At last, marketers realise they can be the perfect chief executive

Chief executives, watch out. Marketers are coming for your jobs. That’s the news from Forrester’s report The Evolved CMO in 2014, out this week.

Ruth Mortimer

The report is another in a long line that adds weight to the argument that marketers are the next business leaders. Fifty nine per cent say that they aim to expand their leadership and influence in general business strategy. More specifically, 40 per cent of B2B marketers and 41 per cent of B2C marketers aim to become a CEO in their next role.

Why should we care? Because just two years ago, when this research was last conducted, the majority of CMOs were planning to become either consultants or move sideways to a bigger brand and were less likely to consider a move up.

Now, 91 per cent believe their experience with strategy is preparing them to lead, while 72 per cent cite general management experience as a reason to take on a CEO role.

Marketers’ influence in the technology world is another reason that they may be natural candidates for the top table. Understanding the role of technology and how it can affect everything from marketing messages to operational product delivery is vital for CEOs.

The relationship with the chief technology officer is paramount for the CMO, according to the Forrester report, with more than half of respondents seeing this as important, up from just a third two years ago. It is therefore no surprise that Mobile World Congress, taking place this week, has risen in importance for global executives. A few years ago, it was a niche trade show for techies; now it is mainstream for brands. (See our MWC coverage.)

Our cover star this week, MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar, is certainly putting mobile at the heart of his strategy. MasterCard signed a deal last week with Weve to offer mobile contactless payments in the UK.  While mobile payments are in their infancy, they look set to expand in future.

Rajamannar says: “The key thing is to understand what is intuitive to consumers, because it’s very difficult to create habits that are against intuition.”

Of course, he is right. Consumers rely more on their mobile phones, not simply as communication devices but hubs of enablement. They enable users to contact people, get directions, play games, watch films, share content and increasingly pay for things.

Among those ambitious marketers aiming to be CEOs, it will be those who fluently understand technology who are perfectly poised to be these future leaders.

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