Atlassian CMO: Organisations are on journey of change

Atlassian chief marketing officer shares how the software group has embraced the transformation to cloud and marketing’s role in brand ownership

Brand ownership: Many of us would confidently state the CMO should have responsibility for it. But Atlassian's marketing chief, Robert Chatwani, sees it as a cooperative job across the organisation.

The Atlassian CMO describes marketing's dual function as to “help steward and build a brand customers love, and drive high-performance measurable growth for the company”.

“Building a great brand is everyone’s responsibility within the company because every customer touchpoint, whether human or digital, is a representation of our brand," he told CMO during a recent interview. “Marketing leaders are responsible for setting the company up so that we do that, but it’s everyone’s responsibility that we do that well.”

Another prerogative of the marketing leader is transformation. Many organisations are on the journey of change, and Atlassian is no different. The enterprise software company, which in its early days was focused on the role of assisting organisations manage their local, physical infrastructure, is today completely focused on cloud-based transformations for its customers. And Chatwani is front of centre of these efforts.

Atlassian has also had a ring-side seat at the digital transformation journey of large-scale organisations, which to many has meant overhauling the infrastructure and work practices towards a virtual model.

“We were focused on on-premises products, with servers and data centres, and what’s happened over the last decade and particularly the last few years is an accelerated shift to the cloud,” Chatwani said.

To cope with such change, Chatwani told CMO the organisation puts the emphasis on the ‘how’ of change, not just the ‘what’. This is because it's people who have to make the change and embrace the work processes and systems required for profound, transformative undertakings, he said.

Atlassian itself has published 40 different principles in a playbook to help organisations think about change management, project planning and roles and responsibilities. And as CMO, Chatwani has come to understand the business needs to be ahead of where organisations are at on their change journey in order to lead from the front for its customers.

As a B2B outfit focused on technology, it needs to market its solutions with a two-fold approach, he said.

“We need to build products for where customers are today, so they have the right solutions for current needs, and build ahead to enable those organisations to grow into the future continuing with Atlassian’s solutions,” he explained.

Atlassian also needs to understand the emotional connection customers have to its brands and follow through with its product offering.

“We have to deliver on the promise we make when champions for Atlassian within organisations choose our brand," Chatwani continued. "One of those things is the connection within the Atlassian community. We spend a lot of time creating an environment where customers can connect with each other at events and with our online community.

“We take a lot of pride in fostering those connections between our customers to grow our community because it’s people who are making those changes within organisations. It’s not just Atlassian helping its customers, it’s customers helping each other.”

Some of the most valuable transformations, Chatwani continued, are those oriented towards being customer-centric.

“Ultimately the purpose of a business is to grow and retain a customer so what we see are engineering and IT teams are orienting themselves towards growth metrics, revenue, customer satisfaction, customer growth,” he said.

Another imperative is the shift in the role and importance of customer metrics. 

“When we see the transformation efforts of companies, almost all of them are orienting their focus to metrics that drive operations efficiency, which is obviously important, to metrics that drive customer value,” he added.

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