The Future Of The Chief Marketing Officer

What’s the biggest problem CMOs have? In my opinion, it’s that they’re held accountable for too many things for which they have no control, let alone influence, over. The CMO Council might agree. As reported in AdWeek:

CMOs are failing at a high rate because they lack the skill sets, credibility, and authority to fulfill their often ill-defined jobs.”

What does this mean for the future of CMOs?

I believe the evolution of the CMO position will be similar to what has happened with the CIO (chief information officer) position in many firms.

Twenty-five years ago or so, many of the first batch of CIOs were VPs of IT promoted into the senior ranks. Many were great technologists, but few were great strategists or politicians.

So many firms named up-and-coming execs from other functions as CIO. The successful ones raised the technology IQ of the organization, made IT more strategic, and helped to integrate IT with other business functions.

More recently, many newly-appointed CIOs are, again, coming from the ranks of IT. Four factors are contributing to this trend: 1) processes are in place to align business and IT strategies [or at least try to]; 2) senior execs are more comfortable with IT; 3) IT itself is more business savvy; and 4) the technology environment has grown so complex that the CIO position again requires someone with a strong technology background.

The history of the CIO will repeat itself with the CMO.

Dissatisfaction with marketing will lead to the appointment of non-marketing folks into the role. Over time, if successful, they’ll help make marketing more strategic and better integrated (not just with other functions, but with itself), paving the way for CMOs tol once again come from the ranks of marketing.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, and certainly not in every firm. The success of the non-marketing CMOs will come mostly from their political and managerial abilities, not their marketing acumen. And also from their ability to integrate marketing itself and quell the growing civil war within marketing.

Thanks to Jim Novo for the heads-up on the Adweek article.

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3 thoughts on “The Future Of The Chief Marketing Officer

  1. I don’t know the answer to this but it strikes me that the turnover rate of CMO’s is massive – any CMO who has been in the job for two years or so appears past their sell by date. Did the same thing used to happen to the CIO function?

    Many senior marketers went into business via an entirely different route to other business functions. The graduate schemes recruited into IT or production whilst marketing organisations recruited from a broader population. In my experience, the training that marketing teams get in other business disciplines is severely lacking. Few companies outside the big FMCG orgs train their marketing teams in a robust manner – that’s probably why you see so many ex P&G and Kraft folk becoming CMO’s elsewhere.

  2. As a matter of fact, yes — the same thing did happed to the CIO function. I remember seeing CIO magazine articles ( showing the average tenure of CIOs in the two-year timeframe. Not sure what it is now.

  3. Pingback: Role of the CMO follows the track of the early CIO « The Bankwatch

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