I had the pleasure of participating in two CMO group discussions on marketing organizational structures in the past week. The Atlanta DMA focused on a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled "Rethinking Marketing For Tomorrow." The article suggests that value-based customer and brand management requires a reinvention of the marketing organizational structure. It’s the common debate around product and brand-centric organizations versus customer-centric.

In addition, I facilitated the CMO group at Forrester’s Marketing Forum today on "Organizing For Social Media." In February and March, I conducted 10 interviews with senior marketers including Best Buy, IBM, Louis Vuitton, and others about their current organizational design for social media. The CMO group discussed the challenges and best practices in organizing for social media.

The goods news…

  • Everyone has an opinion – organizational structure is a hot topic and deserves more attention.
  • There’s no wrong answer – whatever organizational design allows you to serve your customers and grow the business is right for you – the trick is finding what’s right when new trends appear.
  • There are many good examples – search the Web and you will find dozens of blog postings on the "best org design for customer-centricity and social media" – our cases show that CMOs must: 1) energize the enterprise (collaborate with IT, eBusiness, PR) because you can’t do everyone on your own, 2) lead an executive cross-functional steering committee to remove hurdles and get cultural buy-in, and 3) develop a "living lab" mentality – there will be another reorg shortly and the only thing constant is change – be prepared to adapt and reorganize as new technology and consumer behavior changes.

The bad news…

  • Everyone has an opinion – see above…consensus is difficult. Marketing is the right place to lead customer-centric and social media efforts (our data shows that 52% of social media groups reside within marketing). Don’t be afraid to lead.
  • Change doesn’t guarantee success – just because you reorganize doesn’t mean you will become customer-centric or create an effective social media presence. You need the right culture, incentives, controls and personnel in order to execute on both issues.

We are focusing more and more research on creating adaptive marketing organizations that can stay ahead of changing consumer and technology trends. I look forward to hearing your opinions on what is working and not working in the market place.

What do you think?