John Mellor, CSO, Domo: The lesson learned from Adobe CEO Narayen which shaped my thinking on strategy

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

John Mellor, chief strategy officer at cloud business intelligence (BI) platform provider Domo, learned a valuable piece of advice on strategy from his former CEO at Adobe, Shantanu Narayen. The tip has stayed with him ever since.

“We were doing a strategy presentation one year and I had these beautiful slides I was so proud of,” Mellor tells MarketingTech. “It was a good half hour, 45 minute conversation, everybody was engaged, and we got to the end and [Narayen] said ‘okay, so now what are you going to do about it?’

“If you can’t connect strategy to operations, it’s really pointless,” Mellor adds. “That was one of the real lessons I learned. Strategy is sometimes viewed as a very high-minded academic approach, and that is just not interesting to me and how I work.

“I love to feel that strategy is built on alignment within the organisation, and has implications on how we’re going to behave over the next 12 months as an organisation. You’ve appropriately set a vision, you’ve aligned to the various teams in the organisation to that vision – and that’s where strategy gets very interesting to me.”

Mellor spent nine years at Adobe in total, having moved over after the company acquired web analytics provider Omniture in 2009. Josh James, the CEO of Domo, was a long-time colleague as co-founder of Omniture, so Domo was a natural destination – backed up by a shared view on strategy.

“The way I view it – and the way that Josh and I really connected – was strategy is about applying the right energy to the point that will have the most impact in an organisation,” says Mellor. “It’s about the value it creates for customers, or its employees and shareholders.

“At Adobe, that was a lot about acquisition – it was about understanding the landscape, who to partner with. At Domo, it’s really about matching this massive value proposition that Domo has to the right audience with the right offer, and being able to do that repeatedly,” he adds.

For Domo, this proposition is simple: transform the way business managed by changing the face of BI, enabling insights and action for any line of business, at the speed of cloud. Speaking to Mark Green, EMEA marketing director in September, the importance of gaining a single source of data at pace – no longer ‘chasing one’s tail’ – was noted.

Though the company cites financial services, high tech, manufacturing, media and retail as industries of expertise, segmentation by job role is arguably more important – to create data workflows for a particular purpose. “We’re seeing building apps that take from the data and BI and analytics that put it all in context and drive action for a specific business purpose become more and more important,” says Mellor.

“This could be a retailer with a very specific need in their supply chain, it could be a finance organisation really needing to forecast one line of business with accuracy,” he adds. “I think of it as they way to really make BI and analytics bespoke for not just an enterprise, but for any department and any team within that enterprise.”

B2B marketing, particularly for enterprise software, is a long road. Some deals take years to get over the line. Mellor likens the marketing side to an orchestra, as opposed to a throwaway slice of pop. “With B2C, sometimes you can have a real one-hit wonder and do a Superbowl commercial and voila, you’ve created a ton of demand, your servers melt, and you sell a bunch of product,” he says. “B2B doesn’t really work that way.

“It’s an orchestra between the product, the sales team, the customer service team, and the marketing team. All of those pieces have to be singing off the same sheet of music. To create long-term relationships with customers, it’s not just about selling to the customers; you’ve got to renew those customers, and you want to grow them when they renew.”

The ‘democratisation of data’ which Domo espouses sounds great on paper, but what does it mean for the traditional roles of marketing and IT, and how can the orchestra continue to function? Mellor notes IT’s role has always been that of ‘the guardians of data’ – and understandably, they may be concerned about losing control and visibility. But you can have the best of both worlds.

“There’s nothing scarier in the world than really smart, well intentioned people making decisions off of bad data,” he says. “That will crush an organisation. IT worries about those things: that’s their charter, they have to make sure things are governed correctly, that it’s current, it’s validated.

“It’s kind of in the Maslow hierarchy [of needs] – it’s one of the basic things that you’ve got to put in order before you can let digital transformation run more rampant.”

For marketers, a world of possibilities remain. Mellor notes his generation ‘got into marketing because there was no maths involved’ – a sentiment with which this reporter empathises – but the game has changed for the better.

“It’s wonderful to make decisions based on data,” he says. “It’s really comforting to go into your staff meetings with a whole lot of data behind you, and a whole lot of data informing your decisions. Then you are in a position of being an arbiter of decisions, versus having to come up with all the right ideas yourself.”

Taking the pressure off marketers and ensuring IT can keep control? That’s music to any organisation’s ears.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

View Comments
Leave a comment

One comment on “John Mellor, CSO, Domo: The lesson learned from Adobe CEO Narayen which shaped my thinking on strategy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *