CMOs and technology mastery
I was reading the most recent CMO research data from The CMO Study published by Deloitte US and Duke University [the study can be found here]. The findings are very interesting, but they would benefit from a closer cropping by desired marketing outcome, rather than only slicing by industry or marketing approach (B2B, B2C, etc.).
I found Table, 9.2, titled, What makes a CMO most effective, offering a vague set of attributes for CMO success. The table implies a separation between technology and outcome. The third highest ranked item, Having the ability to demonstrate the quantitative impact of marketing efforts, for instance, far outstrips Knowing how to use customer data and analytics, discounting the tool used to document the quantitative outcome. Technology mentioned only twice in the table should cross all attributes.
The analysis below outlines how technology plays a role in each of the effectiveness measures. Technology is a tool of awareness, collaboration, analysis, and organization—how effectively CMOs use technology will determine how well CMOs achieve positive outcomes against all attributes. The list order reflects the study’s first column rank for table 9.2.
Being the voice of the customer at the leadership table. “Being the voice of the customer at the leadership table,” suggests a request to share anecdotes. I imagine the CEO turning to the CMO and asking, “so, what does the customer think?” That interchange may well occur, but CMOs who effectively embody the customer voice create systematic ways of collecting customer feedback. They use a variety of sources, not only customer meetings. Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, proprietary forums, third-party forums and virtual focus groups all offer inputs to the customer’s voice. CMOs must be aware and conversant in these inputs and discussions being held across channels.
Having an enterprise-wide business mindset and understanding. This means that the CMO must prioritize understanding what is happening in the organization, and for large organizations, that is a daunting task. It is hard to have an enterprise-wide mindset unless you are well-connected to the organization. Internal social media, however, can offer a path toward understanding what is happening across the organization. Not only does a CMO need to master enterprise social media tools, they need to be more than observers. In many cases, questions or comments can lead to insights. This effectiveness attribute implies that the CMO build a model of the organization that reflects a should-be state for marketing. CMOs should share their models transparently and use them as a basis for reporting outcomes.
Having the ability to demonstrate the quantitative impact of marketing efforts. CMOs cannot demonstrate the quantitative impact of marketing without understanding the underlying analytics. It is not possible to ask the right questions if you don’t know what data gets collected, how best to analyze it, and the story that the data tells.
Playing a key role in company growth initiatives. Growth initiatives require coordinated execution—and coordinated execution requires collaboration.
Having direct sales/customer-facing experience. Sales and customer-facing experiences act as a means to understanding the voice of the customer. CMOs need channels for input that inform them, and direct experiences offer the best opportunity to connect not only intellectually, but emotionally. High numbers of person-to-person meetings may prove cost prohibitive and time-consuming. Effective CMOs need to complement in-person meetings with video conferences and other types of virtual meetings. Efficient use these tools will reinforce competence and ensure that customers spend their time discussing important topics rather than troubleshooting camera and microphone settings.
Having significant input to the budgeting and strategic planning processes. While technology does not confer accountability and responsibility for budgeting and strategic planning, the proactive adoption and mastery of the technology used for budgeting and strategic planning will increase the likelihood of influential input. The ability to comment, respond, edit and create within whatever tools the organization chooses offers a greater opportunity to engage than verbally commenting on presentations derived from such systems, or writing about budget or strategy outside of the system, such as through an e-mail system.
Proactively leading C-suite collaborations to drive cross-functional initiatives across the organization. This attribute has the words collaboration and proactive in the statement. Holding conventional meetings will suffice, as C-suite collaboration rarely constrain themselves to the C-Suite. CMOs need to engage through all internal channels so they can discover what initiatives may need their leadership. They need to become advocates with their peers, and aware and sensitized to the impact and input from across the organization. As successful initiatives require reach beyond the C-suite—engagement must extend beyond meetings. CMOs need to visibly command the technology used for managing projects. They cannot drive collaborations if they work outside of the tools the C-suite expects others to use.
Understanding current and future marketing technologies. Given the scope of this argument, this attribute should score higher on the list. Technology permeates all attributes on this list. Internal collaboration and social tools are part of the marketing suite. Without the ability to engage internally, a CMO limits his or her influence. CMOs must not just understand but master these internal tools. Technology also creates the basic elements of all marketing narratives in a data-driven, evidence-based marketing organization. If the CMO does not understand the data, or how to challenge the assumptions of the narrative models, then they may well misrepresent the facts, or offer stories based on bad or incomplete data.
Acting with strong leadership and motivation skills. Acting requires reach beyond in-person encounters. Leadership and motivation scale through the effective use of internal collaboration systems. CMOs need to project their leadership and motivate indirectly through virtual channels. Internal video blogs and podcasts can help a CMO drive influence even to those they never meet.
Knowing how to use customer data and analytics. This attribute ties directly to Understanding current and future marketing technologies. CMOs must not just use, but master technology, of which analytics is a subset. Customer data acts as the source for the narrative. If the CMO does not understand data collection and models, they will find it difficult to lead the analysis of that data—which also requires technology.
Being effective at collaboration isn’t on this list, but it shows up in many of the ways technology supports the various attributes that make for a good CMO. It needs to be on the list. Further, the CMO needs to play a role in defining the collaboration environment. Company conversations, marketing messages shared internally, the alignment with strategy, all require collaboration technology that fits the needs of the organization. Organizations often use too many tools and end up with too many channels for people to track and use. Ideas, messages and strategic alignment get lost across the technology boundaries. This forces managers to compensate for the failure of technology by reinforcing messages through other channels, like meetings, which results in higher communication and coordination costs. The CMO should also be a key voice in discouraging the use of e-mail when it doesn’t integrate well with other channels.
CMOs and technology mastery a must
Effective CMOs need to challenge IT and their C-Suite colleagues to design and encourage transparent communication models that prove easily found and quick to adopt—and make sure that any transition to the latest technology requires roadmaps for technical architecture and for communications. When implementing a new tool for internal communications, stakeholders must be given enough time and support to transition well.
Technology permeates the CMO’s responsibilities, and only those who master internal and external technology will position themselves to reflect positively across the attributes of CMO success.
Additional reading for CMOs at Serious Insights: Marketing in the Age of Uncertainty.
From Serious Insights: