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Evolution of the species: From CMO to chief digital officer

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13th Mar 2013
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Think your CMO has something of the neanderthal about him? You might just be right! Because the traditional role of chief marketing officer could soon be consigned to the history books as a new breed of professional emerges to supercede them.

The proliferation of Big Data has given rise to a new kind of marketer, one that uses a new set of data-heavy metrics including return on promotional investment, managing omnichannel diversity and driving conversion rates and optimising efforts.

According to Ray Wang, this has resulted in greater reliance on technology. “Historically, CMOs relied on IT for help on the database or CRM system or even the website. However, consumerisation of technology and the Cloud have now given marketers more control on their technology destiny,” he explains.

As a result, the analogue marketer has now shifted to a chief digital officer, says Wang, with this shift bringing seven new trends for 2013:

  • Drive relevancy with context no content: Context trumps content as relevancy required to break channel fatigue. Relevancy will improve engagement metrics.
  • Move mobile strategies from campaign to commerce: With engagement moving to mobile first around the world, campaigns without commerce will result in wasted marketing efforts. Point of sale must be part of the strategy as we shift to a world of matrix commerce.
  • Focus on conversion rate optimization: Conversion rate optimization takes center stage.  How catalysts are built to create the right offer should be tested, measured, and optimized. 
  • Design for people to people interaction models: B2B and B2C are dead. With context, individuals play different roles. This move to engagement and experience will require design thinking in crafting the P2P models of the future.
  • Use marketing automation to gain efficiencies: Repetitive processes should be rapidly automated and even given to the CIO for maintenance. Scaling up with marketing automation is a key requirement for success.
  • Address big and small data: Social and mobile provide great signals that can be used to make the shift from data to information. Finding patterns in the information helps marketers identify insights and then make the appropriate decisions. Marketers should focus on the business outcomes not the data. 
  • Expect more accountability in marketing budgets: With so much money flowing into marketing and digital efforts, expect a higher degree of scrutiny. Marketers must be prepared to talk financial speak. Moving to digital will improve accountability and lead to data driven marketing that many have sought in the past.

“Market leaders should choose to create a new role of CDO by bringing the best of CMO and CIO into a new area.  Fast Followers should bring IT and CMO closer together before creating this new role. Cautious adopters and laggards should wait and see if there is a need for this position,” Wang concludes.

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