The evolving role of CMO: 4 predictions for 2019 and beyond

Published February 22, 2019 by

Categories: Blog, The business of marketing

As CMOs move into 2019, the role continues to become more diverse—encompassing everything from driving organizational change, acting as the voice of the customer, innovating, harnessing and analyzing vast amounts of data, and understanding today’s evolving digital technology—all while minimizing costs and maximizing customer retention. Oh, and yes, all while answering to the CEO.

Forrester recently released a report outlining its own predictions for how the role of CMO will evolve, predicting a shift back to the “basics” of marketing and managing. However, we see the role expanding. Below, we discuss four predictions of our own for how we see the role of CMO evolving through 2019 and beyond.

1. The CMO will be Chief Collaboration Officer in the C-Suite

The next level of automation and hyper-personalized marketing is on its way, which means the CMO will need to collaborate with all of his/her C-suite peers to succeed. From operations to technology and beyond, the customer experience—and therefore, marketing—touches every silo in the organization.

Basically, CMOs can no longer go it alone in today’s multifaceted and constantly-changing business landscape.

Aptly referred to as the symphonic C-suite by Deloitte University Press, the goal of today’s senior officers must be to act as experts playing in harmony to move the business forward—and perhaps CMOs most of all.

2. The CMO and CTO will become closer partners

In recent years, we’ve experienced tectonic social and technological shifts that have brought about a series of interconnected revolutions, including the Internet of Things, cloud storage, mobile and a customer journey that is no longer linear.

Because of this, CMOs will need to collaborate with their tech-savvy C-suite peer—the CTO. In addition to artistry and deep understanding of people that go into the marketing functions, CMOs must be able to understand cloud computing, storage, transfer of information, technology infrastructure and network stability.

In the words of Eric Hadley of The Drum, “Now, chief marketing officers spend a greater percentage of their budget on tech than chief technology officers do, and are lauded for being data-driven.”

3. The CMO will be a champion of transparency

The customer is always right. And these days, customers and employees alike are demanding more transparency from organizations. To put it in perspective, Sean Hargrave of CMO.com writes, “Essentially, this is a conversation about trust, which operates at two levels—can marketers be trusted by their organization to spend their budgets wisely, and can consumers trust the authenticity of the advertising that marketers produce?”

Indeed, the CMO will continue to become a powerful driving force in pushing for transparency at all levels of the organization as part of rocking their role in 2019. As we’ve seen time and time again, it is a proven leadership trait in successful organizations.

4. The CMO will push for martech that delivers on multiple levels

Understanding how today’s martech tools work—and what they can accomplish, is non-negotiable for today’s CMO; he/she must be a student of technology. After all, today’s martech can not only deliver an increasingly personalized and relevant customer experience; it can also help eliminate long-standing problems with silos (we’re looking at you, sales and marketing). Platforms like HubSpot, for example, enable marketers to see hundreds of aspects of the sales and marketing machine, all in one interface.

Lastly, because of their tech prowess, CMOs will also be leveraging their tech skills by driving change within their own organizations, to provide more enterprise efficiency and better integration, breaking down those silos.

Bonus: CMOs will push for more purpose

As we’ve seen with companies like Patagonia, organizations and the CMOs who drive them are taking more overt social stances. Patagonia has successfully been doing this for years. They embrace storytelling, sharing compelling, engaging stories from the outdoors that get people emotionally connected to and excited about the brand, while seamlessly weaving in their position on environmental issues. Purpose and branding are more entwined than ever.

Plus, with an increasing pressure for transparency and ethical behavior, companies are more inclined to weigh in on controversial social issues. So, expect to see more Nike a la Colin Kaepernick-style approaches to marketing in 2019.

In fact, Gillette has already set mainstream media ablaze with controversy through its new campaignThe Best a Man Can Be.

As CMOs continue to navigate the ever-expanding duties of their evolving roles, we’re excited to see new and inventive ways today’s organizations reinvigorate their brands and their marketing efforts . . . and rock their role as CMO.

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