Why Does The CMO Need A Role On The Board?

Firdaus Shariff

For many years, marketing has existed in siloes, contending mainly with activities related to branding and awareness. However, the digital era has caused an explosion of customer touch points and fragmented communication channels, causing the role of marketing itself to expand.

So what does this expansion mean for the role of the CMO in the future? I believe it encompasses a redefinition in the marketing function itself and provides a true opportunity for the CMO to take on a larger role as the “voice of the customer” within the organization.

Time for change

You will likely agree that the conversation dominating boardrooms today focuses on how to engage customers early enough in today’s hyperconnected environment. To achieve this, companies need to do two things: transform all traditional functions to take on a more customer-centric view, and have access to insights that will help them understand their customers’ new or changing needs.

Marketing is unique in the fact that it has both the first and last touch points with customers. As traditional organizational structures melt down, CMOs can spread their wings to become a transformative force in enabling change.

Owning the customer experience

The way marketing itself is conducted has undergone significant structural change; and today it needs as much automation as possible to manage the customer lifecycle.

Tracking customers has historically been an on-premise journey. But today everything lives on the cloud, including the communication channels that reach the customer. This makes tracking and engagement all the more difficult.

The truth is that with existing tools, we are really able to track only the final 20% of the customer journey leading up to a technology purchase. In most cases, we miss out on the preceding 80% of the cycle, during which decisions are shaped.  To succeed, we must be able to reach the customer in the initial 20% of the purchase lifecycle. This is where marketing can add real value.

Because we can bring insights and data and deliver predictive analysis based on market research, CMOs can help business re-focus and re-architect the CRM strategy. And when technology mixes with the right business tools, innovation and engagement can finally meet on common ground.

Making business run better

One of the things that changed for SAP is the company’s view of the competitive landscape following its cloud strategy. Our competitors are no longer traditional enterprise software giants, but smaller solution players that dot the landscape.

Similarly, our customer base has also shifted toward the SME market, which primarily makes technology purchases online and in the cloud. This has redefined the playing field

What the market needs now is customer contextualization to business and communication. The CMO can certainly make this a reality.


Firdaus Shariff

About Firdaus Shariff

Firdaus Shariff is SAP's Head of Marketing for the Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa region and is a member of the EMEA Marketing Executive Leadership team. She leads the integrated marketing strategy for SAP, working across the broad portfolio of SAP's innovation solutions.

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