CMOs keen to develop digital skills to increase strategy influence
Natalie Steers
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Chief marketing officers (CMOs) want greater influence in setting business strategy and are increasingly keen to raise their technology IQ, according to a new study.

Heidrick & Struggles and Forrester polled nearly 200 global marketing leaders and found almost three quarters claimed they wanted to increase their influence within business strategy and see improving their relationship with the senior executive team as the best path to get there. According to the research, 38% of respondents said they wanted to improve their C-level relationship building skills most.

But digital came out on top as the number one skill to improve with 40%, according to the research, yet CMOs are still prioritising relationships with CEOs and CFOs rather than CIOs. Only 30% of CMOs saw developing a relationship with technology departments as important.

Additionally the report revealed that CMOs are also becoming increasingly aware that they need to act as company leaders, not just marketing leaders, through trends such as supporting the “voice of the customer”. Nearly half (41%) of respondents saw representing the “voice of the customer” as one of the most critical factors in obtaining personal success.

Heidrick & Struggles and Forrester undertook the study to measure CMOs influence within companies, their business objectives, and the skills and competences necessary to drive organisations.

David M. Cooperstein from Forrester said: “For CMOs to prove the value of their role and justify the marketing investment, they must clearly illustrate the ROI of marketing plans, influence the understanding of their brand strategy across other functional areas of the company, and engage technology and sales peers to create a consolidated vision of how to succeed with customers.”

John Abele, global managing partner of Heidrick & Struggles' Marketing, Sales & Strategy Officers Practice, said: “Companies realise that it is very difficult to defend a competitive advantage mainly based on cost efficiency — they are now moving to customer intimacy to drive differentiation.

“This shift in focus has to become part of the DNA of leading organisations. It will be a journey, and we see CEOs leaning on the CMO to lead the expedition. This will require visionary leadership and an understanding of functional implications that will need to change to fully embrace this approach.”

The report is available to view for Forrester Leadership Boards CMO Group members and Heidrick & Struggles clients.


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