The changing role of the CMO in a CX-focused world

22 Aug 2018

  • Leadership
  • Thought leadership
  • Customer experience
  • New thinking

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is set to evolve and expand according to Victor Milligan, CMO for research firm Forrester.

Milligan, who spoke at ADMA Global Forum, says: “Right now the CMO predominately, obviously, anchors the marketing department and is responsible mostly for acquisition. Going forward, you're going to find the CMO to be the primary executive steward of the customer and the primary orchestrator of experiences.”

The value of the CMO to organisations is only going to increase with Milligan seeing the focus of the role to be, “creating clarity to anticipate the behaviours of customers”.

Still, Milligan says these changes to the role of the CMO are part of a wider shift within today’s organisations. “These are changes that are not limited to marketing per se. They originate in marketing, but they go to how firms are organised and how firms operate,” he says.

At the heart of the change is a move away from silos that have become the norm for organisations of all shapes and sizes.

“Companies are predominately organised by silos and functions. And of course, customers don't care about silos or functions,” says Milligan.

The shift in recent years towards prioritising customer experience (CX) initiatives has been a major driving force of change within companies and one of the greatest challenges to the established silo model. Although Milligan says there’s some way to go in creating business models that truly cater to the needs of customers.

“CX initiatives, well-meaning as they are, have been mostly unable to really change the basic foundational organisational structures and operations of companies,” he says.

Other factors driving change within companies include the gig economy with CMOs far from immune to dealing with the challenges and opportunities of independent short-term workers. But perhaps the greatest change is yet to reach its peak – the rise of robotics.

Milligan says: “if you look at the next wave of how robotics will come into the workforce, you're going to find companies will be organised very differently. We call it a shape-shifting organisation where the company's core competency is its cultural ability to serve the customer, meaning its culture and its brand are tied together. All the different functions that surround that may be supported by robots or AI. You'll see companies be smaller at their core, but be more fluid organisms, if you will.”

Milligan sees the CMO of the future developing knowledge around RQ, or robotics quotient, as they actively work to establish ways for the marketing function to work alongside robots.

“Not robots they directly encode, but machines that operate more autonomously. They make decisions on their own, based upon the artificial intelligence that's baked inside. There's a piece about how CMOs field teams that have the RQ to allow AI to prosper,” he says.
As the role looks to become more complex, Milligan doesn’t believe the CMO is going away. He adds: “I see the CMO really being of paramount value to the organisation.”

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is set to evolve and expand according to Victor Milligan, CMO for research firm Forrester.

Milligan, says: “Right now the CMO predominately, obviously, anchors the marketing department and is responsible mostly for acquisition. Going forward, you're going to find the CMO to be the primary executive steward of the customer and the primary orchestrator of experiences.”

The value of the CMO to organisations is only going to increase with Milligan seeing the focus of the role to be, “creating clarity to anticipate the behaviours of customers”.

Still, Milligan says these changes to the role of the CMO are part of a wider shift within today’s organisations. “These are changes that are not limited to marketing per se. They originate in marketing, but they go to how firms are organised and how firms operate,” he says.

Need more info?