Today’s CMO must tackle these 3 challenges
Chief Strategy Officer Debbie Qaqish on the "Rise of Strategic Marketing Operations Functions."
“Today’s CMO lives in a tech-infused world,” says Debbie Qaqish, the chief strategy officer for the Pedowitz Group. As a veteran marketing operations expert and author of “The Rise of the Revenue Marketer,” Qaqish believes the three primary challenges facing CMOs today are digital transformation, business accountability and customer experience.
During her “Rise of the Strategic Marketing Operations Function” panel at our MarTech Conference in Boston Wednesday, Qaqish went deeper into the challenges faced by CMOs — sharing statistical evidence on how these challenges are impacting marketing operations teams as a whole — and presented ways to for marketing operations to become more strategic.
Challenge #1: Digital Transformation. Qaqish argues digital transformation is a necessity for B2B marketing operations, requiring multiple marketing technologies. The reason digital transformation is such a challenge, according to the chief strategy officer, is because marketing operations leaders are often not up to speed on the technology needed to fully bring their organizations into an optimized digital environment.
Pulling data from a 2015 CMO.com report, Qaqish backed up her argument with the following stats: more than half of senior executives cite a lack of familiarity with technology as a barrier to digital transformation — and 48 percent of marketers are not confident in their digital ability. Per the same report, only 27 percent of executives rated digital transformation as being a “matter of survival.”
While the report is three years old, it highlights the ongoing need for marketing operation teams to know how to take full advantage of available digital technologies. In the end, Qaqish believes digital transformation will lead to some silos coming down within the marketing operations framework, as more teams come to understand the value of integrated martech systems that span across entire marketing functions.
Challenge #2: Business Accountability. Business accountability — or lack thereof — represents a critical gap in the marketing operations function, according to Qaqish. Citing a CMO study from Duke University, she says 80 percent of CMO’s feel pressure to deliver ROI, revenue and growth, but only a third report financial results.
As an executive who has spent much of her career championing the the need for marketers to drive revenue, Qaqish says the future of the B2B CMO is tied to financial accountability:
With financial metrics accountability, the position of the CMO becomes board room relevant. This switches the focus from marketing being a ‘nice to have’ if we can afford it; to a true driver and supporter of the company’s revenue growth strategy that is a must have to succeed.
Challenge #3: Customer Experience. Qaqish says customer experience is the new competitive battleground. She argues that companies can replicate a product or a price, but not an experience.
“Customer experience pays, and it pays really, really big,” says Qaqish, “You cannot copy the strength of a customer relationship.”
Based on Gartner research, Qaqish says the customer experience will overtake price and product as a brand differentiator by 2020. She believes that businesses are being forced to become customer-centric organizations because so many of the newly introduced technologies are designed to give customers more ownership over their experiences.
“Now, because of all those bright shiny toys, the customers are in control,” says Qaqish about the growing martech landscape.
Ultimately, Qaqish sees the marketing operations function as a capability driven by strategy and operationalized by people, data and technology to deliver a business result. To be successful — and transform from a regular marketing operations function into a strategic one — the chief strategy officer says marketing operation teams must focus on these three challenges to overcome their primary obstacles.