Why the Chief Marketing Officer is the new CDO

by bold-lichterman

  • 34% of CDOs have a Marketing profile, 19% a Technical profile.
  • It is the observation of a change in customer expectations and behavior that mainly pushes companies to transform (in 55% of cases).
  • Faced with difficulties in understanding their customers’ behavior, 52% of CDOs have set up a dedicated research program.
  • 41% of CDOs believe they have increased their market share thanks to digital.

Often approached from its technological perspective, the digital transformation of companies today is rather the business of marketing services, according to The 2016 State of Digital Transformation, directed by Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter, a research and consulting firm specializing in innovative technologies.

The author of the study in fact interviewed more than 500 executives in charge of digital transformation in their company and the finding is clear: more than a third (34%) of respondents are CMOs, against 19% of CIOs / CTO. Note: in 27% of cases, it is the CEOs themselves who deal with this issue.

The customer becomes central, so does marketing

If marketing professionals are thus called upon to redefine the company’s strategy, it is because digital issues touch on questions that fall directly within their scope.

It is the new expectations and behaviors of customers that push more than half (55%) of senior executives to want to transform their organization.

Beyond the need to better meet the needs of their clients, 53% of executives surveyed said they had identified new growth opportunities thanks to digital. 49% of them choose to integrate digital into their practices due to increased competition in their market.


Aware of the importance of understanding the new expectations and behaviors of their customers, more than half (54%) of respondents say they have retraced their journey; this is twice as much as in 2014. However, only 20% of them were interested in the journey of their customers on mobile, which is nevertheless at the origin of the appearance of very important “micro-moments” in the construction of the relationship between a customer and a brand, details the author of the study.

Understanding the customer, ROI: the new challenges of the CDO

If we can be delighted to see companies take up this issue, we note that understanding the customer journey is a major challenge for 71% of executives surveyed, up nearly 20 points compared to 2014. Understandable if it is considered that barely more than half (52%) of the companies studied have set up a research program dedicated to the analysis of customer behavior.

Among the other difficulties encountered by professionals in charge of digitizing their business, we note the lack of information allowing to measure the ROI of the transformations implemented, cited at 69% (against 34% in 2014). Finally, the last major difficulty: the issues of risk management and compliance, cited by 67% of respondents.



When asked about the performance indicators they monitor, 28% of CDOs say they monitor their customers’ satisfaction (NPS and CSAT), 27% the number of visits to their sites and productivity, and 26% the evolution of turnover.


While it is difficult for CDOs to accurately measure the ROI of their digital investments, 41% of respondents still believe that they have increased their market share since they started their digital transformation. 37% of respondents observed a positive effect on the morale of their employees, and a better engagement of their customers through digital channels. Finally, 30% noted an increase in their turnover.

However, IT remains in the majority in innovation committees

In terms of organization, more than half of the respondents declared having federated internal “innovation committees”, more or less formal depending on the case, and composed of 4 to 7 people on average.

First surprise concerning these working groups: it is the technical services that are the most represented (at 63%), followed by mobile experts (41%), and e-commerce (40%). Barely more than a third of their members come from the teams in charge of customer experience, and 6% of them come from the legal services, two difficulties nevertheless considered as major by the CDOs questioned.

Almost half of respondents (46%) say they have set up an “innovation center” to test new technological solutions, and 35% of them have a dedicated innovation team.

** Methodology: survey of 528 leaders and strategists of digital transformation.

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