Forecast 2015: CMOs Build Influence within the C-Suite

November 20, 2014

Sheryl Pattek and her colleagues at Forrester don’t need a crystal ball. They have data. And the data points to a strong 2015 for CMOs who are prepared to guide the executive suite’s growing obsession with the customer. “We see CEOs really turning to CMOs as the chief strategists to drive business growth,” Pattek says. She shared highlights of the Forrester 2015 CMO forecast with BMA Buzz.

BMA Buzz: We’ve been hearing for some time that CMOs are playing a stronger role in the C-suite. Why do you see 2015 as their year?

Sheryl Pattek: Organizations have to become serious about making that shift to become customer obsessed, to really drive the competitive advantage about understanding and organizing to win, serve and retain the customer. The CMO is in the best position to hold those keys to the customer and turn those keys into actions. CMOs are able to reposition themselves from being cost centers to business growth drivers.

BMA Buzz: Do you see that as something that will happen organically or will CMOs need to push their skills in this area?

Sheryl Pattek: We don’t believe that this is going to happen just by nature. It takes a CMO who is committed to understanding customers and to driving that philosophy throughout the organization. CMOs who rethink their approach—how they operate their teams and how they interact with their peers—are those that are going to prosper in this new role and take charge as a full officer in the C-suite.

The title is chief marketing officer but most CMOs have been focused on being the chief marketer and being exceptional at being a marketer. As organizations pivot to become more customer obsessed and [build] their growth strategy around the customer, CMOs need to focus on being full corporate officers and integrating themselves into the strategy discussion and design process.

BMA Buzz: Are CMOs prepared?

Sheryl Pattek: Some CMOs won’t be prepared to make that shift. But many CMOs have surrounded themselves with digital expertise. Those CMOs who understand technology and have a passion for data and have started their organizations down the path to digital transformation, those are the CMOs that we believe will be positioned to successfully assume that role in 2015.

BMA Buzz: What does this mean for collaboration within the C-suite?

Pattek: Evolved CMOs are looking to expand their influence. They are looking to move from being a chief marketer to a corporate officer. Many CMOs are positioning themselves to drive more influence across the C-suite. We see CMOs evolving to expand their roles and assuming responsibility for product development, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions. If you put the customer in the center of your business strategy, then that puts the CMO right in the middle of that strategy.

Relationships between the CMO and the CIO are important. It becomes even more important in the age of the customer. The Holy Grail is unraveling this data mass and creating a unified 365-degree view of the customer. The only way that can happen is for CMOs and CIOs to work together. Neither can create that data architecture and that insight alone. But together they can. In 2015 CMOs and CIOs will turn their cry for collaboration into action, to organize and unify the data, to get that clear view of the customer.


"Forecast 2015: CMOs Build Influence within the C-Suite." BMA Buzz. 11/20/14.