Digital Disrupts the Org Chart
Marketing organizations are working hard to embrace digital — according to Forrester, this includes everything from utilizing bigger data that prioritizes customer needs, to spending more on mar-tech. But even as marketers funnel evermore of their budgets towards hiring specialists, working with vendors, and keeping pace in an ever-changing landscape, they’re still being outflanked by newer, more agile disruptors.
That’s because, over the last two decades, the CMO role has gotten increasingly complicated as digital has been shoehorned into it. For many leaders, marketing can feel like an entirely new world. But below the surface, most company organizational structures and ways of working haven’t really changed. Many companies had changed the work itself without changing how they worked.
But now they are. Established companies from the pre-internet era are learning what Silicon Valley has known all along: that “digital” isn’t just a technological novelty — it’s a foundational, organizing idea. They’re finding that transformation must go beyond just technology — evolving their workforce, culture, and processes is crucial to staying competitive. In fact, doing so is often more important — and more valuable — than the technologies themselves.
Companies are moving to “bottom-up” and “flatter” structures
When organizations apply digital-first design thinking across the board, they end up with very different org charts and operations. Those doing the work, and those closest to the customers, will be freer to organize, make decisions, and solve what’s getting in the way of bottom-line success. That’s because millennials are moving up and robots are moving in.
- Millennials (now the largest percentage of our workforce) are less loyal and expect autonomy. Though this may sound like a bad thing, millennials are also more driven by purpose than their predecessors. The combination of these traits means they aim to make an impact — whether they’re at the bottom of a big company or all on their own.
- AI and machine learning are making rote tasks obsolete. Today, 37% of millennials are at risk of their job being automated and replaced by artificial intelligence. Gartner even predicts that the majority of our customer service interactions will be automated by 2020.
Cross-departmental collaboration is making the entire business smarter — not just the media spend
Sometimes called the “cognitive” corporation, the CIO and CMO are working closer together than ever before. Marketing teams have often served as forces of innovation throughout the company, so positioning these teams to work closely with digital innovators ensures ideas can actually come to life.
Digital “swim lanes” are becoming moot
“Digital” is increasingly the standard for all media, and savvy organizations understand that when your customers are “digital,” everything is digital.
- With Addressable TV on the rise, makers of 30-second spots are increasingly functioning more like a rapid-response social content shop with niche targeting, multi-variant testing, and cultural salience year-round.
- In the near future, Out of Home will need to be tested in the same way as display ads and held to similar standards if conversion falls by the wayside.
- Customer Service is progressively requiring management through the lens of corporate reputation and purpose. Social media made care a spectator sport, and this is the result.
In this rapidly changing landscape, reactiveness is essential for marketers. Investing in technology isn’t enough — companies must focus on how work gets done internally to keep pace with the competition.
- Identify data that matters — focus on fewer, better numbers
- Don’t cheap out on decision-making assets (consider data an asset)
- Watch your customers more and your competitors less
Free the data
- Leverage the right third-party tools/tech to make data coherent at an enterprise level
- Automate the number-gathering — focus data people on answering questions
- Move analysts to the center (don’t let the data become accountable to pet projects)
- End swim lanes — focus on inter-dependent accountability (i.e., “stepping on toes” isn’t a problem, it’s by design)
- Map business-level KPIs to every manager—ensure everyone knows the numbers they need to hit for the business to succeed
- Make agencies and outsiders accountable to bottom line outcomes
Flatten the business
- De-value middle-management (if their job is to optimize output and team performance, make that their job)
- Incentivize talent at all levels of the company — fire faster when you need to
- Automate everywhere (ensure you’re ready for another billion people in China)
- Enhance lower-level competencies through rotations, network building, etc.
- Get more people aware of where the org is tracking
Test, learn, repeat
- Pilot change across all aspects of the business
- Expect flops (and budget accordingly)
- Ensure a culture of “go!” (not consensus)
- Empower leaders to outsource for speed, perspective, and new competencies
- Kill initiatives that don’t show big, 10x potential (force all leaders to think that way)
Want to know more?