A Glimpse of the Future . . . Why Technology Matters To CMOs and Marketing Leaders Now More Than Ever

I was fortunate to participate in a recent Forbes CMO Network invitation only event designed to explore how technology is presenting new ways for CMOs to think about, plan, and execute their marketing strategies.

The event, “Funding the Next Wave of Digital Disruption: An Insider’s View of the New Companies & Technologies Transforming Marketing,” hosted at the offices of leading venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) provided a unique insider’s view of the newest cutting-edge companies and technologies coming out of Silicon Valley.

I left the event with an even stronger belief that marketing and technology are forever intertwined. And, as highlighted in my "The CMO’s Role In Technology Purchasing" report (subscription required), it’s time to ramp up your technology IQ now or risk being left behind. Why now?

  1. Technology innovation to enhance customer engagement is coming fast and furious. Since 1995, legendary Mary Meeker has accurately predicted the most important technology dynamics and their impact on business and consumers, from the rise of the Internet to the spread of mobile computing and the growing importance of China. Since joining KPCB in 2010, Mary’s track record of investing in companies that matter has been impressive. Clearly, when Mary talks, the industry listens. And it was no different at this event. Mary provided a crisp and invigorating outlook for important evolving technology trends in social, commerce, media, and mobile monetization, what Mary calls “the reimagination of everything.” Here at Forrester, James McQuivey, our leading analyst and author on this subject (Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation), refers to this phenomena as digital disruption, we agree with Mary’s premise that every conceivable human activity is in the process of being disrupted and transformed — from connectivity (mobile phones) to purchases and cash registers (Square), manufacturing (3D printers), and even education (Codecademy).
  2. Influence is rising in importance. Up to 80% of today’s buyers begin their purchase journey with a referral from their network. With a referral in hand, buyers control the rest of their purchase journey, trusting validation and messaging from their network significantly more than from vendors. With this in mind, you must understand and begin to incorporate influence into your brand strategy. Look to new vendors that measure and monitor influence such as Klout and Appinions to explore the possibilities. My upcoming report, “How To Build A Strong B2B Brand” (subscription required), will explore this subject in more detail and provide practical advice on how to incorporate influence into your brand strategy.
  3. Curating content effectively is the final frontier. There is no doubt that the right content at the right time in the right context helps customers solve their business problems. But, at Forrester, we hear over and over again how CMOs are challenged to create and curate great content customers care about, want to buy into, participate in and share with peers and social media connections. Content curation capabilities developed by Flipboard provide an interesting alternative to solving this challenge. By collecting and curating information and stories into magazines on any topic imaginable, Flipboard provides a platform for businesses to build their thought leadership and tell their brand story in new ways. Cisco Futurist Feed  is just one example of how brands are putting technology such as Flipboard into practice.

For CMOs, staying current on technology and understanding how to incorporate tech into your strategy is becoming more and more complex. You must have a defined way to investigate and incorporate the right technology into your go-to-market strategy. Learn how you should approach developing your marketing technology strategy in my “The CMO's Role In Technology Purchasing” report (subscription required).

Are you keeping up with new technology advances? Are you making the right technology decisions? I’d love to hear your comments and perspectives about this topic. Please reach out to me at via email, on my blog, or on my Twitter account with your thoughts.


Nice post Sheryl Yes

Nice post Sheryl

Yes technology matters more than ever to CMOs/Marketers and the issue is, marketers cannot plan the tech landscape without understanding the disruption to their business models. So one has to understand the business model transformation 2-3 years outwards and work backwards for the marketing technology selection.

More than ever, there is increasing pressure in the B2B space to look at execution aspects of 'thought leadership' (as time-to-market is not the same as it was in the past) and bring out stories of B2B2C ( if they are positioned in such a way in the value chain).

Amercian Express's open forum for small business owners creates utility value. This will build 'social capital' and re-define the value proposition from the bank, so the marketing tech requirements need to based on this re-defined value proposition path and work backwards.

- Ramesh ( Twitter @Ramesh_Ramki)
Blog site www.futuristCMO.com

Hi Ramesh, Thank you for your

Hi Ramesh,

Thank you for your comment. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the post.

I do agree that CMOs need to consider the future disruption of their business model as well as their future value proposition.

However, there is work to be done to improve customer engagement in the existing business model that technology should support and enhance. My post highlighted only a few interesting companies and areas that CMO should be thinking about today as well as in the future

The Speed of Trust: Marketing

I believe we have only seen the tip of the iceburg when it comes to "software persuasion" - whether we are influencers or decision makers, enterprise or consumer buyers - we are processing enormous information in this "digitally immersive" world.

But a lot of marketing technology hasn't worked in the past, because it is so "abstracted" from the human experience, and in fact "interrupts" the human experience.

Content marketing - and storytelling - are becoming more important than ever because people have more choices on how to spend their time, on and off the grid. They are able to now control their digital lives with more precision and better tools, given powerful mobile devices, for example, and ubiquitous access to the web.

If you're going to ask for somebody's time and attention, make it worth their while. Follow a spin on the golden rule: "Communicate under others as you would have them communicate unto you."

People still buy from people. Trust speeds the way.

Hi Cynthia, Thank you for

Hi Cynthia,

Thank you for your comment. I couldn't agree more that content marketing and storytelling are becoming more important to help cut through the clutter. What's important is to provide the right content to the right person at the right time to help move them along their buying journey.

When you provide buyers with what they are looking for when they need it, trust is built as a buy product.

Keep the discussion going!

It all depends...

Disclosure: I'm VP/Marketing @sprinklr

So, I think the 3 points you outlined are spot on. There's no question on #1, but the challenge of #2 and #3 is in whether the CMO's org had a unified view of the customer and the context.

Let's say a prospect's first entry point to a brand is via the referral by a colleague to a support portal entry where the colleague has demonstrated how a given product can solve someone's problem.

The prospect engages in a discussion with some others on the support portal (registering via LinkedIn OAuth) and with the help of a Customer Service community manager, reaches the conclusion that the product might be good for him and engages through a marketing channel.

W/o that prior visibility, the CMO is going to be handicapped in providing a truly relevant experience.

As for curated content....I think that is an entirely different challenge. It's not just creating the content, it's on creating the right type of content and resisting the urge to talk about the brand, instead focusing on delivering value.

When all is said and done, brands must create real, human relationships...at scale...with their customers. This is done in the same way that individuals do with their network, by focusing on the others, not on themselves.

Hi Jeremy, Thank you for your

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for your comment. Glad to see that you agree with the points I made I made in this post.

And, I do agree with your contention that CMOs should have a unified view of the customer in context to be effective.

The challenge as you rightly point out is to have that visibility, integrate it into a whole and create one to one relationships with customers at scale.

Relationships at scale=

Well, I'm biased, but we call it "Social@Scale" ;-)

Hi Jeremy, social@scale is an

Hi Jeremy,

social@scale is an interesting concept that captures the challenge/opportunity, a great reason to be biased!