CMO most likely to be in charge of digital transformation

Of all the 'chiefs' within companies, the CMO is most likely to lead many digital transformation. This is evident from new research. The fact that the marketing boss is the most likely candidate to guide companies through the digital age is remarkable. Accelerating innovation, modernizing the IT infrastructure and increasing operational maneuverability is usually someone else's responsibility

Of all the 'chiefs' within companies, the CMO is most likely to lead many digital transformation. This is evident from new research.

The fact that the marketing boss is the most likely candidate to guide companies through the digital age is remarkable. Accelerating innovation, modernizing the IT infrastructure and increasing operational maneuverability is usually someone else's responsibility. That says Brian Solis of Altimeter Group, the organization that draws these conclusions based on their own research.

Normally these are IT-related themes, he tells CIO. But the world in which the trends provide the greatest changes and the worlds of most executives are completely different. The package of tasks of, for example, the CIO / CTO is also quite up to standard. When they take office, they often have to deal with a large list of overdue projects. Something in IT ensures that people always have to focus on the past, Solis notes. CMOs, on the other hand, breathe future. They naturally measure their success by how many new customers they manage to achieve.

That future-oriented view may make CMOs more suitable for managing a digital transformation. Research among just over 500 strategists shows that in 34 percent of cases the marketing supervisor is ultimately responsible.

The fact that IT departments have a lot to do with the past naturally depends on the so-called 'legacy' within companies. Another recent study shows, for example, that this legacy inhibits companies in digitization or disruption. Because companies are dealing with outdated systems, they are less able to respond to external changes or to choose the attack themselves.

IT and marketing also have totally different views on the future, Solis notes. IT has the goal of keeping productivity high and supporting daily practice, and marketers are constantly trying to keep up with their competitors. According to him, marketing is guided by a feeling of wanting (and often being unable to) to keep track of changes in customer needs and future trends.

Solis is quite critical about that dichotomy. 'The more research I do, the more I'm surprised that companies make little progress', he says in an interview. Many companies still face cultural challenges and a far too rigid mindset in his eyes. 'The CIO does not work like the employees work, the CMO does not experience its brand as the customers experience it.'