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CMOs - an endangered species?

13/11/2013

McDonald's recently appointed former Amazon and Yahoo! executive Atif Rafiq as chief digital officer in a bid to drive innovation, highlighting the recent trend of appointing online experts to marketing positions.

News UK recently joined the trend by hiring Andrew Day, general manager of business intelligence at Telefonica UK, as head of its business intelligence division, reports Marketing Magazine.

What does this mean for chief marketing officers (CMOs)? Is their role in jeopardy, or are they simply being asked to engage with new projects and work more closely with their colleagues across the corporate world?

Mr Day, who will report directly to group chief executive Mark Darcey, does not believe the emergence of new positions such as his will lead to the demise of marketing officers.

"It's not a land-grab. Information is power, but different functions build their own version of the truth. Historically, when there has been a sales data warehouse, as well as ones for customer service, financial and marketing, you would have four different answers to any given question," he explained.

Moving to single source of customer data offers a more holistic approach and makes it easier for marketers to take advantage of information and target their ads more effectively, added Mr Day.

Despite concerns that CMOs could become more peripheral to businesses, it appears more likely that they will need to learn the importance of cooperation and link up with people from different parts of their business.

Amanda Mackenzie, chief marketing and communications officer at Aviva, admitted that "as with any function", if marketing does not achieve its aims then it will find itself sidelined.

"How you make your business benefit from digital is not just a question of focusing on the customer, but you need to be very clear about the scope of these roles," she added.

Naturally CMOs need to adopt to the new digital landscape, with the resulting changes to their own role this could bring about.