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October 09, 2015
How marketers are approaching the question of digital transformation
By: Narry Singh

(Originally published in

In a recent interview, asked Narry Singh about how marketers are approaching the question of digital transformation.

Fundamentally marketers are ahead of their peers in terms of whats happening in digital. So there’s two or three things that are changing about the CMO’s role.

The first is the CMO becoming a digital translator for the rest of the organisation. One example would be Keith Weed of Unilever. He’s done a fantastic job educating Unilever about digital. He’s got something called The Foundry, and he’s done interesting experiments with start-ups. He’s got crowdfunding of various ideas; they’re looking for a way that you could have a £100 pound refrigerator that could be used in sub-Saharan Africa to keep milk cold for kids, things like that.

There’s a lot of ways you can act as translator and ambassador. We’ve had CMOs take their entire leadership team to Silicon Valley for five days, come out and set up incubators.

The second part is marketing has an incredible opportunity to talk about the new digital metrics that will apply to other functions that they don’t see yet. There’s a shocking lack of a digital scorecard that coexists and reconciles with the CFO scorecard. Think of the number of times the CMO has to justify buying users for engagement, and CFOs have no idea what that means and how that actually adds value. There’s more clarity required around digital metrics.

Then a big role for marketers is bringing external innovation into the organisation. Marketers by definition are outward-facing, market-facing, user-facing. And one of the biggest challenges that large companies face is not innovating fast enough, and having a Chief Innovation Officer doesn’t suddenly fix that. But a marketer has the right antennae and the systems to know what innovations are coming, and they can sense and respond really quite well.

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