Why CEOs Must Act as Chief Orchestration Officers

Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Many CMOs are talking about breaking down walls within the marketing department and replacing a siloed campaign mindset with a customer mindset-a practice called marketing orchestration.

There is a major disconnect in the way companies interact with customers today. Most companies claim that they want to cultivate long-term relationships with customers by enhancing the customer experience across all interactions with the brand, from conversations with the call center to in-store experiences and marketing messages received online or via mobile devices. Yet, many organizations have figurative walls between departments that prevent the sharing of data and insights that would enable a more cohesive customer experience.

Take for example, the tone-deaf airline that, after a miserable flight experience due to delays and cancellations, continues to send you mass marketing messages to get you to purchase your next flight, rather than realizing that you're an at-risk customer whose loyalty needs to be earned back. Or, the uninformed retailer who bombards you with display ads for a product you actually already purchased.

These customer experiences have something in common: They are the result of an un-orchestrated organization. Orchestration occurs when figurative walls-or internal silos-between the marketing, customer service, sales, and other departments are broken down, enabling the company to make better decisions and optimize a customer's entire journey with a brand, not just an individual interaction. In fact, this breakdown of internal silos figures as one of the top three strategic CEO priorities in The Conference Board's CEO Challenge 2013 survey.

This silo-breaking drive stems from a widespread desire to get closer to customers-an effort commonly championed by CMOs. Many CMOs are talking about breaking down walls within the marketing department and replacing a siloed campaign mindset with a customer mindset-a practice we call marketing orchestration.

But a recent study of roughly 200 U.S.- and U.K.-based senior marketing professionals, conducted by Forrester Consulting (and commissioned by my company, Responsys), suggests many CMOs are not putting their money where their mindsets are.

Although respondents identify the benefits of marketing orchestration-"cultivating long-term relationships with customers" and "enhancing customer experience across channels or touchpoints"-as their top two strategic objectives, they continue to spend heavily on siloed, un-orchestrated marketing programs: Nearly 60 percent of marketing functions plan to boost funding for untargeted email marketing and display advertisements in 2014.

Not that there's anything wrong with email, display, or any other individual marketing channel. They remain necessary and generate value, but these programs are not nearly as effective when conducted in an isolated manner that restricts the sharing of customer insights.

Those internal operational walls between and within departments, once made sense from an efficiency standpoint when customers communicated with companies at a much slower pace through one or two channels, like telephones and snail mail. Silos no longer cut it in an era when customers and companies routinely communicate instantaneously via multiple channels, including online sites, social media platforms, email, texting and more.

When silos aren't contained to departments, but are company wide, the CEO is uniquely positioned to champion this organizational change. Wharton Professor Jerry Wind described orchestration as "the new managerial model in the digital age." And a great initial objective for CEOs who are fed up with silos is marketing orchestration, in which customers are placed at the center of the company's activities. Orchestration tears down internal walls while leaving the organization, and its customer-centric mission, intact.