How to be a successful CMO?

Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian

The era of digital transformation is upon us, and companies in South East Europe need to adjust their businesses accordingly. Communication has always been the key to successful business, but in today’s world companies cannot allow themselves to be only creative communicators, they also have to be smart communicators. And this is exactly what digital transformation enables.

The evolution of the market, driven by new tech, necessitates the evolution and redefining of the role of marketing, as technologies are no longer reserved for IT departments but impose themselves as a fundamental input tool for communication. Technologies have been a means for automating the marketing process and delivering messages for a long time, but now they feed decision making and provide the data necessary for intelligent communication that targets the right people at the right time, with the most relevant content. With such developments, the key role that needs to evolve is that of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). They no longer have the luxury of saying they are not tech savvy, but have to embrace it and wield it in order to transform their companies from digital resisters into digital disruptors and thus ensure the success of their companies and brands. However, IBM’s study “Insights from the Global C-suite Study – The CMO perspective” has shown that there is only a small percentage of CMOs who have both strong reputations as leading innovators and superb financial track records. This small group of so called “Torchbearers” is striving to make their organizations more digitally literate and is also far better prepared to manage the data explosion and an increasingly complex marketing mandate.

The first and foremost step in the inevitable transformation and evolution is adjusting to the rise of the connected consumer – the digital native. According to a survey conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) among CMOs in SEE, increasing customer satisfaction and experience is a priority for 95% of respondents, but ensuring this customer satisfaction calls for a strategic, data driven approach and a digital pacesetter CMO. Such a CMO fully understands what’s possible via new technology, keeps pace with the latest developments and promotes digitalization within the company.

In the implementation of changes necessary for the transformation, they will face a number of challenges, one of which is the scope at which change is happening. Developments are spread across the business and across the different levels within organizations, which calls for strong leadership. According to the IDC study, 40% of marketing leaders in SEE point to lack of leadership and limited top-level buy-in as one of the main obstacles to achieving their business goals.

Another pressing issue is cyber security, due to the increasing amount of customer data being collected and stored and the proportionate rise of security attacks. In this light, IDC expects that investments in IT security in SEE will increase by 47% over the next five years.  Lack of necessary information to make marketing decisions was also identified as an important challenge by 43% of the marketing leaders in SEE surveyed by IDC. As the main obstacle to data integration IDC identified organizational silos and the dependence on systems that explain yesterday, rather than anticipate tomorrow, as well as corporate cultures that resist the truth when it goes against tradition.

Last but not least is the lack of digital mindset that is hindering businesses in SEE. As pointed out in the study, data-driven marketing calls for an environment that encourages and leverages digital interactions, connections, relationships and tools. The characteristics of a digital mindset are curiosity, risk-raking, digital experimentation, utilization of statistical skills, failure management and adaptability. Such a mindset is comfortable dealing with ambiguity, occasional chaos and rapid change.

The question is, what should be the focus of CMOs in answering the above challenges, and transforming their organization into a digital disruptor? The IDC survey proposes several steps that should be taken now, over the next two years, and in the long run.

The advice for the CMO of today is to become strictly customer centric and understand the best practices of their industry. This calls for making an inventory of available data sources and focusing on digital content marketing. Over the next two years, companies must build a digital mindset and conduct the transformation from silos to a systems model, as well as experiment with predictive analytics that will make their business futureproof. Also, the experience that is offered to the customer must be consistent and across channels, with the employment of the best-of-breed marketing automation platforms. As for the long term, companies need to scale up their successful initiatives, provide a fully personalized experience and become constantly disruptive.

All this calls for CMOs that are not only Mad Men, but also Math Men according to Vatroslav Škare, Professor of Marketing at the University of Zagreb. The opportunities that technology brings to marketing today and the availability of such an abundance of data that can drive your intelligent marketing decisions are the reason why Škare believes that the era of digital is actually a golden era for marketing. The rise of digital and access to data does not mean that creativity is to be neglected, which is what most traditionalists fear, it means that creativity has now become smarter. According to Škare, the successful CMO of today is one who understands and uses technology as a set of tools that help tell a story, but who also has the heart to create a story that resonates with customers.

The entire IDC Market Spotlight  – Data Driven Marketing in SEE study and more whitepapers are available here.