Leadership in a changing world. The impact to the role of the CMO

06 Nov 2018

  • Leadership
  • Data-driven Marketing
  • Customer Experience
  • Technology
  • Marketing Technology

We are staring at a monumental structural change.

Victor Milligan, CMO of Forrester Research, delivered a compelling keynote at this year’s 2-day ADMA Global Forum CX conference based on his recognition of the changes in the marketing industry and organisations. 

In his presentation, Victor referred to Nicolaus Copernicus’ 1543 model of which the sun was positioned near the centre of the universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets orbiting around it in circular paths. Essentially, the sun does not revolve around the earth but the earth around the sun. He likened that revolution to the same phenomenon that is happening in our markets… 

“Customers don’t revolve around companies, companies must now learn to revolve around customers… And that’s also a revolution.” Victor explained.

There has been a buzz in the market about whether the CMO is dead… “I think there is a future for the CMO and marketing which is very different but extraordinarily powerful…

The pace of digital, the behaviours of consumers, the millennials driving people nuts… those are not things they grew up with, those are not things they have tackled and they do not know how to run a playbook in today’s market. How do they compete in a market that is vastly different from before? Decisions they will make will have very little precedent, they can’t go back to the old playbook.

The Consequences? Companies will go out of business, companies will make decisions that takes them off the playing field. And companies will also make decisions that make them successful over the next 10 years.”

Victor Milligan’s predictions of the future of marketing can be summed up in the keynote takeaways below.

If you'd like to review Victors full keynote, you can access all 2018 ADMA Global Forum sessions on demand here.

The rise of the human being

  • We are not serving a customer segment, we are not serving a persona. We are not serving a cohort. We are serving a human being!
  • A company’s responsibility is to sense emotion. What is the emotional state and how do I understand that and adapt and respond to it?
  • We need to go back and work out: How does the brain make a decision? This is based on the concept that people make decisions out of emotion and duress…
  • You have to free up the time in your day-to-day to really understand who is the customer? What do they like? What motivates them? What pisses them off?

The end of the cheap scale

  • Marketing turned to mass marketing before the digital age. When you look at automation, when you look at martech, what we have done is we have digitised scale. We digitised a bad habit. There is nothing more exciting than to write one email and send it out a million times. It is thrilling. It is so efficient, and it is so darn ineffective.
  • Spam filters, GDPR and the world in which we live in, is going to disallow success for scale. We need to look at scale differently.
  • The goal is individualisation at scale. And one of the great ironies of this is that it is achievable with technology. What is odd is that technology is going to allow for a more realistic humanised relationship!
  • Data is dirty, it’s gross. AI is fascinating. For anyone who is in marketing. Learn the language of data. It will set you free. It is a tough kind of language, but really understanding the nature of data flows and data governance, that is the heart and soul of AI, if you do not solve that, AI will remain a really cool buzz word.

The destruction of industry safe havens

  • Customers and competitors are tearing down protective fences.
  • The challenge is being “nicked to death” not substitution. With the loss of customers slowly chipping away at the P&L.
  • Disruption is normal – It is creating new landscapes and competitive fronts

The crisis of trust

  • It’s not distrust – but it is getting close.
  • Tribes + divisiveness + democratisation of brand is a dangerous brew for a CMO… spiced with security and privacy.
  • It is best to have transparency and to walk-the-walk – if you do not – you are going to get called out.
  • Small things grow big fast so be conscious of all of the above.

And a crisis of loyalty

  • What is a rational expectation of loyalty?
  • The evidence is shocking and unsurprising and relates to: GEN X, Y, Z behaviours, Digital choice and Supply-side loyalty market.
  • Don’t just solve with “Just-better-than tools,” but superior operational sensibility.

Digital vanilla

  • Nearly every company will pursue digital transformation.
  • Digitisation is born from common recipe books and design sensibilities
  • Keep the purpose of your firm front and centre at the process of digitising your business – It is not about digital – it is about digitising your company’s soul.

The new world of digital outsourcing

  • We don’t have enough time in the day to do everything. Digital outsourcing, AI and different ways to leverage technology is a thing. However many companies are burdened with a massive technical debt.
  • Robotics process automation (RPA) is going into the enterprise to take on large complex tasks which are repeatable and basic. So to those who are leading the change in the world of marketing, look hard and fast at these.
  • Ask yourself what resources are you freeing up and what is the core? What are you doing with the time you have won back? What is the thing that the teams are going to do to humanise the brand and create empathy. Think human to human.

The beauty of a good story

  • Don’t just spit out technical writing spiced with buzzwords such as AI, Blockchain and Machine Learning. Go above and beyond the buzzwords of the day! 
  • What does it mean to create friction in a story? 

Orchestrating the shape-shifting organisation

  • The CMO is the orchestrator of employees, agencies, robots, and experts served up by gig economy.
  • Think tasks-not-jobs
  • Think projects-not-functions
  • Learn matrix management not hierarchy. You need to understand data and remove silos and hierarchy.
  • The CMO is going to be the steward of the customer in this mix. In this mix, the purpose is the fabric which knits things together. The brand is the expression of the purpose and the CMO ensure that the message is being delivered on their terms through this complex moving organism.

So what does it mean for the future CMO?

  • The CMO will be the steward of the customer and the orchestrator of experiences
  • The CMO requires human design – at scale
  • The CMO needs to have a multi-front, and needs to be hyper dynamic
  • The CMO must have the ability to remake teams and talent. The teams that you are in now will change massively – start to learn the other languages of the enterprise. Be the renaissance player in the firm.
  • Get ready for war-gaming. The world is changing. What decisions your organisation is making right now, will give them time on the clock to prepare them for changes in the future of your industry.

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