Future CMO Movement



CMO evolution

What is the role of Future CMO? What kind of experience CMO should have? What is the CMO’s role among the board of directors? How should CMO’s work be measured?  These are questions we are looking to create answers to in collaboration with professional network. Join the conversation and give us your opinion! Here’s our view:

The days of 30” tv-spot are over. The time, when kpi’s like awareness, top-of-mind and preference were the only thing that defined whether the campaign was a success or not are behind us. The era of pre-planning emphasis, execution and analysis post campaign is no longer sufficient. Intuition and gut feeling founded concepting that you buy and accept with a leap of faith gets CMOs fired now.

Just a couple of year ago the CMO was a god and creator in his silo. CMO has a lot of money at his disposal and he could make decisions solo. This is why agencies and media concentrated all their focus on CMO. In many cases CMO’s had, and still do, more liquid cash than any other director in the same company. These resources, as they are liquid and easily saved, have often been the first to face budget cuts in case of a down turn.

Today, CMO’s position has become tremendously more influential inside organization, or it has lost ground. The reason to this is, that the corporate boards have become more demanding and aware of the possibilities out there. In those companies where the role of CMO has diminished, measurement and proof of ROI has not been established. In those organisations, where CMO’s influence has increased, the CMO has become the owner of customer intelligence, customer interface and –experience innovator. In such an organization the KPI’s are clear and the decisions that CMO does have a solid ground founded on data and analytics along with great insights and concepts.

Marketing emphasis has moved from mass-media and advertising concepts to..

  1. existing customers, their lifetime value and loyalty
  2. own customer interfaces, their capacity to invite new visitors and prospects and further, convert visitors to customers and sales
  3. how to do more with less by using automation, how you use technology to serve and inspire customers and adapt to individual customers needs and preferences in an omni-channel environment
  4. customer insights, how the organization can innovate products and service and create competitive edge
  5. how to create a strong brand founded on real experiences and capacity to deliver

In case there is an able CMO in the board, there’s no need for Chief Customer Officer or Chief Digital Officer. These positions are often created because there is no-one capable of tearing down silos and making the change happen. In my opinion these positions are either short-term change enablers.. or they eat an old fashioned CMO for lunch. The five things listed on the todo-list, can often be found on the list of corporate must win battles in many companies. Someone will take care of them anyway.

The role of CMO is an outstanding opportunity to really influence corporate success. In my opinion CMO’s are in the key position to really drive success in most must win battles, like these:


  • Best customer experience (Goals: loyalty, LTV, cross & upsell, high NPS)
  • Innovative solutions: Creation of competitive advantage, distinctive and special offering capable of delivering substantial value, high quality
  • Continuous and cost-efficient new business (Goals: brand recognition and image, demand generation and stronger new customer conversion)


  • Lean and effective operations and processes – strong bottomline (Goals: highly productive organisation capable of delivering superb customer experience at comparatively low expences by using new technologies, online environment and automation)


  • Catalyst for winning corporate culture: Inspirational and very satisfying workplace capable of understanding and driving development and change. Recognition as very prominent employer for hungry and innovative new talent, Topline growth energize the company’s employees and focus their minds on opportunities, innovation and growth

CMO’s are specialists in understanding customer needs, preferences and they have their senses tuned to customer’s frequency. Simultaneously they are operating within the board and get internal business information. They also manage liquid capital and prioritize its use. They should know whether this capital provide best return on investment if it’s used to service development or promotion. We expect to see development in which CMO’s lead the change or they are required to do so. CMO has to do more than just plan advertising campaigns. The origin of marketing definition was about 4P’s: Price, Place, Product and Promotion. Lately CMO’s responsibilities have been only concentrating on the promotion part. Now, the CMO’s role is coming back to its roots, which is at the core of corporate strategy and operations.

Summary: CMO Job Description

  • The CMO is tasked with the overarching marketing strategy, including planning and development, as well as day-to-day marketing operations.
  • They are expected to have a thorough understanding of what is happening in the market, be able to anticipate changes, and be proactive in crafting new messages and programs to address those changes.
  • They help drive revenue and sales through integrated and performance-based marketing.
  • They understand the behaviors and lifestyle of their customer segments. They know which segments are most profitable, where they are, and how they can be influenced.
  • They coordinate media and messaging across online and traditional channels to distinct customer segments, with regard to the brand as a whole, and the brands/functions contained under the larger brand umbrella.
  • They develop and maintain a performance framework for marketing and sales, which directly ties marketing activities to company-wide financial performance metrics.
  • They plan, direct and coordinate marketing budgets in accordance with organizational goals.


Here is in short results from Interviews with Over 50 Leading CMOs Illuminate a Defining Era for the CMO Role in CMG Partners’ Fifth Annual CMO’s Agenda™ “The CMO Has Arrived”

How did CMOs lead this movement to modernize marketing and redefine their role? The Fifth Annual CMO’s Agenda, “The CMO Has Arrived,” identifies the major contributors of this evolution and reveals what CMOs believe is the key to long-term success for the marketing organization and the CMO position.

·         CMOs Are Blending the Art and Science of Marketing to Fuel Growth
CMOs believe the science and art of marketing are both essential, and when combined, are the foundation for growth. Today, data and analytics are critical to decision-making and optimization but many CMOs believe the science is really only as good as the art — or the ability to ask the right questions, extract meaningful insights and create new ideas. Finding the right balance between science and art was a common challenge among CMOs in the study; most believed marketing organizations that strike this balance achieve the greatest returns. To attain this highly coveted balance, CMOs are redefining what marketing means in their organization and restructuring on this foundation. To take advantage of powerful data and analytics, CMOs are investing in their science capabilities, not just new tools and technologies, but infrastructure and people. Some are even overhauling their department.

·         CMOs Are Demanding Accountability and Delivering Results
CMOs are redefining marketing by proving it can be a business engine that drives revenue — not a cost-center. This has been possible as CMOs increase their ability to measure and drive change, tying marketing to business results better than ever before. As CMOs translate marketing’s impact on business performance and demonstrate the ability of marketing departments to generate revenue, they have earned C-suite accountability, putting them right where they want—the hot seat for growth.

·         CMOs Are Embracing Agility as the New Reality
CMOs agreed: change is truly the one constant, making agility key to success. Marketing has transformed dramatically in the last few years and the evolution will undoubtedly continue. This means CMOs must become more focused, fast and flexible. The computer software industry has long organized and operated around the Agile discipline. Viewing agility as the new reality for modern marketing, CMG Partners outlines four essential Agile principles that have direct application for marketing, explaining that agility is not just for the CMO, but is the new standard for how successful marketing organizations must operate.

The new CMO according to EgonZehnder

Around the world, we can currently observe how deeply this has changed the profile of CMOs. In leading companies they have long since moved away from the role of brand custodian, instead managing a wide spectrum of often highly complex responsibilities. They are involved – or ideally, instrumental – in developing the overarching corporate strategy. It is also their job to ensure that their company has a strategically oriented customer focus. This includes bringing departments on board, bridging their differences, and initiating and directing change processes. In many points, the responsibilities of the “new” CMO overlap with those of other divisions such as IT, sales, R&D and even touch on process organization. Close coordination is required by CMOs to push forward with a comprehensive product marketing plan that centers on consumer requirements – from idea to production and distribution. The success of their activities is monitored using KPIs that could also serve as general indicators of the company’s success.

Figure 1: Competencies

Given the type and scope of these responsibilities, it is natural to conclude that nowadays the competence profile of a successful CMO is similar to that of a CEO. And indeed, an analysis of anonymized data from management evaluations conducted by Egon Zehnder revealed significant overlap. In large portions of the performance assessment with eight defined competences, there were few differences between CMOs and CEOs. This shows that CMOs are just as results-oriented as CEOs and have equally well-developed competences in teamwork, organizational development, change management and market expertise.

What does this tell us? Although some still believe that CMOs don’t have what it takes to be CEO because they have a narrow perspective and are not sufficiently results-oriented, this view is clearly outdated. The striking similarities in competence profiles leave no doubt that today’s stellar CMOs take on large-scale responsibilities requiring business management expertise. Given the trend towards increased customer focus, this competency profile will apply to even more marketing managers going forward and ultimately will serve as the benchmark for successful marketing executives. In the future those who want to succeed as CMOs will have to possess the wide-ranging skills of a general manager, and be more than comfortable with digital media and the accompanying challenges. This is good news for successful CMOs who are considering making the move to CEO. They can be certain that they are already well equipped to meet the demands of the position to which they aspire. (Source: EgonZehnder)

Fortune CMO community’s Steven Cook has prepared an amazing deck about how the role of CMO is changing and in fact how marketing is changing. CMO is or can be a great change agent and Mr. Cook has great cases about just that. Here it is:

FutureCMO.org will become a network in which CMO’s, CEO’s, managers and experts can contribute, share and learn together. We need to re-invent and define new view on:

  • Research: qualitative and quantitative
  • Analytics
  • Data mining and management
  • Managing cross-channel customer behaviour
  • Understanding internal financial information, structure and flexibility
  • Education
  • Partnerships
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Customer relationships
  • Technology development
  • Ecosystems and markets

You can’t eat an elephant with one bite, but over time you can eat it bit by bit. If there are more people helping you and each others it’ll get done faster. Join the movement and we can do this together!

We are looking for corporate partners and experts who would like to publish their opinion and articles here. We are also working on a conference early October in order to get things really working. Let us know if you would like to publish, speak in an event or partner with us. Please contact: toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org


  1. Arpit Desai says:

    Thanks to the authors for this interesting article. Very crisp, to the point and informative. Cannot agree more with this article on the future roles and responsibilities of CMOs.

    Change Management Operators—Interesting presentation !

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