Three ways the GMO’s role has evolved to drive innovation and growth

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The business world has seen changes on an unprecedented scale and speed. The pandemic created decentralized and digital-first business engagement models that continue to permanently shape our future today. Research shows major shifts in marketing and IT over the past two years, including changes in strategies, priorities, challenges and opportunities. Ray Wang and I recently spoke with an incredibly successful chief marketing officer pioneer to learn more about the evolving role of CMOs and their focus to drive innovation and growth.

Kim Salem-Jackson is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Akamai† Salem-Jackson leads global marketing for Akamai. She is passionate about building and leading high-performing, purpose-driven teams driven by innovation and speed to market. Kim has a proven ability to work with senior management to devise, develop and implement business strategy and integrated initiatives that accelerate revenue growth.


Kim Salem-Jackson is Akamai .’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Salem-Jackson reminds us that over the past two years, we’ve all seen the world change rapidly. Organizations and people must adapt and advance their strategies and roles to thrive in this new climate. Salem-Jackson has spent her career in marketing, helping companies drive growth while increasing brand and exposure. She has seen the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) evolve significantly in recent years, with a new focus and greater responsibility than the traditional job description.

Here are Salem-Jackson’s observations and recommendations on the three ways the role of CMO has transformed to drive innovation and growth across the enterprise:

  1. CMOs have become Chief Connection Officers

We are now in a unique position to forge connections between all stakeholders – customers, employees and shareholders – to build engagement and deliver value. According to GartnerCMOs have a much greater responsibility to serve as a “connector” for all stakeholders, both internal and external.

More than ever, marketing plays an important role not only in driving awareness and demand for the company, but also in attracting and retaining our talent. One of the success criteria and top priorities of my marketing team is strengthening and involving our employees. It gives them a sense of pride and a sense of belonging to the organization. I think this is just as important as generating revenue for the business. Because if employees are proud of the company they work for, they will be more engaged, deliver better results and surprise customers in every way. Creating this connection point is key.

Creating powerful connections extends to all stakeholders, both inside and outside the organization — from customers, partners and shareholders to colleagues in Sales, IT, HR and Finance. Through these vital relationships, CMOs can be the connective tissue to power a powerful force to deliver the best experiences and value for the customer, employee and all stakeholders.

2. CMOs and marketing must adapt and predict

The way we live, learn, work and play has changed forever. Marketing has been preparing for a digital-first world over the past decade. Now more than ever, our customers expect us to meet them where they are, anticipate (or predict) their needs and deliver a superior experience wherever they are. We are ushering in the digital transformation, creating entirely new digital touchpoints in the way we engage and serve our global audience.

By understanding a customer’s needs and leveraging insights from data, we can predict audience behavior, purchase history, website analytics, and other areas to predict the results of marketing tactics.

3. CMOs and marketing are ambassadors of corporate purpose

Over the past two years, there has been a shift in the way people reflect personally and professionally. People have developed a new sense of awareness and value for themselves and the world around them. This drives employees to demand more personal value and purpose.

I observe this first hand and see that employees want to work in an environment where they have shared values ​​and can contribute more to society. This social capital enables employees to work together to achieve a common goal. We find that our purpose-driven journey has given our teams a new voice for our ‘why’ and serves as the North Star for our organization, contributing to our success by building a sense of shared values ​​and mutual respect. And being clear about the purpose of your business will help focus and drive everything you do, attracting the talent that is connected and drawn to that purpose.

Gone are the days when the marketing organization was the ‘order taker’ of the business community. Today, CMOs must lead the organization in connecting the enterprise, adapting and forecasting market opportunities, and advancing the goal of driving the overall business strategy. I am seen not only as the head of marketing, but also as a critical business partner to the CEO and the entire executive team, impacting the company and the audiences we serve. With these three shifts, a CMO is better able to drive innovation and growth across the enterprise.

Ray WangCEO of Research on constellationsand I spoke to Salem-Jackson recently and Kate Prouty, senior vice president and chief information officer at Akamai, on disrupting not only to meet customer and employee needs, but also to grow through innovation, adaptability and purpose. Prouty and Salem-Jackson aligned IT and marketing to purposefully create value at the speed needed. We also discussed the importance of sharing insights to improve decision-making speed, modernizing a technology stack that delivers value to all stakeholders, and turning towards a digital-first strategy focused on improving the stakeholder experiences – employees, customers , business partners and communities. After listening to Salem-Jackson and Prouty, I now believe that the new power couple in business is the CMO and CIO. Driving innovation and growth requires both science and art, purposefully aligned and driven to please all stakeholders. Success on this journey of continuous digital transformation aimed at producing a positive impact for everyone requires both strong IT and marketing to work as one team.

This article was co-written by Kim Salem-JacksonExecutive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Akamai

Kim leads global marketing for Akamai. She is passionate about building and leading high-performing, purpose-driven teams driven by innovation and speed to market. Kim has a proven ability to work with senior management to devise, develop and implement business strategy and integrated initiatives that accelerate revenue growth.

Kim serves on the board of directors of the Akamai Foundation, which is committed to supporting programs to attract greater diversity in the technology industry, providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid worldwide, communities and promoting environmental sustainability through investment in alternative energy.

She is a 2022 Business Transformation 150 recipient of Constellation Research, 2021 CMO Award winner, Founding Member of Chief, Member of the Forbes Council, and Member of the Board of Directors of Fast Company.

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