Forrester CMO explains how CMOs should approach GDPR and evolve their roles

The CMO role is expanding from a heavy focus on acquisition to the broader remit of experiences.

As the deadline for GDPR looms, chief marketing officers (CMOs) should assume that GDPR and any other regulations that will be introduced in the future, will become the global law of the land.

While the headline issues are centered on data privacy currently after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the ‘big fish’ under the water is data governance, which is extraordinarily technical, hard, and sometimes downright political, according to Victor Milligan, chief marketing officer of market research firm Forrester in a conversation with The Drum.

“This is a shared burden and a real mandate to move beyond data silos to enterprise-wide governance, orchestration, and ultimately, stewardship on behalf of customers,” explains Milligan.

“And stewardship is where data meets privacy as CMOs will do two things that can seem at odds with each other: leverage data to deliver individualised experience that create value for that single human being while avoiding crossing the ‘creep-line’ or abusing that data at the expense of that person’s privacy.”

In other words, this means the CMO role is expanding from a heavy focus on acquisition to the broader remit of experiences across the prospect and customer life cycles, which is crucial to drive growth, to calibrate brand promise and the experiences delivered, and as the different ‘as a Service’ expands, to stimulate use and engagement, says Milligan.

“None of this can be done without mastering data and technology to deliver individualized experiences at scale. And here we need to pay close attention to artificial intelligence: which has the power to deliver individualized experiences; it also has the power to create acute brand risk as we have seen with facial, racial profiling,” he adds.

Talent has also become a hot topic as brands, agencies and consultancies fight over the best, which Milligan attributes to CMOs increasingly rethinking organisational design and as the gig economy takes shape.

“This is creating acute risk and opportunity; but hints at a new world of organizational structures that go beyond matrices to a more dynamic structure, build on a “best athlete” core talent, and ensures rapid and flexible access to scarce expertise,” he explains.

The Drum previously spoke to Alicia Tillman, CMO at software giant SAP, who like Milligan, shared that the mindsets of CMOs have evolved from a product-centric mindset to a more customer-centric one, as it is no longer just about developing eye-catching campaigns.

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