CEOs, CMOs, And Executive Recruiters Make Predictions For Marketing Leaders in 2016


Kimberly A. Whitler, Contributor

December 2, 2015

What are the top predictions for marketing leaders heading into 2016? To find out, I turned to some of the leading experts, including CEOs, CMOs,  and executive recruiters.

Prediction #1: The CMO will Have the Seat Right Next to the CEO

From Kirk Borne, Principal Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton

As digital marketing becomes the central hub for business offerings, technology applications, customer experience management, social media engagement, and financial risk management, the CMO role will grow into one of the most sought-after and trusted advisors in the C-suite and the executive boardroom. The core CMO responsibility is still marketing, but the universe of people, products, and processes that marketing now entails is expanding both physically and virtually in every direction that digital business is moving. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fast and forceful ride!

Prediction #2: CMOs will be Picked for More Non-Profit Executive Leadership (CEO) Roles in 2016

From Matthew Boyle, CMO, AAFCPA

There are many executive directors in nonprofit organizations throughout the country that are past or approaching retirement age.  CMOs are ideally suited to fill these positions because of their ability to articulate the mission and generate excitement around the brand, which is critical for long-term success.  These CMOs will make ideal candidates to lead nonprofit brands hungry for leaders who are naturally relationship savvy.

Prediction #3: CMOs will Build C-Suite Capability to Leverage Social Media and Drive Total Business Results

From Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite

2016 will be the year CMOs at organizations big and small embrace social media as a way to improve the bottom line through their marketing campaigns. This year, we will see the CMO influence the rest of the C-Suite to implement social media strategies both internally and externally to further business initiatives beyond marketing, to sales, customer service and employee advocacy. Next year we will see the acceleration of social media and the solutions to participate in relevant customer conversations will be the next powerhouse in marketing.

Prediction #4: Marketing Leaders who Excel at Meeting Customers on the Go Will Win

From Juliet Daum, Executive Director, Communication & Marketing, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Our digitally connected, always-on world is increasingly dominated by mobile technology. We use smartphones, tablets and wearable gadgets to get things done, to seek and share information, and to explore new ideas and places — often while on the go. Google coined our shorts bursts of online activity ‘micro-moments.’ The brands that thrive in 2016 will be those that excel at capturing customers’ attention and trust by delivering the right content, in the right dose, at the right moment, informed by the right data. Customers today seek engagement on their terms, which means marketers must ‘pull’ them in (by offering valuable, searchable content; dynamic social media engagement; and top-notch visuals, including video and infographics), ‘push’ out their messages (through tasteful, personalized communications), and create opportunities to shake hands (though we’re on the go, we are human).

Prediction #5: CMOs Driving Customer-Centric Change Agendas Will Be Better Positioned for CEO Roles

From Caren Fleit, Senior Client Partner and Leader of the Global Marketing Center of Expertise at Korn Ferry

Since customer-centric companies have customers who are more loyal and better brand promoters, as well as earn a greater share of wallet, they typically have higher revenue growth, stock price and market share.  So it would seem obvious that customer centricity would be every company’s focus, but not really―only 7% of companies earned an excellent customer experience rating according to their customers. As companies wake up to this huge disconnect and make improved customer centricity a priority, it often falls to the marketing leader to drive this transformation agenda across the customer journey and the enterprise. In order to help guide their organization on the journey to becoming more customer-centric, marketing leaders must drive organizational alignment and break down functional silos like never before. This implies very different leadership skills and an ability to think about the business much more holistically, beyond the classic marketing roles. CMOs who are successful at driving this change are well positioned to take on additional responsibilities and, ultimately, even a CEO role.

Prediction #6: Real Time Marketing Data Visualizations Will Transform CMO Roles and Board Meetings

From Joshua Reynolds, Head of Marketing, Quantifind

By the end of 2016, CMOs will no longer present slideware to show their impact on revenue in their organizations. Thanks to the emergence of real time explanatory analytics and data visualization platforms, CMOs will access data visualizations in real-time to show senior execs actual impact as its unfolding. And this exercise in exploring data correlated to revenue in real time will jump the curb beyond the marketing organization and become a normal daily activity for the entire C-Suite by the end of next year.

Prediction #7: Leading CMOs will Reduce the Time from Analysis to Action: We will Move from an Era of “People Speed” to “Machine Speed”

From Jay Marwaha, CEO, SYNTASA

Companies need to look inwards to utilize their own data first before they look at including third party data. It’s most cost effective to combine your clickstream data with your enterprise data to analyze real time customer behavior. The time gap between data collection to analysis to action is still at “people speed,” but the future of marketing is to move to “machine speed”. That is, sharing of actionable intelligence from machine to machine and moving from being diagnostic to predictive to prescriptive. Most companies are still at the very basic level of diagnostic analytics, but we see that changing quickly due to these advancements.

Prediction #8: Chief Digital Officers Will Become the Highest Priority Position in the C-Suite in 2016

From Vicky Maxwell Davies, Partner in London, Boyden Global Executive Search

The transitional role of CDO will be the most critical in ensuring organizations are able to transform themselves into true digital companies. Executives will need to become digital leaders if their organizations are to thrive, rather than die, over the next few years.   Whether it is the current CIO, CMO or senior business executive who takes on the CDO mantle will depend on their ability to extend the scope and scale of their role. Bringing a digital mind-set to an organization and leading the digital discussion requires a deep understanding of the business model and of what drives profits, a track record of delivering true business transformation across an organization, and most importantly the creativity and willingness to bring disruption to the existing business model. There are few perfectly qualified individuals with the necessary influence to change the current mindset of the C-suite and senior executives, so here is the opportunity to take on the most critical task any organization faces today – and deliver it fast!

Prediction #9: Marketers will Lead Customer Experience and Engagement Development

From Shashi Upadhyay, CEO, Lattice Engines

With the rise of predictive analytics in marketing, the marketing organization will shift from cost center to revenue driver. Making sense of the influx of data that marketing teams collect is key to mapping customer interactions and driving the loyalty that comes with personalized engagement. Predictive marketing efforts will be a crucial component of how successful companies engage customers and prospects with relevant, targeted efforts over the next five years.

Prediction #10: Marketers will Drive Enterprise Data and Analytics Strategy 

From Rishi Dave, CMO, Dun & Bradstreet 

Marketers have become one of enterprises’ largest users of data and analytics to optimize customer experiences and drive growth for their organizations. As enterprises recognize that a lack of good data and analytics will hamper their ability to grow, we’ll begin to see more CMOs given ownership and oversight of the data and analytics budgets to ensure that clean, organized, and integrated first and third-party data and sophisticated analytics are driving the overall growth strategy for the company.

Prediction #11. Marketers will Become More Involved in Product Design

From C. Dave Minifie, CMO and EVP, Corporate Strategy of Centene Corporation, a $20B healthcare services provider.

Sometimes it feels like we’re caught in a Dilbert cartoon where the engineers expect the marketers to gloss over their flawed design.  Or worse, as we’ve seen with VW, somebody is expected to cover up a flawed design. Those marketers who can use the power of market research developed insights to influence key decision makers will be in greater demand.  Regardless of your organization structure and hierarchy, the buck stops with marketing when it comes to the brand value proposition—and that means driving better product design.

Prediction #12: Marketing and Sales Leadership Alignment Will Strengthen, Thanks to Sales Enablement

From Robin Saitz, CMO, Brainshark

It’s no secret that marketing plays a key role in supporting sales, and that a synced approach and shared goals have always been crucial. Recent studies show that three-quarters of organizations that exceed revenue targets have strong sales and marketing alignment, and that companies with defined sales enablement roles are more likely to be highly aligned. This is notable, as sales enablement has emerged as a strategic function – helping ensure marketing delivers the content and resources sales reps need to succeed, and that sales can actually find and use that content effectively. As the space heats up, and organizations further adopt sales enablement strategies and technologies in the year ahead, we’ll see that better alignment between marketing and sales will follow.

Prediction #13: Firms/CMOs that Build Brand Transparency into the Customer Experience will Win

From Anne Pritz, CMO, Sbarro and Cucinova Urban Italian

Complete transparency in brand marketing is paramount – gone are the days of taking creative liberties with our products to enhance their appeal. Consumers expect – no demand, honesty in all marketing efforts and believe in brands that ‘tell it like it is’. So stick to the facts and seamlessly integrate these facts into your advertising. Communicate openly and make it extremely easy for guests to have a two way conversation with you in real time. If you haven’t already – ensure all digital communications are mobile optimized, actively solicit feedback from consumers and incorporate strong data analytic tools to evaluate impact – all of which will ultimately strengthen your brand in the future. A trustworthy, honest brand with solid guest relationships will win.

For more predictions related to digital, data, analytics, media, and marketing, click here

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler


This article was written by Kimberly A. Whitler from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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