CMO Interview: Amber Blaha, CMO, Ness Digital Engineering

Many marketers are being asked to do more with less – What are your tips for cost-effective marketing? What has worked for you?
Credibility and trust-building are very important in services marketing, and one of the most effective ways to facilitate new business connections with companies is through referrals. For example, the majority of our engineers are highly-experienced colleagues who have developed strong business networks over time, and people they’ve worked with in the past will pass along new opportunities to our team because there is already an established trust. Those referrals are valuable, and we make sure employee referrals are noted and connected to the right people within the organization.

Marketers can also do more with less by producing informative content and using it in multiple ways to maintain an ongoing dialog with the people with whom they want to connect. For example, we work closely with our Chief Technology Office and other subject matter experts to produce articles and blog posts on topics of interest to our clients, though we don’t produce as many white papers anymore – people seem to have less time to read them. In general, we’re trending toward shorter form content, including video. The key is producing content that is valuable for the intended audience – news they can use.

Marketers must also keep a very close eye on what is working and what is not working. Cost is a combination of money and time. People often underestimate the cost of time, and marketing leaders are frequently rebalancing the finite bandwidth of their teams to ensure their talents are utilized in the most effective ways. In the digital economy, priorities and the relative value of marketing initiatives can change quickly: what works now may not work six months from now. My tendency is to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to marketing programs to increase the likelihood of generating meaningful results.

What do you think makes Ness unique?
Ness knows from its particularly strong software product and platform engineering heritage that development of digital platforms, designed to effectively engage stakeholders, differentiate a company’s brand, or drive revenue growth, requires some combination of customer experience design, data analytics, and platform engineering. So, when we first engage with a client, we involve our experts across these disciplines, because we know the resulting digital solution will eventually need elements of each – even if we initially start with development of just one or two. For our customers, this integrated approach minimizes handoffs between colleagues, which reduces development time and the risk that important considerations will fall through the cracks. The design and development process is seamless, which helps ensure we build the right platforms for our clients, the right way, faster.

Do you think a bot would be taking over marketing jobs soon?
No. Bots will increasingly play a useful role in supporting various transactions, but bots will augment personal interactions, not completely replace them.

What is the role of the CMO in driving digital transformation?
The role of a CMO remains focused on helping companies drive business. But, because a great deal of customer engagement now occurs via digital channels, CMOs need to work far more closely with technology leaders in their organizations, such as with the Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Information Officer. These colleagues must collaborate to generate greater transparency into the customer journey – helping their company identify changing market and customer needs earlier and more rapidly develop new products and services using data and a flexible technology infrastructure – to address new opportunities with customers before their competitors do.

What are the few traits that future marketers must exhibit?
Marketers must have empathy – to be able to view scenarios from the customer’s perspective and plan programs that anticipate and support customer needs. Modern marketers also need to be more technologically aware. The marketing automation toolkit is expanding rapidly, so it’s helpful to read the latest marketing research and even take cold calls from tech vendors to keep up-to-speed on emerging approaches. Marketers must also exhibit agility. The digital realm moves quickly, which means virtually every business function, including Marketing, HR, IT, etc. must also move at a rapid, agile pace. Taking months to create a marketing plan in some scenarios may no longer be feasible given market timing, nor is it good to assume that same plan will still be as effective months from now. The marketer’s role continues to get more interesting.

Profile: Amber Blaha is focused on helping Ness Digital Engineering grow its business in digital transformation and software engineering services by promoting the expertise of the Ness team and the valuable outcomes they deliver for clients. Amber joined Ness in 2015, cultivating a portfolio of internal and external marketing programs to regularly engage and provide value to stakeholders. For more than 15 years, Amber has held various product marketing, marketing leadership, and consulting roles in technology services companies and management consulting firms, including Velocity Technology Solutions, IVANS, NaviSite, StorageNetworks, KPMG, and Ernst & Young.

About the author  ⁄ Jessie Paul

Jessie Paul

Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, a firm she founded in early 2010 to raise the bar for marketing in India. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro’s IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, Jessie has been recognized for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map. With over 18 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Jessie is considered an expert in brand globalization and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.

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