Senior marketing leaders have had to change a number of their tactics to help decide what’s best for their organization during and beyond the pandemic, alongside the ever evolving role of the CMO trend that shows no sign of abating. How has their role changed—and are these changes here to stay?
With Peter Stojanovic moderating, the speakers of this roundtable debate include:
- John Williams, VP Marketing, Verizon
- Sakina Najmi, VP Marketing, Tractable
- Vivian Gomes, CMO, CSS Corp
Changes in the role of the CMO
Moderator Peter Stojanovic began the debate by asking the panelists what the greatest change to their role has been.
“We are in the age of the great resignation”, said CSS Corp’s CMO Vivian Gomes. In the last two years, Vivian and his team have strived to attract and retain talent in their organization. He believes that this is one of the big changes happening in his role as a marketing leader.
His view is that workforce models have evolved. With it, the traditional approach to identifying and sourcing talent has also changed. As a result, Vivian has had to run a variety of digital campaigns to assist with talent acquisition. In addition to this, internal campaigns were required to retain the current workforce the organization has at hand. “Talent is the core to success for the organization”, he said.
Tractable’s VP of Marketing, Sakina Najmi, believes that her role has not significantly changed over the past two years. She still engages in telling the brand story, demand generation, product marketing and other responsibilities. On the other hand, she noted that the biggest difference is dependency on marketing from the business.
She gives the example of demand generation.
“With sales teams now not being able to meet their customers face-to-face as they used to, they are looking at depending on marketing for more support in terms of connecting with the customers during the sales process”, she said.
Before, Sakina stated that demand generation was about generating and nurturing leads. Nowadays, she believes it is focused on driving prospects and customer relationships on online channels.
“With all of the technologies that have become part of the ‘mar-tech’, marketing has become much smarter in supporting the business to make the right decisions backed by data and analytics”, she said. Sakina explained that she is now part of every business decision and tends to lead the conversation when discussing short and long term business growth. According to her, marketing is now seen as a “business accelerator”.
Challenges of the role
Verizon’s Marketing VP, John Williams, highlighted some of the challenges he faced in his role over the past two years.
“Essentially what we had to do is we had to digitize everything pretty much overnight. We probably underwent a two-to-three-year transformation in two-to-three months”, he said. The pandemic forced John and his team to adapt quickly.
Like Vivian, John’s focus is also on talent acquisition and retention. Motivating employees and providing opportunities is something at the center of his agenda. “My team, they are a very diverse set of individuals across many, many countries across EMEAR and APAC”, he said.
John has noticed that the younger employees are more keen to progress in their roles, wanting a new challenge every six months. He delves into the topic of setting expectations about current roles within the team. “We’re in the B2B technology enterprise space and it’s a complex job and you can’t master it overnight. You can’t master it in six months. I actually believe it takes a year”, he said.
Sakina asked John if he had changed the structure of his team to cater to this new conversation surrounding new technologies and new ways of doing things.
“We’ve grown additional capabilities by outsourcing”, he explained. John stated that his organization has been able to do this by mobilizing four key partners across the US, EMEAR and Asia-Pacific.
New additions to the role
“The role of the CMO has become, in many ways, that of a chief collaboration officer”, said Vivian. Drawing from his experience as CMO in his organization, he recalled that there is not a single function he does interact with.
Vivian’s view is that CMOs have a great opportunity to integrate all capabilities and interact with all leaders closely and frequently. “Be the eyes and ears of the company because things are changing. There’s new trends emerging”, he said.
He dives into the idea that marketers are the interface of the external world, aside from sales. Vivian argued that marketers interact with industry analysts, have data coming from digital sources and have access to different external stakeholders.
“So we have that very strategic position to sort of crystalize the learnings from what’s happening externally and help integrate what’s happening internally”, he said.
Sakina believes that CMOs now need to be extremely data and tech-savvy. “Marketers have become the backbone for growth of the business”, she added. According to Sakina, marketers need to use the data they have at hand and predict and make decisions on what opportunities will help direct the organization.
Watch the roundtable above to discover more insights from these top marketing leaders.