What these four CMOs are doing to foster marketing-IT alliances

T-Mobile, Vimeo, DonorsChoose.org and Eli Lilly and Company marketing leaders share how swapping talent to bridge the CMO-CIO divide, plus the complex remit of the CMO

Marketing, IT and product leaders are going so far as swapping talent between their functions as digital transformation reshapes the way organisations approach both technology procurement and customer engagement.

Speaking on a panel of marketing leaders during this week’s Salesforce Connections event, CMOs from T-Mobile, Vimeo, Eli Lilly and Company and DonorsChoose.org shared how they’re working to drive change within their respective organisations, and what it’s meant for both the relationships they manage across the business, but also their own roles and remit.

T-Mobile SVP of brand and acquisition, Peter DeLuca, said the journey to technology utilisation and knowledge in marketing is a never-ending, moving feast.

“Just as you think you’ve gotten the technology that can empower you do to what you want to do, and got critical mass, things evolve and you have to just evolve with it,” he told attendees.

To cope, T-Mobile has created an expert on the marketing team to be the lead champion for marketing and advertising technologies and “to drive future for us”.

“This resource sits within the marketing organisation, then has to face-off with IT group,” DeLuca said, admitting the relationship can sometimes be challenging. “But we’re starting to recognise you have to partner closely with IT, as well as need expertise in the marketing group to help drive and evolve, especially with all the new media technologies coming on-board all the time.”

Eli Lilly and Company SVP and CMO, Rob Brown, said he would have laughed at anyone who told him five years ago that the function he’s closest to today would be IT. Marketing and technology work on everything together at the pharmaceutical company, he said, and have been on both a joint and parallel journey of transformation.

“Marketers and marketing leadership needed to understand technology far better, but IT also needed to understand customers far better too. They’ve gone on a parallel journey with us,” Brown said. “We’re actually now starting to share talent – we have certain jobs that have blended so much, we now look at careers across the two groups.

“It’s really critical the whole company to go on that customer journey and become customer centric.”

DonorsChoose.org CMO, Katie Bisbee, described her relationships with the not-for-profit’s chief technology officer as well as product leader as “happy marriages”.

“We interview each other’s people on teams – every person,” she said as an example of how the teams are not only collaborating but growing together. “We have a thing where we raise up email marketers and then send them over to product because they understand the marketing side and we teach them to be technical, which helps product.”  

Equally, Vimeo CMO, Harris Beber, said his CTO’s deep product and engineering background, along with the broader customer lens taken by the business, makes that relationship so much easier and more effective.

“We’re solving together on what features we need to build – marketing has a lot to do with bringing in new capability to product and are getting more engaged in the platform. And that has to do with partnership,” he said.  

CMO role and remit

Panellists also discussed the primary role of the CMO today and the qualities are vital to success.

“You have to be all-knowing and part scientist, with a deep understanding of data and numbers that drive the business,” Beber said. “It’s not enough to drive awareness. Part of it is being a creative behaviouralist too, and knowing what’s important to customers. And then to be able to craft compelling stories that share and drive behaviours across the company.

“Then it’s being part technologist – what is the mentality and experiences your customers care about and how technology fits. If it’s ecommerce, how does AR [augmented reality] work and does that enable you to create a differentiated shopping experience for your customers? Ir it about 360-degree video because customers don’t just want to view video, they want to be more immersed in it?

“The landscape is changing so fast, you have to be on top of all these things.”  

One of the greatest challenges CMOs face is how to become great storytellers in this modern age, DeLuca said. “We have been so wired to think everything is a 30-second creative idea. Now you’re dealing with 6 seconds to five minutes in media and your art has to change because it’s all about engagement,” he said.

“Also, you’re not always your own creator. You have to let creation happen with other individuals who may not be working for you or with your brand. Content is out there, it’s so important, you have to be able to engage with anyone who wants to create content for you, and give them things to talk about that will engage.”

Brown, meanwhile, said he spends most of his time helping the organisation see where things are going, such as customer expectations and the marketplace, and equipping it to cope with change.

“Then I’m trying to create an environment in my marketing group where it’s safe to allow them to move,” he said. “Whenever you change, will have some people with vested interests in being where you were… often, it’s how they were successful, and it creates resistance to change. How do you help the whole organisation see that, then create an environment to foster change.”

  • Nadia Cameron travelled to Salesforce Connections in Chicago as a guest of Salesforce.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

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