Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) in many organizations have become bigger IT spenders than any other business function, including the CIO. This is because the role of the CMO has effectively moved to that of being the ‘chief digital officer’. Customer engagement and lifetime value expansion have become integral in the entire business process, whereas customer retention is proving to be more and more difficult. Targeted and informed engagement, with thousands or millions of customers, would usually require multiple technologies and applications. It is therefore imperative that the CMO masters these technologies and has control over them.
Being technology-savvy is the norm for new-age CMOs. This is driven by their need to use technology to better understand customers and markets in order to succeed and perform better than everyone else to stay ahead of the curve.
While marketers have begun to realize the crucial role technology plays, it is imperative that they understand that digital has become the norm and they have to be technology proficient, on top having good business acumen and great understanding of customer behaviors.
Understanding customer behavior calls for deep analytics on top of large amounts of data. As such, the CMO needs to synergize with the CIO to invest in technologies that offer actionable insights. CMOs and CIOs need to jointly fund and execute projects that require cloud architectures, analytics, mobile integration, real-time functions, with stringent cyber-security defenses in place.
CMOs are fast becoming custodians of data and reputation, growing the influence of cyber-security on marketing strategies
Concerns related to cyber-attacks and information security continue to rise as marketers today have a much greater access to valuable data.
Today, cyber-attacks could be launched through digital marketing campaigns, via phishing. In an attempt to steal sensitive data, such as usernames, passwords, phone numbers and credit card information, cyber-criminals can launch attacks through legitimate-looking digital marketing assets such as electronic direct mail (eDMs). Corporate social media accounts are also potential targets for cyber-criminals. Unauthorized access to these accounts can enable cyber-attackers to push out malicious content that may potentially damage a company’s brand and reputation.
As more cyber-attacks are launched through online advertisements, cyber-security is a cause of concern for marketers. Cyber-attacks can damage good marketing campaigns and turn them into public-relations disasters. Both the company and its customers can be victims of such attacks, and – given this risk – there needs to be a joint effort between an organizations’ marketing and IT departments when it comes to cyber-security strategies and solutions to prevent marketing channels being used as a launch-pad for cyber-attacks. This is a prime example of how CMOs should work together with their CIO counterparts.
Is digital is the way to go in the Middle East?
As a global CMO, I have seen first-hand how Middle East consumers are increasingly digital-savvy and how the region continues to show very positive signs in relation to the growth opportunities for digital marketing. Whether it’s high smartphone penetration rates, the proliferation of mobile e-commerce or online retail, there are numerous signs that indicate growth opportunities for digital marketing and technology-driven businesses.
I believe this is an exciting time for organizations in the region and that there is a real opportunity we can leverage by creating an environment in which the CMO and CIO recognize their potential to shape cyber-security together.