The modern CMO: Going nowhere fast without technology

Gabriel Karawani, co-founder and director, ClearPeople, explains why the modern CMO must embrace a digital skillset in order to evolve

For the modern chief marketing officer (CMO), the streamlined process of employee/customer engagement by using technology effectively is paramount to success. This new wave of CMOs is transforming the digital ecosystem by embracing innovative digital strategies in parallel to implementing technologies that are designed to captivate, engage and retain both employees and customers.

The modern CMO must now embrace an extended skillset that often creeps into the realm of IT, exploring new technologies from a marketing perspective. The challenges on marketing and IT agendas are, therefore, joined-up and concerned with technology strategy and consolidation. Marketing and digital strategies are closely aligned. They must take adoption techniques into account to improve business processes, adding yet another string to the modern CMO’s bow – change management. Understanding how the organisation and its employees must adapt and learn new skills is imperative to successful technology implementation.


The modern CMO and his/her team are working with IT to leverage and realise the true value of technology to improve their ROI. Previously, these two distinct disciplines and mindsets consisted of independent, siloed teams that lacked the ability to identify and capture revenue opportunities from a business-aligned perspective. The amount of data accrued by marketing programmes requires a comprehensive analytics platform to make sense of the data and turn it into useful insight. The relationship between marketing and IT seems to be an obvious and natural partnership. However, this newly found marriage is a must in order to utilise technology solutions for improved marketing agendas.

For example, CMS Cameron McKenna (CMS) is a full-service top 10 global law firm operating in a heavily regulated and extremely fast changing market. It has embraced the challenge of creating a knowledge portal for its clients that can deliver targeted and relevant communications to their different audiences in a comprehensive way.

Its marketing team was concerned with the proliferation and management of CMS’ communication, ensuring that the right information was delivered to the right people at the right time. With tens of thousands of subscribers, global reach and multi-lingual requirements, it was obvious that technology was the enabler for such communication. This led to the successful implementation of its knowledge portal, ‘Law-Now’. Using a best of breed content management system to revolutionise its ability to generate and share know-how between its lawyers and its clients has increased its interdepartmental efficiencies, reduced the costs of its central research function, improved user experience, and offered a platform which supports a responsive user interface – meaning its clients and lawyers can access the information they need anytime, anywhere.

To remain successful, the breadth and scope of this project required the collaboration and knowledge between forward thinking CMOs and CTOs to truly capture the vision of Law-Now on a global scale – and taking on board that they must have a joined-up agenda to achieve their vision.

It is not a surprise that CMOs are seeing larger budget allocations compared to their IT counterparts and now spending more on IT than CIOs, according to a number of research studies. A shared ownership between marketing and IT teams is also often established to reach mutual goals and outcomes. The modern CMO may have become the driver for IT purchasing, however, the combined effort across teams has resulted in a unified approach towards common business goals, solving challenges collaboratively to see greater return on investments.