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Ericsson CMO on the role of marketing in the business’ transformation

marketing and communications marketing and communications

Ericsson CMO, Helena Norrman, explains to Hot Topics how marketing and communications are driving Ericsson's transformation.

Transformation. Change. Disruption. We hear the words every day.

But the words get a different meaning when you live them every day in an industry and company that is in the midst of it. At Ericsson we are in the middle of a transforming industry, a transforming company and a transformation of the role of marketing and communications within the company.

When I joined the company 15 years ago, marketing was about product positioning and trade shows.

It was easy to distinguish between what was marketing and what was communications.

Communications was essentially about building perception through earned opportunities while marketing was about paying for product positioning.

It was simple to maintain two separate functions and it was straightforward with roles and responsibilities.

If you looked at the marketing and communications function, it was great when it came to understanding the outside world, understanding stakeholders and the big picture and the marketing organization was great when it came to understanding the customers and the portfolio.

About a year ago we came to the conclusion that it was not enough. We decided to combine the functions to make the communications team more business oriented and the marketing team more multi-stakeholder oriented.

The decision was part of the total transformation that the company is currently going through. We are shifting from hardware to software and professional services. We are going from only serving telecom operators to a broad spectrum of potential customers, and we are going from a limited set of competitors to a broad and changing competitive landscape.

All of these changes call for a new and more important role for marketing and communications within the company. From something that is nice to have to mission critical.

To really complicate things, digital has changed rules completely.

As a B2B company, we are used to customers relying on personal contacts and interaction through the buying process. That is no longer the case. Also in B2B, a large part of the customer journey is done without talking the any representative from any vendor. It is done online.

So the first priority is understanding the customer journey. Where can we reach our customers? What are the interested in? Who do they listen to?

We must make sure that we are there in the right contexts with insights and ideas that trigger thought processes and inspire potential customers to want to engage with us.

So digital is changing everything. At the same time nothing is changing. It is more important than ever for organizations to have a sense of purpose and a clear understanding of what the brand stands for. Trust and transparency are guiding principles in a complex world.

Ultimately, for us to be able to achieve our goals, we as marketers have to be able to show the business value of what we do internally.

We have to make marketing investments as natural as R&D investments for the success of the company. We need to bring new conversations into the executive leadership team, into the business lines and into the sales teams.

Our entire industry is changing, our company is changing and the role of marketing and communications is certainly changing. It is very exciting times.