The CMO and CISO: Assessing the evolving intersection

James is part of Siegel+Gale’s executive team in EMEA. He helps the firm constantly elevate its work to greater heights. With over 20 years of experience in brand consultancy, James has worked in most verticals and transfers that experience from sector to sector, James believes that as expectations of brands continue to change, the brands that will continue to prosper are those that stand for one powerful, simple truth that can be felt within every experience they deliver.

The world has changed – from Betamax to Netflix, HMV to Spotify, and everything to mobile – and the relentless pace of transformation has put us in a constant state of flux. In a bid to keep up, businesses have increased their focus on digital transformation, propelling the chief information security officer (CISO) from the IT periphery to the very heart of decision-making. 

In parallel, technological evolution has driven a change in customer behaviour. If the purchasing of products and services has steadily been transferred to the digital realm in recent years, the speed of this transition has increased dramatically owing to the behavioural changes forced upon us by our necessary response to Covd-19. 

The importance of the CISO has increased as the transition to digital has picked up pace

Because the remit of the CISO has been to weigh information security considerations, the perceived effect is to slow the pace of digital transition within a business. To the extent that this perception is a reality, it has in any case been challenged of late. As B2C brands sprint to serve the majority of their customers online and B2B businesses to shift operations to digital at unprecedented speed, and allow employees to work remotely, it can seem riskier not to embrace innovation, even when that embrace itself brings risk. 

Of course, as businesses digitize the potential cyberthreat facing organisations increases also, with 99 global data breaches in August of 2020 alone. That said, the 36.6 million data records confirmed leaked represented the lowest number since May 2018. So clearly, the work of the CISO to stay ahead of the threat curve is paying off. 

The CMO role is also evolving

Like the CISO role, the CMO role is also seeing great change. Typically, CMOs thrive in high-paced changing environments; learning through listening, experimentation and failure. However, with a growth in digital transactions, an increase in risk means more safeguarding is now widely seen as necessary to counter a proliferation in cyberthreats. 

CMOs are adding security to their many hats

It’s imperative for the CMO to have a deep understanding of the customer and their pain points. Covid-19 has exacerbated some of these pain points as many of us feel frustrated by more complex experiences, especially at a stressful time. 

In this context, rolling out a digital solution that simplifies the complex and provides a digitally enhanced experience for customers can make a real difference, but it is also vital to ensure that solution is safe. Apologising after a data breach, for example, is necessary, but a case of too little too late. Working hand-in-hand with the CISO is vital to ensure the technology is not just a viable marketing solution, but a secure one. 

CISOs are now relationship builders

More than ever, the CISO role needs to be a collaborative one, building relationships to gain a better understanding of the potential pain points created by technology solutions. 

For example, half of CISOs recognise that security measures negatively impact productivity when remote-first policies are scaled

The question a CISO increasingly needs to answer is what other unintended consequences might a given technology solution have, and how to mitigate or otherwise get ahead of these. 

The best way to do this is to stay close to the end-user, be they internal or external customers. And this is something the CMO can help the CISO to achieve, by providing a connection to the voice of the customers to whom they market. 

Employee experience 

Most of us now use digital platforms on a day-to-day basis to work together. Each layer of security involved in that exists for a good reason, yet adds complexity to the employee experience. Effective communication demonstrates to your employees the need for security measures, ensuring they are not viewed as a pointless barrier to productivity. Striking the right balance allows your business to remain protected while offering a simplified experience to employees – often the first touchpoint for your customers. After all, a positive employee experience is the first step to a best-in-class customer experience. 

Customer experience

Just like employees, customers benefit from knowing the experience a brand provides to them is safe and secure. Demonstrating that your business is secure and transactions low risk will sustain trust, as does transparency and a commitment to solving the issue if something does go wrong. It’s vital though that in ensuring the security of an experience, unnecessary complexity and barriers are not created. 

A shared agenda between the CISO and the CMO 

Where once the CISO and CMO roles had limited interconnection, an employee and customer experience that strikes the right balance between safety and simplicity requires the two officers to work together as ever before. 

Purpose and values provide a common framework for this collaboration, guiding decision making at speed through a shared and enduring belief system.

Read more: The business case for a strong CMO-CIO partnership: A guide

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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