September 9, 2014

What are the current topics that will propel your company forward?

Announcing our blog challenge. As a part of our Business Transformation blog, we are now starting a new blog series. We will challenge chosen business leaders to a conversation on how business transformation is affecting their organization.

In this first post, I have challenged a few selected leaders to answer this question:

What are the current topics that will propel your company forward?

The challenged companies and their representatives are:

I will be addressing this question in our next blog post. First, here are some of my thoughts regarding the organisation of marketing.

How to organize marketing?

So how should the marketing organisation be organized in this era of business transformation? According to a study by McKinsey, the CMO will be subject to more change than any other company executive during the next few years. My area of responsibility covers driving our marketing and communications in a service organization, so my point of view comes from these angles. According to Pravin Nath, profitability is better when marketing and communications are under the same department. Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed proposes that one should put marketing and sustainability under one leader to communicate in a single, consistent view. Others propose including product development, innovation and many other areas under marketing. In fact, there are also people proposing that the CMO office should focus solely on marketing!

So how should the marketing organisation be organized in this era of business transformation? I personally don’t have any ambition to build an empire consisting of as many people or units as possible. According to a study by McKinsey, the CMO will be subject to more change than any other company executive during the next few years. According to Gartner, the CMOs will have a bigger IT budget by 2017 than the IT department itself. Personally, I don’t care who sits on the budget, as long as we share a view of where we are heading and what it is that will get us there. The key here is actionable data-driven customer insights based on a single view of the customer.

Where is the CMO located in the C-suite hierarchy?

I read an article stating that the optimal number in a leadership team is seven people. After seven, there is a diminished ROI in decision making. If you combine it with the explosion of C’s in the C-suite (I’ve listed three of my favorites here: Chief Happiness Officer, Chief Customer Officer & Chief Culture Officer), then formal decision power may become a fluctuating commodity. As an executive, the CMO needs to influence (for example) sales or the CIO-office. Survey results show that when CMOs have the additional responsibility of sales, companies deliver superior growth. The same survey stated that only 15% of the CMOs studied were responsible for marketing and sales. This means that 85% of us have to be more moderate when it comes to finding the common ground between driving long-term and short-term sales for internal political reasons.

What does this mean for me?

In an increasingly customer-oriented and digitalised world, I will ”juice up” my customer obsession and tap even more into data analytics to start predicting how to better drive sales in the short term. I don’t believe that changing the organizational structure in itself is the ”silver bullet” to finding better ways to work together. Rather, it is a mindset! And a mindset in itself is a consequence of leadership. This means that it is up to me as a leader to articulate a vision of where we are heading and why we are heading there, so that we all work towards a common goal. The ultimate goal is quite clear: serving our customers’ needs. The key challenge for me is in thinking of a creative solution on how to maximise my upcoming 17 months (what is left until the average 28 months a CMO stays with a company has passed). Albert Einstein once said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I agree! So let’s change perspectives and initiate some joint thinking!

You can read our "The Future of Business Transformation" study here

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