PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), like other management consultancies in its competitive set, wants to grow its services to meet the needs of the modern chief marketing officer (CMO).
“The role of the CMO is changing so much,” said Chris Vollmer, global advisory leader for entertainment and media at PwC. “It’s not just messaging anymore, but architecting the customer experience. That involves a lot more than just great communications.”
PwC, which already works with Fortune 500 companies on IT, business strategy and consulting across verticals, began ramping up digital and design expertise in 2013. It’s since acquired upward of seven agencies to build the Experience Center, a roughly 13,000-employee marketing specialty practice under the PwC Digital Services umbrella.
The Experience Center leverages expertise across digital, design and customer journey pathing to help CMOs meet their business objectives. Design talent is often brought into a project by one of PwC’s vertical groups.
“We want a Venn diagram with industry experts focused on strategy and business transformation and folks that are really good at designing, building and scaling digital products,” Vollmer said. “The Experience Center has the skills and expertise to make the strategies come to life for the client.”
For a large media client, for example, PwC pulled in Experience Center talent to help the organization’s news group build and implement collaborative technology to gather, report and distribute news.
“They needed more collaboration amongst their reporters, producers and editors,” Vollmer said. “We brought in experts in things like UX design, solution architecture and software development and created a virtual collaboration platform where they could work on stories in real time. That’s developed from a prototype and scaled out to 3,000 users.”
The word agency is “too loaded” for what the Experience Center is, Vollmer said. There are areas where agencies play that PwC wants to avoid, such as media planning and buying. The firm will, however, help clients take their media-buying activities in-house and figure out how to save costs on marketing.
“We’re helping companies think through their advertising technology capabilities,” Vollmer said. “What’s the combination of insourced versus outsourced solutions? How that can translate into better value in terms of inventory management and pricing?”
Despite its desire not to be an agency, PwC is making inroads with agency clients.
“We’re investing so much in digital services because we want a bigger share of the activity that’s coming off the CMO,” Vollmer said. “We see that growing.”
There’s huge opportunity, for instance, to help legacy CMOs plug gaps in the customer experience as they shift their businesses online. Media companies – a focus of Vollmer’s – need help redesigning their advertising experiences to encourage loyalty over casual users.
“You have a glut of media supply that shows no signs of tapering off and a war for consumer attention as a result,” Vollmer said. “It’s always going to cost a lot to acquire casual users. It’s all about how you create traction with viewers to drive them into fans.”
Vollmer can’t quantify the CMO opportunity for PwC going forward, but said it is “very significant.”
“The CMO is most likely now the C-suite leader responsible for disruptive revenue growth,” he said. “If you want to be relevant in the C-suite, you better be adept at engaging with the CMO and be meaningful against that agenda.”