Jada Balster, Adobe: "Future CMOs must be multi-talented"

Adobe Workfront's Jada Balster describes the complex challenges CMOs will face in the post-pandemic era in her guest post.

Over the past 18 months, customer needs transformed overnight. Meeting them has been a mammoth task - one that has sometimes been shoved onto marketing departments. To do more with less, many marketers have been looking for processes and tools to help them drive growth at all times, regardless of the challenge. The goal: transform today's marketing to help shape an ideal future.

The current Report "Tomorrow's CMO: The CMO of Tomorrow and the Generation of Change in Marketing" by Adobe Workfront shows why future chief marketing officers (CMOs) want to achieve this leadership position to change the way marketing works. The findings paint a picture of what characteristics and attitudes these future CMOs will bring to the boardroom.

Despite the challenges currently facing marketing executives, just about every marketer surveyed in Germany (96.4 percent) aspires to become a CMO. The study shows that the biggest motivator for a career as a future CMO is not money or notoriety, but the opportunity to innovate and change marketing for the better (23.2 percent).

They see opportunities to drive change in marketing through investment in the following areas: First, building a culture of creativity (51.6 percent); second, technology that enables communication and information sharing across teams and investors (46.8 percent); third, less distraction from using many different digital tools (44.0 percent); and fourth, more insight into top business priorities and strategy (43.2 percent).

Tech-savvy marketing experts

Future CMOs are not only innovative, but also tech-savvy. They know about the advantages and opportunities that the right technology can offer. For example, the study shows that 68.8 percent of marketing experts in Germany regularly use data to make informed decisions. Nearly three-quarters rely on technology to first and foremost streamline marketing workflows and resources (72 percent); second, manage more multi-faceted campaigns, programs and creative resources (71.6 percent); third, customize the customer journey (70 percent); and fourth, demonstrate the value of marketing to the rest of the organization (67.6 percent).

Creativity - regardless of location

More than half of those surveyed in Germany (53.6 percent) agree that creativity suffered during the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions. Two-thirds (66 percent) plan to reintroduce face-to-face meetings to encourage creative thinking when the workforce returns to the office. At the same time, most also enjoy the freedoms that remote working brings and are concerned that their autonomy will be limited by a return to the office (55.6 percent).

The next generation of CMOs recognizes that technology can help create space for creativity and innovation at the same time (35.2 percent), without compromising where they work. As a result, more than two-thirds (70.4 percent) already want to see investment in technologies that foster a culture of creativity and provide clear creative processes.

The future CMOs are multi-talented

In addition to leadership skills, strategic thinking, excellent communication, and an understanding of marketing, it is the ability to lead in a constantly evolving environment that determines the success or failure of a CMO.

The survey also shows that tomorrow's CMOs believe they need to develop a broad range of skills to become leaders who drive innovation and growth in their organizations. These broader skills include first, data analytics, finance, project management and work coordination (33.6 percent); second, people management and motivation (22 percent); and fourth, business strategy and digital transformation (24.8 percent).

Future CMOs also understand the work itself differently. They understand that marketing must be managed strategically, with the same level of process and technological sophistication as all other business-critical functions, such as finance, sales, HR and IT.

40.8 percent of them believe that managing the work - orchestrating, executing and measuring strategic work - is the biggest challenge for today's CMO. The next generation of CMOs will face this challenge. Nearly two-thirds (59.6 percent) of marketers believe that technology is important for Work Management, connecting people, processes, data and technology to optimize and coordinate work.

The experience of a global pandemic has given tomorrow's CMOs the impetus to innovate and drive positive change in the industry. They are committed to combining the art and science of marketing and want to educate themselves accordingly.

It's incumbent on today's CMOs to identify ways to help their teams address these changes now. Because to create exceptional customer experiences, marketing teams need to be agile, creative and fast.

* Jada Balster is Head of International Marketing at Adobe Workfront.

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