CMOment: Peer-to-peer enterprise

Q&A with Lauren Flaherty, Executive VP and CMO, CA Technologies

What’s the biggest challenge to marketers: Fragmented media, empowered consumers, expanding technology, or others?

It’s what I would call constant disruption—whether it’s in business models, technology innovation, shifts in consumer mindsets, shifts in demographics or reorientation of the buying process.

You have to learn how to live with it and how to live with it well. You can come off as sounding fearful of it. We’re starting to deeply appreciate that those who will master it as a state of being are those who will be successful, and those who don’t posses the agility to deal with it are going to be in a more problematic state.

LaurenFlahertyWhat’s the biggest marketing challenge to your company: Competition, changing perceptions, evolving technology?

The entire CA portfolio has been reshaped for what our customers are going through in their own transformation and what they want.

We’re starting to appreciate it’s far bigger than the ability to reach them and a message that resonates with them. It’s more accurately about what’s their level of engagement.

They’re social. They’re connected. They’re perhaps the most informed and educated consumers we’ve ever had to service.

As recently as five years ago there was still an element that I could broadcast to you. I would dispense my story to you. It was one-to-many.

That model has been turned completely on its side. Now what we’re seeing is the most powerful networks of influence are the peer-to-peer networks.

In our category, our buyers are well down their journey—well past two-thirds of the way down their journey—before they want to engage with a sales person face to face. What they’re doing prior to having that moment is educating themselves. They’re going to your website, they’re reaching out to their peers.

It’s a massive shift. For those of us who are part of this changing journey, it definitely requires you to reshape and deeply understand the basics, but the basics through a very different lens.

In this peer-to-peer environment, what’s the place thought leadership efforts such as your participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos?

This is what I mean: some of the principles are the same but the execution is different. I don’t think the notion of being where your customers are is a particularly new thought. But what it means now is very different because of the technology and what the technology has enabled in terms of where these customers can be and with whom they are comparing notes.

Why would you go to the World Economic Forum? You’ve got major leaders of industry, heads of state. This is a really interesting dynamic we’re starting to see more: they are influencing the purchasing choice. So having the company, the brand, present in front of them is absolutely critical, so they have an association with CA and it’s known to them.

Even though you are an enterprise marketer, do you still have to engage in social media and mobile channels side by side with those thought leadership efforts?

There used to be a handful of tools that you could use to get your message to your intended target. And boy, there was a lot of hit or miss in that equation, a lot of guessing. Now, with the resources we have at our disposal, whatever the mix is, you’re able to approach the opportunity of reaching a buyer in a much richer way.

We’ve always talked about this intersection between the art and science of it and I think we’re living in the moment where it is happening. We talked about that for an awfully long time when in reality, the science had not matured to where it needed to be. Now we’re able to better understand what is happening with these experiences, what are the moments of truth for our customers.

The ability to break through, have a narrative, have a voice, create a connection—all the things that folks like me would call the art side of the house—becomes as important as ever, because you have to be authentic and you have to make a personal connection to establish your relevance. That is the craft of what we do in marketing. The science is our ability to understand exactly when to roll it, exactly whom to target, what the right timing is. It’s a fun space to be in right now.

But you did a more traditional global campaign in 2014.

There was a misalignment between what people thought what they know about CA, which was centered around mainframe and infrastructure management, and where the company really had been investing over the last decade and was heading. That was much more about application development, security and really understanding this thing we called The App Economy.

We came up with the line “Business, rewritten by software.” It was very straightforward: We create software for business. We see that there is this major shift where all businesses of all sizes, all over the globe are powering transformation of their business model through software.

As we look into this year, we’re really showcasing more of that innovation in very visible media. We’ll be back on television for the first time in many years. It’s very targeted, but one of the things we wanted was to use a medium that, you can argue its pros and cons, but you can’t argue its ability to reach.

We’re continuing to run the global campaign as it was conceived, but we’re adding new elements to it around broadcast, around mobile. We’re even looking at things like virtual reality, to take advantage of all these tools out there that enable you to touch a target in a different way and in a way that keeps our message fresh and relevant and, most importantly, create a connection. Because at the end of the day, people select products, but they also select people from those companies.

You mentioned people. How do you see the landscape for talent?

It’s a hunt. There is kind of a dream mix, and any dream mix is a challenge. You look at the team in totality, because it’s impossible to ask one person to be all the dimensions that you need.

I’ve come to really appreciate is that complete spectrum of lenses that I can call on from a regional point of view, from a targeting point of view. It’s required now. There’s just no way you can effective in global marketing without having that perspective in the talent that you bring in the team.

Marketers always seek out companies that they see doing interesting work. One of the things I’ve been thrilled about is the number of folks who have responded to us because they’ve seen what we’re doing.

People want to be on marketing teams that are using the latest technology. People want to be on marketing teams that want to produce a creative product. People want to be on marketing teams where the company values marketing, and CA values marketing.