CMOs Must Drive Digital Transformation

Jens Feilberg

The future of digital business models should be coming from the marketing department. Where else should it come from? So, dear marketing colleagues – how far are you in driving new business models in your company?

Imagine the perfect customer-focused, technology-driven company: It knows who you are, both as a customer with a history and as a social being with feelings and emotions. The company has a fully integrated insight system, knowing your reaction pattern and where you are, and therefore able to contact you only at relevant times and on appropriate platforms. Once you reach out, the company will respond in a tonality and manner that best suits you. The company appears only in the media and form that appeals specifically to you. The company’s interface with you is unique and exactly to your preference.

Technology sets the agenda

Your alarm clock wakes you from dreamland hard and brutally. You wake up to the reality in your marketing department. Perhaps you are running some SEO, SEM, and revitalized SoMe (abbreviations that were not known just a few years ago) projects that are essential. The e-mail machine is likely running hot, and you probably exchange contact data with sales, service, and product development. You have opinions about, and perhaps experience with, e-commerce, and are starting to automate your campaign engine. A handful of other new initiatives are on top.

The patchwork grows as marketing needs to run new media and contact platforms. Technology sets the agenda for the marketing department these days. Several analytics firms predict that you – the CMO – will spend more on IT investments than the CIO in coming years. You need a solid level of knowledge within IT to conduct your basic work going forward.

Still early days

Look at the marketing technological landscape, and you’ll encounter more than 1000 different solutions from almost as many different companies. The volume of special solutions has increased very quickly. Many suppliers are very young or even brand new, as digital marketing still is in its infancy. You’ll find them in many different categories, as marketing automation is not the same as analytics, which is not the same as search. The overview tells a fantastic story of the rapid change in the marketing discipline. Digital marketing has become the centerpiece of any marketing function. The transition to digital customer contact, digital delivery models, and social media brings a need for all marketers to add new competencies and tools to the toolbox.

Platform versus patchwork

Digitalization means individualization of communication to the customer. The result is less “pushed” communication and more relevance. From a philosophical standpoint, this sounds great. However, it demands that we optimize communication geographically, product- and content-wise, that we do it in real time, and that we draw on all available data sources.

One of the greatest potential risks in today’s marketing department is sub-optimized use of all point solutions for single purposes. Long-term digital competitiveness is, on the contrary, to ensure that all data – regardless of where it comes from – can be used here and now as well as in the future, and in diverse contexts. And this includes digital transformation that is already happening in all industries.

Technologically, we need to think in platform terms, which goes way beyond CRM. And the absolute resource is data, which we need to use between the old borders of sales, marketing, e-commerce, service and back office. It all must be connected to the core company system and data.

The new digital platform holds the potential to change any industry and business model. Marketing can, and should, be in the front seat of digital transformation, as customer understanding is the determining factor, not technology itself.

So, dear CMO, do you have a clear vision on your company’s future profit in the digital economy?

For more insight on how digital transformation can benefit your customers, see The Reality Of Customer Experience In Today’s Organizations.


Jens Feilberg

About Jens Feilberg

Jens Feilberg is head of Marketing – Nordic Region for SAP. Passionate about contextual marketing and digital transformation, he has over 20-years’ experience in Nordic and global marketing from leading global brands in telecom, media, and audio/visual. Feilberg was among other global marketing director at Bang & Olufsen.