How collaboration can cause coronations for CMOs

Embracing a collaborative culture can have a transformational impact for just about every facet of your business. Perhaps no one, though, is better poised to reap the rewards than CMOs and their marketing departments. As the departmental silos of yesterday recede further into the rearview, savvy marketers are working within – and beyond – their departments in ways that will continue to revolutionize the very nature of campaigns.

Collaboration in real-time

As a concept, real-time marketing has been around for years, but the buzz really took off with Oreo’s blackout tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl. Other brands have proven to be similarly agile; this requires jettisoning cumbersome workflows and developing an approval process without superfluous steps (or manual steps that could be automated).

Of course, paving a smooth path to delivering your messages to your adoring public in real-time only works if your messages are interesting. Plenty of observers love skewering brands that make clumsy attempts to insert themselves into the conversation; there’s at least one Tumblr devoted entirely to the topic.

A bridge built by big data

Everyone wants a slice of big data, but not everyone is sure what to do with it – or who should “own” the process. A report by the CMO Council suggests that big data offers an excellent opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to put their heads together, particularly when supported by a CEO who treats big data as a complex challenge and not a “yep, we’re doing that” checkbox.

Teradata Applications CMO Lisa Arthur, author of Big Data Marketing: Engage Your Customers to More Effectively Drive Value, says she advises clients to start small with their big data experiments, picking small projects to assess value.

“Most companies have a data hairball,” she told me recently. “Collaboration is key—that way both marketing and IT can reap the benefits big data offers. Ultimately, it will benefit your existing customers and help you find new ones as well.”

A better way to listen and learn

Real-time marketing and big data offer revolutionary opportunities to listen to and learn from your customers. The transparency afforded by a collaboration solution will help you keep connected to another invaluable source of knowledge: your cross-departmental colleagues. Better visibility into your sales department will help you craft marketing campaigns that address the real needs of your customers. More interaction with your product team will inspire new ways of talking about your product. To be clear, this doesn’t require extra meetings and emails; it’s just a very pleasant side effect of changing the way you work.

Casting a wider creative net

Forward-thinking agencies and tech companies figured out a while ago that the best ideas don’t always come from the people you’d expect. Collaboration platforms make it easy for marketing teams to tap into the creative reservoir across other departments or solicit feedback from colleagues not normally associated with the creative process – while also controlling the conversation and making sure that there aren’t too many cooks in every kitchen.

Will CMOs still be called CMOs? Where do CDOs and marketing technologists fit?

As marketers become more submerged in data analysis (and IT teams are expected to think like marketers), some industry vets believe that the traditional CMO role will fade away, replaced either by chief marketing technologists or CMO-CIO hybrids. Others believe that CMOs and CIOs will simply add to their existing skill sets – or hire marketing technologists to straddle (but not replace) the departments.

Former Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett told Digiday that the new roles are much ado about nothing: “There is no reason to create an entirely new position when [CMOs and CIOs] should be working together and getting it accomplished.”

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.