It is very difficult to spend a day without finding new research from HBR, McKinsey, IBM IBV and a myriad of other sources reinforcing the changing role of the CMO (and most other C-Suite Colleagues) and the need for organisations to evolve rapidly to genuinely become a customer centric and customer engaged organisation. This shift has many proud parents, including analytics and Big Data, social media, brand shifting, the rise of the Middle Class in emerging markets amongst many factors.
If companies and government entities are to embrace this, and approach the full potential, radical change is critical. Of course the required challenge to orthodox behaviour will be both transformative and uncomfortable to existing ways of managing.
One of the most important ways in which orthodoxy is going to be disrupted is the organisational structure. Simply capioIT asks the question
Should the CFO Report to the CMO?
If the customer is truly the fulcrum of the future organisation, then it is an imperative that the role “owning” the customer engagement has the direct and strongest ear of the CEO alongside the customer. Currently for the overwhelming number of organisations the CFO sits closest to the CEO.
This must change and customer engagement has to lead the organisational process not the financial or administrative functions (This is not an attempt to diminish the importance of this capability). The benefits, at least in practice, allow for much deeper alignment of long term goals, as (I admit generalising), strategic marketing is largely less caught up in the quarterly reporting cycle that has, and continues to, cripple so many organisations.
Up front it would need to be acknowledged that one of the traditional criticisms of marketing by CEO’s, CFO’s and other organisational roles is that it is not metric or ROI driven. In the 1990’s when I was first involved in marketing organisations, that was a fair opinion. The core metric was usually what time did lunch finish on a Friday.
In 2013, and beyond the wealth of customer data on everything from customer satisfaction, online engagement, social media etc. results in an environment where metrics, data and insight are in fact overwhelming for the average C-suite resident, including marketing.
From an industry perspective, whilst the consumer driven industries, (Retail, FMCG, Online) are the most obvious candidates, the customer of the Natural Resources, manufacturing or logistics firm is still the central pivot for the organisation. The idea of customer engagement and customer centricity applies across every organisation that has a customer in every market.
This transition of the organisation to a customer centric firm will be disruptive for a very large number of firms. Part of the disruption has to be to change the core and traditional structure of the organisation itself. Doing this early allows for innovators to align to the customer ahead of the competition, and assuming execution at, or near potential, increased financial performance.
I am interested to see if there are any organisations that have taken this approach, let me know if you work, or have worked in an environment whereby Marketing is ahead of Finance in the organisational hierarchy. If we are serious about becoming a customer centric organisation then this is a strong position from which the transition must start.
If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, Founder capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology in emerging markets. Phil may be contacted by email or phone below,
+61 (0) 422 231 793