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Why the Data Surge Is Elevating Our Role

By Linh Ho on August 15, 2019


A few weeks ago, I had the honor of moderating an amazing panel of CMOs for a conDati hosted, sold out event called Data Night Seattle. The topic for the evening is always a hot one: Turning Marketing Data into Business Growth. It just so happened that all the CMO panelists were women (unplanned) and all powerhouse business-builders, responsible for driving a combined growth of nearly $30B. It’s not surprising then, that our discussion was packed with lively, fresh and valuable insights (plus lots of sage advice) for those in the room.

Joining me center stage were:

Christy Marble elissa frank Denise-Pearson-Snowflake-CMO Lynn Girotto
Christy Marble
Chief Marketing Officer
Visier Inc.
Elissa Fink
Recent CMO at Tableau
and current serial Board member and University of Washington Adjunct Professor
Denise Persson
Chief Marketing Officer
Lynn Girotto
(providing closing remarks)
Chief Marketing Officer

Because of the volume of insightful information shared by these extraordinary leaders, we decided to package up the highlights and publish them in a series of blogs so everyone can benefit.

Data “Has Our Back”

This first blog focuses on how today’s overwhelming data surge is actually a good thing for marketing leaders. In most organizations, no matter the size, we have become the data analytics torch bearers. The proliferation of AI and machine learning (ML) tools now give us access to a level of customer experience and personalization data that even five years ago we could only dream about.

"If you’re using tools that aren’t using AI or ML to do better for you, then you probably want to look around."
—Elissa Fink

A recent industry analyst report noted that in growth organizations, CMO tech spend is now greater than the CIO tech spend. Not surprising! And results of a recent Forbes study reported that 53% of marketers plan to adopt AI and machine learning within the coming 18 months to help crunch data faster and at scale. CMOs and marketing leaders are now relied upon to not only more accurately forecast marketing spend as it impacts YoY revenue projections (we’ve assumed a business growth advisor role), we are likely considered the smartest data person in the room. This brings pressure to be sure, but also allows us to far more confidently take our seat at the leadership table because our data “has our back” like never before.

We Are Corporate Officers Driving Business Growth

I asked the panel about the data surge and how technologies like AI and ML are changing the way we do marketing. Here are some of the extracted highlights:

Elissa: “It’s amazing how much marketing has changed because of our access to data and technologies like AI and ML. In the old days, marketing leaders could barely get credit for contributing, and then we’d get asked all the time about what we were doing for lead generation. Today, there’s a real recognition that CMOs and the whole marketing department have responsibilities far beyond just demand generation. It’s about brand, it’s about culture, it’s about customer success, it’s about the company. Marketers are finally recognized as having the control and ability to make a huge impact on the business. That’s really exciting. It’s a great time to be a marketer.”

Denise: “Today, I’m most excited about how we can do precision targeting using data. Especially with machine learning, it’s so much easier to focus on the right targets at the right time. Before, you had to spread your marketing budget across prospects that were never even relevant to you.”

Elissa: “I think marketing is in far more control and there’s so much less waste. And, rather than us being AI and ML professionals, the trend is that we’re going to look for and rely more and more on our vendors to have AI and ML built into their tools because they are the smartest tools. So, if you’re using tools that aren’t using AI or ML to do better for you, then you probably want to look around.”

Denise: As a B2B organization, instead of making more gut-based decisions about new sales hires to help us grow, we’re using marketing engagement data to determine where we’re going to invest in salespeople.”

Christy: “And the type of in-market tests that we can run now using AI and ML help us run predictive modeling on our whole database—every deal we’ve ever closed—and do that analysis before we do any market tests. How powerful is that?”

Elissa: “Because we have access to so much data and so much technology, it’s no longer just about brand and leads. We’re part of the strategic decision-making function and participate almost better than anyone because of the data at our fingertips.”

Christy: “We do have a seat at the table, and I think marketing leaders now have the same level of pressure that sales leaders do. We’re responsible for meeting quotas and also total alignment for 100% of the pipeline it takes to drive revenue. So, yes, it’s a different world for us now. And I’m super excited about it!”

"We do have a seat at the table, and I think marketing leaders now have the same level of pressure that sales leaders do."
—Christy Marble

Watch for our next blog in this series Through the Data Lens: CMOs Get Real, on the topic of “How Data Science Has Changed the Game Forever.” We’ll share deeper dive insights from these CMO leaders about how identifying your level of data maturity as an organization, and taking action, can help keep you in a competitive growth mode.

Moreover, this same panel of CMOs will be touring to a city near you. Next stop: 10/9 Vancouver, BC. Make sure to register!

data-night-seattle-video-replay-thumbnailIf you enjoyed this blog post and are interested in hearing the full CMO panel discussion, you are in luck! View the video replay of the Data Night Seattle fireside chat to hear our amazing line up of CMOs share their experiences and key learnings in leveraging data and tech innovations to drive successful business growth.
Watch the video