The Evolving Prominence of Great CMOs

"Thriving enterprise seeks Chief Marketing Officer to drive Big Data strategy and manage the bulk of our IT spend." Wait. What? It's not irrational anymore. Relevant CMOs are increasingly becoming the equivalent of CIOs -- or, at least, intimate partners to CIOs, within their organizations.  Irrelevant marketing executives, the ones who aren't keeping up with marketing technology and data science, are a threatened breed.

Peppers & Rogers Group's 1:1 Media is in the midst of a two-part series on "The Evolving Role of the CMO" in B2B and B2C enterprises.  In it, author and CMO Grant Johnson reveals insights from his conversation with three other CMOs -- insights that so far include the urgency of CMOs' adeptness in data science and marketing technology.  (Johnson quotes Gartner's eyebrow-raising prediction that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs do.)  nFusion CEO John Ellett, author of The CMO Manifesto, puts it this way: "CMOs must now drive how technology is utilized, just as they drive marketing strategy and tactics, to ensure their company can successfully engage with the more empowered, digital, and social customer."

One could argue that it has always been true that CMOs have had to earn their right to a power seat at the executive table -- and that doing so has required expertise in how to quantify impact, use data and analytics, master emerging technology, and be a partner to the traditional power-holding CTO, CIO, and CFO.  Heck, McKinsey called that CMOs would need to be more data-technical in 2007, three years before "Big Data" would become a household phrase.

What's new here is a required skill set.  Power CMOs must understand how relevant communications are fueled by network architecture, middleware, and apps.  They must not only understand how big data flows and works, but thrive as stewards of it -- pumping analysis of the market and customers into the organization to inform decisions, and reacting symbiotically with it in outbound activities.   They must make IT recommendations that promote the CIO's goals, because today, the CIO's and the CMO's goals are converging.