Why You Should Be Your Company’s Next CEO

Modern Marketing


First came the inventors and founders, fueled by steam and created with cast iron, changing society from agrarian to industrial. Then came electricity, steel, and oil and the rise of the company, followed by the move from analog to digital. Now we’re at the start of the fourth industrial revolution; a revolution that’s being powered by data.  And who’s in control of data? The marketers. We are sitting on the intelligence of a size and nature unparalleled in the commercial world. This is what is powering the revolution, and we’re in charge of it.

Who Runs the World?

Some might suggest that marketing has been secretly running the world for years but, conspiracy theories aside now is the time for marketers to step up and start running the companies we know so well. The fourth industrial revolution is our time. Because, as Klaus Schwab (who coined the term fourth industrial revolution) says, customers are “increasingly at the epicenter of the economy, which is all about how customers are being served.”

Schwab also founded the World Economic Forum, which has created The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop policies that deal with, among other things, the impact of AI and machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things. In other words, just another day in the office for the modern marketer. Add to this the fact that our job is to know our customers, and that in this revolution the economy is no longer only about selling things, and it’s increasingly clear that we’re leading from the front. This changes everything.

Leading From Marketing

At one point, you had to be from one of the practical, quantifiable arms of a business to get to manage it. Salespeople rose to the top because their contribution to the business can be clearly measured. Logistics people became CEOs because you can see the benefits of this type of thinking to the future of the business. Financial types got there for, well, obvious reasons. But marketers? Marketers, less so. It used to be tricky to prove marketing’s worth and the generalized perception of marketing that manifests itself in statements such as, “what is marketing, anyway,” “isn’t it a bit like advertising but not on TV,” and “there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so how hard can it be” confirms a lack of understanding. Not anymore.

Marketing as a Measurement Center

We can measure the impact of marketing and, like the economy, marketing isn’t only about getting people to buy things. More than ever, it’s about understanding the customer and the immense complexity of the world they, and we, inhabit and engaging with them to create lasting relationships.

In his new book, Engage to Win, our own fearless leader, Steve Lucas, says the CMO needs a new title: the Chief Engagement Officer. Steve believes both the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and the CMO must carry the title of Chief Engagement Officer as they need to work towards a common set of engagement goals and eat, sleep and breathe engagement with the customer.

CMO for CEO 2019

All of the above is why the CMO is now the natural choice to become the CEO, and the opportunities for the truly fearless marketer are greater than ever. Marketing has become the most rounded of all the commercial professions, the one that works closest to the boundaries of technology and the one that knows the most about the customer. In fact, I’d argue that marketers probably know more about the companies they work for, and their customers, than any other employee. And that doesn’t even touch upon our understanding of the technology that underpins the revolution, technology that is key to the new economy.

To succeed means being bold and, yes, being fearless. The pace of today’s Engagement Economy is dizzying, rapid and elemental, faster than the rise of the steam locomotive or the home computer. Marketers cannot afford to wait for the opportunities to come to them; we must have the confidence to push forward and up. But with our understanding of and access to data, and the breadth of our experience, we are uniquely positioned to guide our organizations—and to give our customers exactly what they want. Be fearless in your ascent. Nothing is stopping you.

Join Us

We’d love to meet you and share our stories of marketers fearlessly pushing upward by capitalizing on the advantages afforded by the engagement economy. Join us at this year’s DMEXCO, one of the most influential gatherings of leading thinkers in the digital economy, and explore how technology, business, and social trends enable marketers to drive strategy and take the lead. We hope to see you there.