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The 4 Roles

I have been building custom web applications, websites, and e-commerce sites for the last 22 years. In that time, over the course of many projects, both large and small, it has been interesting to see the digital space evolve into what it is today. In this post, the first, of a 4 part series, I will discuss the roles required to ensure success with your next digital projects. 

Those roles include the following:

  1. The Chief Marketing Officer or CMO Role;
  2. The Chief Information Officer or CIO role;
  3. The Chief Technology Officer or CTO role;
  4. And finally, the Chief Digital Officer or CDO role.

Many clients struggle with getting the right resources involved at the right levels. That creates a roadblock in getting the project done right. Digital continues to be a challenge for many organizations due to the fast pace of change in the technology sector.

All of the roles can be contained in one or two talented individuals, like any “role” depending on the size and complexity of the project. Most likely, at least three or four distinct roles should be represented as part of the project core team to increase project success.  One additional caveat is that titles will vary from organization to organization based on the size and type of organization. For instance, a small organization might have a role defined at a manager level where a very large organization might involve a “C” level executive at the head of the project.

Role #1 – The CMO role – The Keeper of Branding, Positioning, and Messaging

Whatever the title or level, this role is present to ensure the business’ marketing strategy, positioning, branding, and messaging are on-point. This person generally has a strong background (both educationally and experience-wise) in marketing. 

This person often has led and excelled at not only the strategy for the organization but also in executing a variety of successful campaigns. In smaller organizations, this can be a member of the leadership team and in some cases the CEO.  In larger organizations, this person understands the business well and is closely aligned with the strategic mission. They will likely have a team under them, but their most important strength is their ability to help align the strategy of the project with the brand story.

Caution for CMO Role

This role cannot be oblivious to technology when it comes to digital projects. All too often, I have witnessed a strong strategic marketing person and digital Luddite put in the role of the primary decision-maker for the project. A strong background in print, media, and advertising, as well as strategic marketing and their influence, is strong but if missing digital-savvy, this type of project lead can cause digital projects to derail.

Today many decisions related to a digital project are rooted in technology. The outcome of the project needs to blend both form and function. If focused on archaic marketing priorities, this person can make poor technology decisions. In other words, they may be focused on what looks good, but lack the ability to see the technical limitations or the digital potential of the solutions presented.

Summary of CMO Role

In summary, the CMO role is critical to the success of any digital project.  However, when a digitally unaware person is the decision-maker, the wrong partner and/or technology platform can be chosen. We frequently see CMO’s choose traditional brand-centric agencies who may be great with branding, but severely lacking in technical strength to execute complex frictionless user experiences.

To ensure success, the CMO needs to be balanced with other disciplines in the organization.  Join me next for Part 2 of this 4 part series where I talk about the CIO role.