Editor’s note: This is an exclusive extract from Lynn Scheurell’s new eBook, Perspectives: Digital Transformation Through the Lens of Strategic Marketing. This extract, from chapter five, ‘Woke Leadership’, explores CMO and CIO alignment, as well as questions which need to be asked to drive digital transformation.
CMOs are masters of alignment in terms of making connections between people, issues, and solutions, empowering both clarity and action, persuading buy-in, and uniting disparate parts and pieces.
These are pivotal skills when it comes to leading a digital transformation initiative. So is partnering with the CIO so they can be effective in working with systems, data, and workflows to deliver meaningful customer experiences.
The CIO’s mandate is to care for all culture- and customer-facing systems—customer data, business intelligence, machine learning systems, service delivery and more. Woke CMOs need to profoundly understand the customer. The CIO needs to connect all internal systems to build a unified, dynamic profile of the customer(s) so you as the CMO have a full-spectrum picture of the buying journey. The CIO can show you your customers’ journey, preferences, needs, interests, behaviors, touchpoints, timeline, requests for more information… all of it.
The role of the woke CMO is to then translate that information into a viable profile to deliver a strategically crafted experience that meets the customer wherever they are in their brand experience at any time and on any device. There is no longer a separation between attracting a customer and a salesperson taking over that relationship; instead, each customer’s unique experience is seamless and supported at the right time by the right information and right employee function.
Technology is no longer an optional consideration for marketing activities; instead, technology is now the essential launchpad and integrator of company-wide marketing initiatives, decision-making and customer-centric operations. Technology can unify the customer journey, optimise functions, reveal trends for decision-making; at the same time, the CMO must make the most of what technology cannot do— empower employees to build authentic, trusted relationships.
By combining the respective expertise, knowledge, and skills sets required of woke leadership, cultural alignment within the organisation naturally progresses. The woke CMO knows digital marketing has upshifted, actualising through a digital transformation process; the woke CIO applies their technical expertise, systems knowledge, and experience toward supporting the organisation’s digital transformation mandate.
Organisational culture is the cumulative result of leadership in action and employee contributions; the Evolved CMO recognises that each individual plays a role in serving customers, regardless of specific job duties. Digital transformation can shake employee confidence in terms of their future relevance, job security, and daily activities going forward, even when employees understand the outcome will be delivering greater value for more satisfied customers. CMOs can reduce resistance by recognising the importance of each employee’s contribution by sharing outside-in thinking.
That is, employees may think if they ‘just do this thing’ (aka, insideout thinking—my task starts and ends here), they will have done their job. However, digital transformation requires an outside-in mindset where the job starts with customers who have names and problems employees can solve when they ‘do this thing’ faster and more efficiently. CMOs are uniquely positioned to convey the vision around helping employees design and deliver a stellar customer experience because they can engage customers, share successes, and ensure employees are included to ‘own’ their part in creating customer happiness and organisational results.
The one key question
The woke CMO needs to lead digital transformation through (communicating) vision, sharing knowledge, being a shock absorber for change, and strategic resource allocation while—simultaneously— find, develop, and live on the growing edge of organisational, market, or industry innovation. It takes courage to go beyond the comfort zones (the status quo) where others have never been… there is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation. The woke CMO’s ability to ‘dance’ with circumstances as they present will promote digital transformation progress and victory throughout the organisation.
There is no clear sign for every organisation that it is time to undergo digital transformation. However, there is one question that can guide and orient a woke CMO’s focus in leading digital transformation:
How can every digital touchpoint and every employee interaction engage each customer as a unique person to cultivate 1:1 conversation and build relationship(s)?
The answers will inform how digital transformation proceeds in your organisation. It is likely nothing—no process, no workflow, no campaign, no role—will remain untouched because it includes everything from data enablement to customer profiling to journey mapping to cross-team collaboration to training on systems and software. Enterprise-wide digital transformation is facilitated by a high-level holistic vision and perspective tempered by current circumstances and resources, supported by technology systems, and delivered through employees and technology at every level. Shaking the status quo will surface challenges… AND new opportunities.
Embarking on a digital transformation journey drives company leadership to unite and prepare for the future while delivering customer value today. Being a woke CMO means doing it all seamlessly in today’s Experience Economy. Even more, by virtue of strategising and coordinating contiguous results along the entire value chain, a woke CMO understands the true measure of success for their organisation—being visibly invisible. That is, the transformational changes seem natural and obvious, yet without effort and dramatic confrontation between the current and the new.
Counter to what you might think, many leaders lack the cross-functional skills needed for next-level strategic planning. Where there is a gap in leadership skills, digital transformation can stall or even stop.
In this case, it could be advantageous to hire or consult with professionals who have the skills to develop strategies, frameworks, and teams to achieve your transformation targets. Additionally, be sure to look for internal champions who can support the process as well.
Conditions will never be perfect to begin a digital transformation process. Every passing week means a week when your competitors or market are in their own transformation processes, which means you cannot afford to not know about digital transformation. Even so, when considering best practices for digital transformation, your company’s process will not look like any other company’s process. There is no one-size-fits-all option because each organisation has a unique history and vision. The single most effective way to orchestrate digital transformation in your company is to use your brand and customers’ experiences as a gauge for what’s possible, then work to achieve it.
You can learn more about and purchase Perspectives: Digital Transformation Through the Lens of Strategic Marketing, here.
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