Forrester report labels modern CMO jobs ‘poorly designed’ and ‘unclear’

It seems that CMOs are not taking the lead when it comes to digital transformation. According to Forrester 2019 digital transformation report, only 16% of CMOs are responsible for leading the execution of their firm’s digital transformation.  When it comes to strategy, however, they are more hands on. About 23% of CMOs are said to be directly responsible for leading their firm’s digital transformation strategy.

Meanwhile, the report added that the CEO should be in charge of defining the vision to integrate digital into the strategic vision of the firm, with the support of C-suite leaders. This is because:

An average CMO tenure is 4.1 years, while CEO’s average is 8.0 years and CFO’ s 5.1 years.

This volatility can be attributed to the CMO’s “poorly designed, unclear” role and the mismatch between the CMO’s authority and the CEO’s expectations. With less than two and a half years to demonstrate results, the report added that it comes as no surprise that global CMOs at B2C brands explained that improving the ROI of marketing is among their top initiatives in the next 12 months.

As such, CMOs struggle to deliver both short-term customer satisfaction and long term digital transformation simultaneously.

Moreover, CMOs are not able to keep pace with change, particularly in data and technology. The report said that the demand for rapidly evolving digital skills and talent continues to “frustrate” marketing teams, which must compete with adjacent industries.

CMOs have reported that employee recruitment and retention is the second marketing challenge for their firms. In addition, 32% of global B2C marketing decision makers report technology skills as their main marketing obstacle, followed by driving decision making via customer insights.

“Apart from training and recasting existing employees, CMOs have to ensure the current team is fully up to date on the latest digital tactics, data techniques, innovative technologies, and ideation methodologies while preparing to bring in CX specialists, social science experts, and tech-savvy marketers,” the report said.

Focusing on marketing ops

Apart from playing a key role in the company’s broader digital transformation, CMOs should first implement the changes needed to transform their own marketing operations for the digital era.

Over the past 10 years, digital has added various channels such as email, online, social, loyalty programs, apps, and chatbots that have created siloed internal structures and a complex marketing tech stack that no longer aligns with the consumer tech stack. As a result, marketers have added more silos and struggle to align the experience across touchpoints, dealing instead with specialised channel-specific agencies.

The Forrester report said that CMOs have to digitise its marketing and communication efforts such as store, print, out-of-home advertising, call centers and apply digital-enabled measurement to all touchpoints. With a number of brands turning to agencies and consultancies to fill talent gaps, CMOs should continue to internalise some strategic competencies that align their experience strategy with partner-based implementation.

On average, global marketers allocate 22% of the marketing budget to technology, marking it as the third most important element after marketing programs and personnel. Marketers increasingly rely on technology to deliver contextual, relevant, and personalised experiences. While the percentage of marketers who have a dedicated IT team supporting their department has increased from 23% to 28% between 2017 and 2018, Forrester report said that some CMOs complained about the slowness of their IT counterparts and rely on “shadow IT.” However, to scale and move away from technology pilots and proofs of concept, there has to be collaboration with the chief information officer and the chief financial officer.

“Customer understanding and data-driven approaches should be at the very heart of the decisions on how to rethink customer journeys and evolve the digitalisation of the entire customer experience,” the report said.

Agile projects are more often than not led by technology people who see agile more as a methodology than as a cross-functional mindset that embraces the volatility and velocity of change that digital requires. Marketers have to take note that their teams are systematically involved in these collaborative teams, when not leading them, in the interest of the client, the report added.

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