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So what is the role of marketing in digital transformation? CMO’s, step up and get in the trenches

by Danique Wagemaker on 4 Jun 2019

We explore the role of marketing in digital transformation, and how the marketing function should change to support a digital-era organisation.

The most oft-cited reason for digital transformation: to transform the experience into something that customers expect and will enjoy — and keep the competition from getting there first. However, while 41% of organisations tell Forrester that marketing is the key owner of customer experience in their organisations, many CMOs are not necessarily part of the executive committee. And many of them do not really take an active role in the digital transformation journey. According to the Altimeter state of digital transformation report, only 23% of CMOs (co)own digital transformation, with IT more often taking the lead.

There’s arguably a real need for CMOs to step up their game. Dear marketing folks, CIOs cannot and should not try to do the trick alone – your organisation needs your help. Be bold, and take charge of disrupting the way marketing is done in your company. Command a seat at the table. In order to survive in the digital age, leadership needs to team up and get in the trenches to drive an organisation wide transformation towards customer centricity. And the role of marketing in this transformation is crucial.

Figure 1: CMO’s are less likely to be involved in digital transformation than their C-Suite peers

CMOs are less likely to be involved in digital transformation than their C-suite peers

“Who will be/is responsible for leading the strategy and execution of your firm’s most recent digital transformation?”

Source: Adapted from Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Business and Technology Services Survey 2018. Base: 2,391 global services decision makers who are involved in their company’s digital transformation.

So what is the role of marketing in digital transformation? And where should the marketing function change to support a digital-era organisation?

This article aims to answer these questions and is written by experts with deep experience in doing the work. We apply the 5 components of digital transformation to the marketing function, highlighting the latest trends and providing real industry examples. Our objective: to build the first comprehensive framework describing the role of marketing in digital transformation, and in turn to inform and inspire CMOs on their digital transformation journey.


Figure 2: Typical areas tackled in a digital transformation strategy

Typical areas tackled in a digital transformation strategy

Source: Riverflex series – Digital Transformation Done Right, February 2019


Digital Transformation: Disrupt business strategy in the face of an uncertain future

Business strategy provides companies with the means of navigating their digital transformation, prioritising digital innovation opportunities, and informing digital technology adoption. The CMO and brand strategists, as experts in, and evangelists for, the voice of the customer, can play a vital role within the strategy formulation process. Specifically by collaborating with other business leaders to shape an agile, human-centric business strategy.

While the future is increasingly ambiguous and too complex to predict, there is an emergent opportunity for the imaginative, innovative and bold marketing leader to create that future.

An example is Adidas, where one of the authors contributed to the development of Adidas’s  2020 business strategy ‘Creating the new’, as a member of the Brand Strategy team. This future-oriented and people-centric strategic plan were based around the strong vision that “through sport, we have the power to change lives”. Grounded within the Adidas culture of creators,  the plan acknowledged that Adidas’s people would bring the strategy to life, and had to be empowered to achieve Adidas’s long term plans. By making three strategic choices, namely ‘Speed’, ‘Cities’ and ‘Open Source’, Adidas established a framework for prioritising customer-centric digital transformation and innovation.

Marketing can bring a toolkit of foresight, trends, qualitative insights on emerging human needs and desires, creative imagination, and scenario planning to the business strategy table. Marry this with hard data, quantitative insights, and competitive market analysis, and marketers are in possession of a powerful toolkit to catalyse the conversation with a diverse set of cross-functional colleagues. Working together, they can paint vivid pictures that describe a range of compelling future scenarios for their organisation to focus on and to deliver value to customers and colleagues within. Forming a powerful basis for innovation strategies and execution in business models, products, services and customer experience.

Three focus areas for a CMO to help drive business strategy in the digital era

1. Reinvent your consumer insights development with modern (data) science.

Marketing nowadays is extremely well-positioned to exploit a multitude of methods and tools to inform consumer insights development. For example,  IKEA used applied neuroscience together with high-resolution EEG headsets and eye-trackers to understand customers’ reactions to new business models. Amongst these, a new solar offering that would allow customers to generate their own renewable energy.

CMO opportunity: Reinvent CMI departments, sponsoring and enabling alternative means for exploration and insight generation.

2. Drive fluid and future-oriented strategy development in order to capitalise on emerging opportunities

With changing customer expectations and accelerated technology evolution, organisations need to approach strategic planning with a more fluid, agile mindset. Especially in the digital age, focussing solely on hard data and long-term planning can kill many potentially great business model innovations before they can prove themselves. CMO’s can take a key role in balancing long-term vision and strategy development with imagination, creativity and flexibility. They should strive to build a human-centric insights and brand strategy capability to act as a counterpoint to traditional strategy development.

An example of how to drive a bolder strategy approach in a traditional environment is Nespresso, Nestlé’s coffee pod pioneer. Nespresso became a great success when it started redesigning their products and services to target households instead of offices. As Nestlé was moving into completely new territories, little quantitative market research data was available to back up how households would respond to the concept. The Nespresso team, however, strongly believed in the idea. To convince top management to take a greater than usual risk, they skillfully gathered and interpreted a broad range of qualitative and quantitative insights.

CMO opportunity: Adopt human-centric insights and brand strategy capabilities to frequently bring in alternative perspectives and inputs on the business model and value proposition innovation.

3. Follow through and deliver on strategy and planning in an agile fashion

Having a grand vision and ideas without agreement on who will be responsible for execution and ongoing investment often means the vision will remain just that. A common CMO challenge is to find a means of operationalising the strategy and (agile) planning to ensure the organisation follows through. To do so, it is important that there is a systematic and disciplined approach to align strategic goals vertically and cross-functionally at all organisational levels. Doing so ensures that strategic or tactical operating plans can be quickly be updated, renewed, or revised. This means that CMOs (together with their peers)  drive agile strategy planning, as well as the shift towards digitisation of solutions and agile organisational processes.

CMO opportunity: Drive creative and agile strategy mindset and planning, and push for agile processes to adopt and execute upon the vision.

New business models: Disrupt the role of marketing to drive business model, product & service innovation

In the digital era, customers have become increasingly empowered to make their own choices. In this shifting environment, the role of marketing is essentially being disrupted; only the marketers who are obsessing with customers and their changing needs and wants will succeed.
Changing from promoting and creating awareness for something we think people want, to servicing customers at every touchpoint and providing a platform for conversations and interactions that allow our customers to change for the better. Adopting a service-design mind and skill set enables marketers to set the right business processes and organisational frameworks to conceive digital product, service and business model innovation.

Three focus areas for marketing to drive the innovation of products and services

1. Adopt modern methods to inform and design human-centric experience, product and service innovations.

In modern marketing innovation, the focus is on what people need, their pain points and passions, in order to create satisfied and happy customers for the brand. The aim is to understand the emotional and practical value that will make a real difference to people, and then create valuable offerings and experiences that will ideally surprise and over-deliver on expectations. While conventional marketing is often inside-out, driven solely by internal goals such as “ how do we grow the business?”, digital-era marketing is focussing more outside-in, emphasising the customer perspective. Adopting service design thinking and methods —  such as Google design sprints, value proposition design, the business model canvas –, customer-centric innovation of products, services and experiences will be enabled, through building up empathy, co-creation with customers or partners, experimentation and fast iteration cycles of potential ideas and concepts.

Marketing is the keeper of customer intelligence. By means of introducing qualitative research techniques such as self-reporting, ethnography, in-depth interviews, and in-life use trials, it can enable true empathy with peoples’ hidden needs. This is to ensure that customers are at the center and forefront of the innovation. While this might sound straightforward, 41% of companies are making investments without thorough customer research (Altimeter).

Such a rich tapestry of insight adds to the strategic grounding that teams need to create game-changing product and service ideas that people love to use and engage with. This is what will ultimately drive exponential business growth.

A good example of what impact this can have is Starbucks. Back in 2007, sales and margins were dropping in the food & beverage industry. Starbucks interviewed hundreds of coffee drinkers, to define what they were looking for in a coffee shop. The key insight was that they were not actually looking for coffee, but a place of relaxation and belonging. And a good atmosphere. Based on this, the Starbucks store was designed as an experience. Round tables were strategically created to protect self-esteem for coffee-drinkers by themselves (no empty seats at a round table). Warm materials like wood and stone for the service counters to create a friendly atmosphere. The impact being, of course, the possibility to set premium prices for the coffee.

CMO opportunity: drive the adoption of service design methodologies in the product marketing and innovation process, for more outside-in and game-changing ideas.

2. Scale the innovation and drive the product or service to market successfully by using lean-startup approaches.

In many companies, marketing is disenfranchised from the product development process, often being relegated to creating awareness, sending out press releases and coordinating new product launch events. The big opportunity for CMOs in digital transformation and hence product, service and customer experience innovation is to push for an early collaboration. Meaning marketing professionals working within integrated, cross-functional teams with people from other functions in a lean-startup fashion, using e.g. business hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, validated learning, and innovation accounting. This to reduce market risks for the business as a whole, circumventing expensive product launches and failures. Marketing can start small, and go big when the concept, audience, and ROI has been proven. Also allowing CMO’s (and peers) to get the best bang for their investment buck – allocating resources and funds to the place with the highest impact.

At a major travel loyalty organisation, one of the authors led a cross-functional team, with Marketing colleagues at the core and as representatives of the customer. The goal was to transform the user experience of one of their main channels to market. This entailed bringing to life the experiences offered by the organisation, delivering highly compelling new experiences, and eliminating existing pain points. Through a series of rapid design thinking sprints, the team identified personas and user-case scenarios, which were consequently sorted into several categories. Firstly, those that brought to life the ‘North Star’ vision for the platform (“a few years in the future from now”), which were later turned into a highly compelling set of assets used for colleague engagement. Secondly, these scenarios formed the basis for a suite of Quick Wins – things that could be changed on the existing platform to show “the art of the possible”. And, last but not least, many of the scenarios went on to form the basis of both the brand new platform delivered, and its roadmap for the following 18 months.

CMO opportunity: Push for early collaboration of marketing in the product and service development cycle, using experimentation, prototyping, and consumer feedback to increase success and optimise ROI.

3. Embrace new marketing and data based business models.  

In a quite different perspective, we also see CMOs looking into the value of data, media, and consumer insights as a business model on its own. Having advanced customer understanding and mature data insight capabilities has huge potential for value exchange in the marketplace. Similarly, media monetisation can serve as an additional revenue stream, even if the core product is something completely different. Kroger, a large US-based grocery chain, is doing this. They generate new revenue by selling digital advertising space to consumer packaged goods (CPG’s) brands, targeting ads at the customer as they walk through the store. Funds generated from this can be used to fuel digital growth and innovation in other areas.

CMO opportunity: Explore and enable alternative business models for marketing and media to help fuel overall business growth and innovation.

Customer & channels: Disrupt the remit of marketing to own the vision of the full customer experience

The explosion in channels and respective touchpoints has lead to fragmented ownership and servicing of the customer experience.  Departments often have different understandings and perspectives of what this should be, leading to uncoordinated efforts and investments across functions to improve this. The CMO can play a vital role in bringing this together. Acting as the glue between departments, marketing can set a holistic vision of what the CX should be, and where to differentiate and excel. Especially as consumers move seamlessly between multiple channels, they expect a similar brand experience across all channels.

CMO opportunity: Take ownership of defining a clear CX vision, driving the adoption of an aligned brand experience and voice across functions, touchpoints, customer journeys and brand interactions.

Three focus areas for marketing to drive change in customer & channels

1. Shift marketing focus from product- to human-centric, and push to pull.

Traditionally, organisations would organise their marketing activity and campaigns from a product and service push perspective. Nowadays, a shift is taking place towards creating a pull effect – trying to get customers coming for you. This trend can be observed in FMCG players increasingly looking to go direct to consumer – trying to build customer relationships based on understanding and championing of customer needs and beliefs, and combining this with fitting experiences.

A good example is Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company that has shifted from pitching their products and services, to delivering information, platform, and services to help customers solve problems and make it easier for users to achieve their goals.

CMO opportunity: Push for human-centric and pull marketing strategies, where customer needs are combined with fitting experiences to build valuable relationships.

2. Expand marketing focus and performance management to omnichannel.

Most organisations have already shifted to more integrated marketing efforts. However, it is often the case that the budget allocations and KPIs have remained traditional and channel focused. This means that omnichannel marketing impact – especially from offline to online – is overlooked or not considered. In digital transformation, the CMO should consider orchestrating marketing activities from an omnichannel perspective. Enabled by omnichannel performance KPIs and driver trees, as well as attribution models. This will create transparency on the interdependencies of channels and their respective performance. It will also allow the prioritisation of resources and investment where they will have the largest impact on the customer experience and delivery of financial benefits.

At a global fashion brand, where one of the authors worked as a consultant, a huge effort was made by the brand team to improve the store experience. This to increase brand engagement as well as footfall. However, where digital channels could have boosted the awareness of these new concepts, the online search team was not connected.  When made aware, they still did not have the budget and incentive to optimise for brand and retail-related search traffic. This meant that the initiative was hard to find online, leading to an opportunity loss in volume online as well as in-store.

CMO opportunity: Orchestrate marketing activity from an omnichannel perspective to prioritise resources and investment for optimal impact.

3. Exploit experiential marketing with immersive experiences.
Digital technology has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for brands, looking at the creation of engaging and immersive campaigns and magical brand experiences. There is a huge opportunity for marketing to think outside of the box, collaborating with IT and third parties to use new technologies. For example, at SKII, they combined augmented reality and advanced analytic capabilities to analyse the customer’s skin type through a “digital mirror”, providing instant skincare recommendations. Rolex uses an augmented reality app, enabling people to experience what the watch would look like (proportionate size and shape dimension) on their wrist.  LVMH in 2018 has strengthened the online and in-store digital capabilities to improve shopping experiences. And Burger King recently launched a campaign where customers could ‘burn’ competitor ads on billboards to get a voucher for a free Whopper.

CMO opportunity: Get the marketing function over the fear of working with technology, and foster collaboration with IT departments and partners.

Agile transformation: Disrupt marketing ways of working to improve customer relevancy and time to market

Agile transformation enables organisations to consistently and quickly respond in the face of change, delight customers, and achieve excellence through engaged employees all working together towards common goals. Although often initiated by CIOs in IT, the whole organisation needs to move towards a holistic agile mindset and way of working to reap the full benefits. And CMOs should confidently push forward to own and drive that change, to drive an increased level of customer focus and business value.

Three focus areas for marketing to drive agile transformation

1. Adopt agile marketing planning.

While conventional marketing relies on big ideas, big-bang launches and budgets, agile marketing is focused on micro strategies, big insights and rapid iterations with a learning curve. This means stepping away from annual campaign plans, planning, and budgeting to adjust objectives, jobs to be done, and budgets more frequently based on value and impact (e.g. customer segments to acquire, parts of the customer decision journey to improve).

CMO opportunity: Revisit the annual planning cycles shifting to more frequent updates on objectives, and agile allocations based on expected impact and value created.

2. Shape and enable multidisciplinary marketing teams for speed.

In agile marketing, small multidisciplinary teams are experimenting and testing for success. Key in agile marketing teams are the people. They should have skills across multiple functions (both in-house and 3rd party), be dedicated (so not on top of a full time job), and colocated. Next to that, they need to be enabled with the right marketing technology infrastructure, sufficient data, and sponsorship from senior leadership. This was to support their ‘different’ ways of working compared to the rest of the organisation, and enabling teams to tap into core services from other non-agile departments like legal without losing speed. The CMO and marketing leadership need to push to get these foundations in place, as the agile approach won’t work without it.

CMO opportunity: Reap the benefits of agile marketing by establishing multidisciplinary teams. Set them up for success with key enablers and skillsets to increasing time to market and effectiveness of activity.

Figure 3: Example make up of an agile marketing team

agile team

3. Embed data driven thinking in day-to-day marketing operations.

Inherent to agile ways of working comes the usage of data to drive and optimise activity. However, this is often not naturally embedded in processes. Marketing leadership should champion and facilitate this shift in operations and thinking by, for example, ensuring that the right audiences are defined and created in the campaign process. They should also ensure that a measurement and tagging plan is established and implemented, with targets set in advance based on previous learnings. The campaign, channel, and audience performance should be analysed during and after the campaign, and optimisations done in-flight based on these insights to get to the best results and outcomes. This often has implications for the operating model and collaboration between functions, as well as capabilities and skills within (agile) teams.

At a global FMCG, where one of the authors worked as a consultant, a large programme was undertaken to build the data technology capabilities to drive more intimate relationships with consumers. However, technology did not solve for agility or a data driven mindset in the organisation – and as a consequence value was not being captured from the large and costly undertaking. Leadership recognised that a more in-depth transformation of the mindset and way of working of marketing was needed to bring this initiative to succeed. A workstream was started to really co-create with teams what approach should look like (cross-departmental), and define how to include data and agility in the process in a meaningful way. Defining what use cases they could start with, and what support and skillsets they would need to have to make this happen. Only when the leadership started to sponsor and enable these changes — supporting e.g. colocation, experimentation, and upskilling initiatives — a shift started to happen in the way marketing was done. Defining and delivering use cases that created real value for the consumers and organisation.

CMO opportunity: Drive the adoption of data and insights in day to day processes, ensuring the right operating model and skillsets are in place.

Next gen operations: Disrupt in-house roles and responsibilities for more ownership and digitisation

Digital technology has tremendously increased the possibilities for organisations to work more effectively and efficiently. Processes can be digitised, removing manual paperwork and speeding up coordination and reporting. Next to that processes can also be innovated, automated, or maybe even AI-enabled.

For marketing, next gen operations is a topic that is often overlooked, but the opportunity is huge. And change is often very necessary to enable the shift in the other areas of transformation. Especially in large incumbent organisations, where there is usually very high dependency on agencies, leaving little capability in-house. Multiple third parties often cover a fragmented set of responsibilities in the customer experience landscape, separated by channel, split in above and below the line, and operating on different sets of (channel) KPIs. To transform into a lean, mean, modern marketing machine, we’ve seen CMO’s drive change in the below three areas.

Three focus areas for Marketing to drive next gen operations

1. Take control and bring brains back in-house.
The increase in channels over the years has led to an expansion of teams that are managing and coordinating the agencies. This often leads to a lot of duplication in (administrative) activities and other inefficiencies. To highlight, Unilever states in its annual report that in-house teams are creating content faster and around 30% cheaper than external agencies. And in a survey of 149 marketers by the Association of National Advertisers, 35% said they had reduced the work they brief to agencies after bolstering their in-house programmatic expertise.

At a global FMCG, where one of the authors worked as a consultant, the decision was made to take an incremental approach to moving the social listening and engagement capability from outsourced to in-house. This took the form of embedding the third party team in-house, increasingly blended with the FMCG’s permanent employees, with the ultimate roadmap destination being full staffing by permanent employees.  The benefits: the learning on-ramp that the organisation’s employees gained from the third party SMEs, and the collaboration and communication benefits of having the third party physically co-located.

Figure 4: How advertisers are taking programmatic marketing back in-house

Source: Adapted from the association of national advertisers, 2017

Next to that, the high degree of outsourcing makes process innovation and optimisation very hard – and the shift to customer centric marketing nearly impossible. The usage of own data has become highly critical for effective marketing but is often too sensitive to share with 3rd party organisations. Many organisations are therefore shifting strategy, planning, and execution capabilities back in-house.

CMO opportunity:  Shift strategy, planning, and critical execution capabilities back in house to enable modern (agile) ways of working and cross-channel coordination.

2. Leverage the hell out of marketing automation, machine learning, and voice technology.

Marketing automation streamlines, automates, improves, and measures marketing activity. This allows to be more efficient, increase revenue, and improve customer experience. According to Salesforce (registration required), 67% of marketing leaders rely on marketing automation, and 21% plan to implement a new marketing automation platform in the year ahead. And not without reason. Following Forbes, 82% of marketers recognized a positive return on investment (ROI) from marketing automation and said that it makes them more efficient.

Application varies from automating activity within channels like email/CRM to reduce manual workload and time spent, to more interesting applications in complex situations, such as cross channel next best action flows. With machine learning and AI, even the tweaking of the workflow is largely automated – often optimising beyond human capability. Voice technology (e.g. AI-driven chatbots) is increasingly being used for automation and empowerment of customer interaction.

CMO opportunity: Automate everything, only bringing the human touch where it really makes a difference in creativity and customer experience – or where it is demonstrable that it is financially prohibitive to do so.

3. Centralize & defragment marketing operations.

Highly qualified marketing professionals often spend a lot of time on operational activities like administration and implementation contracts and chasing internal and third parties in the campaign process. However, these activities often do not need specific brand, campaign or local knowledge. Efficiency can be gained by creating a marketing operations hub, lifting this capacity drain from the team, and investing in workflow management technology that can make this process as easy and efficient as possible.

At a global FMCG, where one of the authors worked as a consultant, each brand historically reported the performance of their marketing communications activity differently. This made it impossible to compare return on marketing communications budget investment. To address this issue, they worked closely with the CMO and brand managers to introduce a KPI reporting framework, to be consistently used across the entire portfolio and accessed via a set of interactive dashboards. Not only that, it acted as a conversation starter across brands, categories and functions, to share knowledge and experience. It provided the basis for ensuring closer alignment between strategic marketing objectives and the tactical results delivered by each of the brands within the portfolio. And it acted as a foundation for future augmentation via, for example, closer integration with shopper marketing KPIs.

CMO opportunity:  Centralise non critical and generic activity, lifting this from the marketing teams to fully focus on value based delivery and improvements.

Technology transformation: Disrupt the use of business technology to get the marketing foundations right

Marketing enabled by technology can result in faster processes, better decision-making and customer engagement. However, many organisations are struggling to use new technology to support their marketing efforts. According to research from Nielson in 2018, 74% of CMOs have little to no confidence that they have the right technology in place to achieve their marketing goals. They often rely on systems that are functional or channel specific, and a customer view that is outdated, fragmented – and often limited in usage due to changing customer data and privacy regulations. With the changing customer expectations and shifts towards hyper personalisation, a good marketing foundation is essential – now more than ever.

Three focus areas for marketing to drive technology transformation

1. Implement data platforms as foundational capability to marketing success.

Relying on CRM systems is no longer sufficient to have a full picture of customers. It often only indicates what they did in the past. Organisations need to start combining data and analytics from multiple sources to create a more holistic and real-time view of the customer, using transaction data as well as other internal and external data sources (location data, social media data). To establish this, data platforms (e.g. Hadoop, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) and API integrations (e.g. Mulesoft) are essential. Next to that, a visualisation layer is required to extract value from the data collected (e.g. Tableau, QliqView, Datarama). It is, therefore, no surprise that in a research study performed by Nielson in 2018, 79% of CMOs reported expecting to invest more in marketing analytics and attribution in the coming year.  And in a research study from Ascend2, 51% of survey participants marked the usage of data analytics for decision-making as a top priority for their marketing and data technology strategy.

Figure 5: The top priorities for a marketing and data technology strategy


Source: Adapted from Ascend2 study of 233 marketing professionals conducted in 2018  

Of course, it is also important to have a clearly defined data strategy. This entails taking into account what data the organisation really needs and wants to know (also from an ethical perspective), and ensuring the protection of customers’ data privacy with appropriate technologies and transparency. An example of what not to do is Cambridge Analytica.

CMO opportunity:  Be the key advocate and champion for data platform foundations as the core enabler of marketing in the digital age.

2. Enable precision marketing and personalisation with a modern marketing stack.

To increase relevancy and ROI, precision marketing and personalisation have been the marketing buzz words for a while now. Digital technology and data capabilities have made it increasingly possible to reach the target audience in a more precise manner, and provide highly personalised content and experiences. Marketing should put in place a technology layer to automate and execute the solutions required to enable the processing and delivery of insights and actions in live workflow environments. This of course on top of the foundational data platform capabilities.

CMO opportunity: Invest in marketing execution layers that support precision marketing and highly personalised experiences.

3. Use advanced technology and science to curate and create engaging customer experiences.

Traditional advertising is losing its effectiveness, and ad blocker software continue to rise in popularity. To attract and retain customers, marketing is increasingly adopting technology to curate content, video, and online and offline experiences that are relevant, refreshing and valuable. Companies (e.g Alibaba) are maintaining high customer engagement by refreshing the experience using AI, data analytics, and cloud solutions to generate a visual content style, ecommerce layout, and copywriting at scale. Pinterest retains its customers by using deep learning technology that provides relevant recommendations triggering attention from its customers.

CMO opportunity:  Drive the usage of technology that curates content relevant to consumers, enabling rich and fulfilling experiences at scale.

Closing thoughts:

Disrupting the way marketing operates is key for organisations to sustain or build their competitive edge in the digital age. While IT needs to have a major role in how that is done, marketers are the ones who can best inform the target customer experience landscape. As it improves customer relevancy, customer experience, product and service innovation, and speed to market, the stakes are high to get it right! CMO’s need to take ownership and get hands-on with digital transformation.

This piece has presented an overview of the key areas of transformation from a CMO and marketing perspective, and the starting point to actually execute the change.  

We hope we have provided you with valuable insights and inspired you to fearlessly take on the challenge of marketing organizational transformation. In our upcoming articles, we will zoom in on the more detailed ‘how to’s’ for its different areas, with tips on how to change and get real value out of transformation.

Below is a bit more about Riverflex and the authoring team:

Riverflex is a new type of consulting firm. We deliver digital expertise and value by tapping into the open-talent ecosystem combining top consultants with the power of independent specialists — providing digital consulting, contracting, and interim management services. For more information visit us at

Contributors to this article:

Danique Wagemaker, digital strategy and transformation consultant. Former Deloitte Digital Manager specialised in digital strategy and marketing transformation, ex-Google digital advertising strategist.  Past clients include Ahold Delhaize, Unilever, Adidas, Philips, and Danone

Stefanie Knoren, former Director Global Digital Strategy at Adidas, providing leadership, innovation, facilitation of digital ecosystem strategy and business transformation. Executive Director Strategy, Product & Client Management, and Studio Lead at SinnerSchrader part of Accenture Interactive. Now independent digital transformation and innovation consultant and Riverflex member.

Marcos Moret, digital transformation and innovation consultant, with experience of leading initiatives across a range of industries (incl. retail, telecoms, travel, FMCG) companies (incl. Avios, Britvic, Coca-Cola, Kingfisher, O2), and scenarios (incl. loyalty and e-commerce platforms, digital marketing and marketing automation, value chain automation, workplace productivity).

Sheau Pei Chong, CTO at PQR, Riverflex member, experience in leading digital innovation and transformation across industries. Before PQR, she worked for Fortune 500 organizations, including Aegon, Philips, Nestle.



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