marketing. And, in between this, is the vast amount of data being generated, where both the CMO and CIO are looking at how to turn all this data into growth and revenue together.

Their combined expertise is too vast in my opinion (depending on your organisational size) to be owned by one or the other, and a collaborative approach could be your competitive advantage in connecting all of the dots at these times of uncertainty.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” —Albert Einstein

This newly formed allegiance or partnership can only be a win-win situation, with the biggest winner the customer with greater enhanced quality customer experience.

Is three a crowd? The digital transformation charter

It’s said that “two’s company; three’s a crowd.” But, in my opinion, the new marketers are also digital- and technology-savvy evangelists, who not only understands digital parse (eg web, mobile, search, platforms etc.) but acknowledge and understand the principles of digital transformation and see it as a strategic business imperative to survive in today’s hyper-connected world.

To this end, I believe there is room for another person in this marriage, who may supplement the traditional CMOs role and help build a bridge between CMOs and CIOs: let’s welcome, in the age of the customer and digital and the new C-suite executive, the chief digital officer. This is a relatively new executive role that is helping brands meet the demands of today’s digitally savvy customers, new emerging technologies and digital transformation. It’s now one of the most-demanding and scarce roles at executive level required by any company and not only restricted to brands — you just have to see a recent job advert by the City of London for recruiting for its first-ever chief digital officer to work alongside the Mayor of London.

To be successful today, in my opinion, businesses require an array of experts and executives working towards a shared customer-centric vision and experience, who bring along their own in-depth specific knowledge and expertise from traditional marketers through to technologists, digitalists, data, CRM, planners and strategists — who are collectively able to navigate through the complexities of today’s connected and technically advanced world we live in.

In summary

The CMO’s role has involved with greater responsibility and expertise around understanding and appreciating technology, digital, data and analytics and, at the same time, the CIO’s role has also evolved, requiring greater customer focus and marketing integration. The collaboration between CMOs and CIO is inevitable to the success of any customer-focused brand to achieve a powerful partnership and marriage, formed on a foundation of a shared, integrated vision.

However, the evolution and change won’t just stop there; the future C-suite will no longer simply include the ‘usual suspects’ and will give rise to the digital executive — and maybe customer experience — officers to create an even more formidable C-suite partnership.

A marriage made in marketing heaven and another step towards marketing for today’s customers.

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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