Beyond Marketing: Why Digital Disruption Requires a Deeper Transformation

The forces of digital disruption have toppled established business models, magnified the significance of digital channels and competences, and initiated the “customer-centric era.” Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their marketing organizations would seem to be ideally positioned to lead the organizational response to these disruptions. Marketing typically owns the customer relationship and has developed sophisticated methods for understanding and communicating with customers. Indeed, many of the vendors and service providers who aim to help companies with customer experience management (CEM) have focused their attention on marketing professionals and processes. Surprisingly, however, CMOs are rarely at the forefront as companies tackle the digital innovations necessary to attract and retain empowered consumers.

Accenture recently surveyed C-level executives in 20 countries and found that the CEO was responsible for such initiatives in 35% of the organizations, followed by the CTO (23%) and the CIO (22%). The CMO? Virtually invisible at 1%.1.

Such results do not indicate a lack of will or skill on the part of CMOs and marketing professionals. Rather, they show that the forces at work in digital disruption have not only granted consumers unprecedented voice and choice — they have also fundamentally transformed the business environment and the capabilities required for business success. Digital is so disruptive because it radically accelerates and warps not only the customer relationship by also the entire process from product innovation to customer satisfaction. As a result, any organization that wishes to remain relevant requires not only a different kind of marketing; it has to develop the ability to sense, understand, and respond to changing market conditions and customer expectations with extraordinary speed, agility, and flexibility.