The big debate: who owns digital transformation?

Any brand worth its salt is focused on digital transformation in 2019 to secure growth. Digital used to be owned by the Chief Information Officer, or Chief Digital Officer, but as digital becomes ubiquitous, organisational structures are changing. We chatted to IBM iX’s Global CCO and Mastercard’s Chief Marketing Officer to get their view on who owns digital transformation and asked whether marketers are the prime candidate to take on this role.

Billy Seabrook, Global Chief Creative Officer, IBM iX

CEOs are increasingly turning to CMOs - their most customer-centric leaders - to drive growth and change through digital transformation. This is no small task considering there are more ways to engage customers than ever before, better technology and data to reach customers on their own terms, and intense competition for mindshare and share of wallet. These market forces have been further complicated by ad blocking technologies, shopper delegation to AI services, talent recruitment and retention challenges, siloed organizations with misaligned priorities and incentives, and digital service provider fragmentation.

In 2018, Watson became Wimbledon’s first AI tennis pundit 
"Market forces have been complicated by ad blocking technologies, shopper delegation, AI services, talent recruitment and retention challenges."
Billy Seabrook, Global Chief Creative Officer, IBM iX

To be successful in this transformation, CMOs need to become Chief Disruption Officers within their organisations and create new standards for not just engaging with their customers, but also working across their own enterprise. This impacts how they staff and upskill their own teams, introduce agile ways of working with other parts of the organisation, and choose strategic partners who have the experience and expertise to thrive in a state of perpetual change. Only then, will CMOs have the right environment and capabilities to “engineer” measurable outcomes through sophisticated data science, marketing automation, and AI-enhanced customer experience design.

"To be successful in this transformation, CMOs need to become chief disruption officers within their organisations."
Billy Seabrook, Global Chief Creative Officer, IBM iX

At IBM iX, we have partnered with leading brands across all industries on their digital transformations including Albertsons, BP, Japan Airline, State Street, VW, and many others. You can learn more about these stories and our approach to driving growth and change by design at ibmix.com.

In 2016, an IBM campaign attempted to change the world's perception of AI

Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer, Mastercard

Marketing is the rare function that exercises both the right and left brain, a combination of the creative and the analytical, which is holistic and gratifying. But, have we mastered our talents? There are more channels, platforms, touch points in the consumer journey and technologies to explore – like AI - than ever before. It will either make you feel like a kid in a candy store, or completely overwhelm you.

"There are more channels, platforms, touch points in the consumer journey and technologies to explore than ever before. It will either make you feel like a kid in a candy store, or completely overwhelm you."
Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer, Mastercard

At Mastercard, marketing talent transformation goes hand-in-hand with digital transformation. Starting with the integration of marketing and communications into one function, we’ve been on our journey for over three years now, and have an entire HR team embedded within our department to help ensure that we are not only recruiting top talent, but that we have the proper talent development and cross-training of the various disciplines – public relations, data analytics, digital marketing, etc – available to our team.

Marketing talent today must transcend the traditional, and encompass a fuller, more general manager mentality, one that can connect the dots between marketing KPIs and business essentials, or become obsolete. From mandatory training to an updated dedicated portal of resources to explore, our ongoing talent transformation is an imperative that’s critical to the advancement of both our brand and our business.

Raja Rajamannar is also a member of the CMO Growth Council.

Raja Rajamannar is one of nearly 100 speakers that have already been confirmed for Cannes Lions. See who else is speaking here.