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Chief Marketing Officer: Ally or Rival?

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Business HandshakeThe position of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has undergone tremendous scrutiny over the past few years. The role in and of itself – is it of value, should it be rebranded, what are its long term prospects and the relationship with the Chief Information Officer (CIO)? Both CMO and CIO have had their boundaries shifted as they overlap and demand greater collaboration and integration.

The role of CMO is evolving alongside that of the CIO as the availability of information and the capability of technology influence how the organisation grows, communicates and collaborates, both internally and externally. Traditionally the CMO was responsible for brand and advertising, a limited view which is no longer relevant. Now they are the custodian of the customer experience which is undeniably the single most important facet of business in an era where the power of the customer can dictate the potential success or failure of an organisation. The Harvard Business Review article “Do CMOs really add value?” has found that companies with a CMO perform 15% better, on average, than companies without one.

CMOs have to manage a diverse set of competencies to lead the vision and strategy of the organisation. They have to create focus and clarity in an increasingly complex market environment, and ensure that the primary goal of their strategy is to create value for their customers. CMOs need to leverage data and analytics to design improvements in the ways in which customers are engaged, serviced and retained in a multi-channel environment, and drive insight and growth for the business. Finally, they need to ensure brand relevance while creating compelling brand experiences and innovative customer experience capabilities.

The lines between IT and marketing are blurring and the internal roles need to collaborate to realise maximum benefit. The CMO should be involved with any technology which influences, enables or analyses the customer experience and has to co-own the technology landscape. This will help to build the focus and synergy required to achieve maximum value for business and customer.

Technology is no longer the enigma it once was. It is an integral part of every organisation and is the enabler of functional improvement in all areas of business. A decade ago marketers were often unable to prove the business value of the budgets they were assigned, today digital marketing and technology have changed this by enabling every customer interaction to be measured and quantified. Perhaps the question is not whether the CMO is an ally or a rival, but rather how to encourage collaboration between CIO and CMO in developing a business strategy which is capable of adapting to the market and consumer while harnessing the capability of technology.

By Desmond Struwig, General Manager: Digital at Decision Inc. (Pty) Ltd.

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