CxO roundtable recap

Transform by Simon held a CxO roundtable yesterday led by Nick Drake, VP of Global Marketing at Google, Doina Harris, CPO at Simon, and Rich Demato, Head of Transformation at Simon. Six marketing and experience leaders got together to discuss how they’re approaching digital transformation during a time that forces change.

This was a group of industry leaders spanning multiple industries: finance, retail, and food/hospitality. While everyone on the call had naturally been focused on transformation initiatives prior to Covid-19, the imperative shifted as did the speed. The unanimous approach has been to:

  • Take careful note of the macro trends from one’s own and adjacent industries
  • Radically focus strategy
  • Prioritize initiatives and resources without delay

This data-savvy group looked to macro, industry-specific trends to help lead the way to informed transformation. We wanted to share a few key trends that were top-of-mind for the group.

Trend Callouts

Financial Services

Market volatility has many consumers asking for a better understanding of their portfolios and a more active role in managing them. The emotional connection between consumers and their portfolios needs to be digitally respected from a brand, messaging, and personalization perspective. There has also been a rise in social-impact investing


Because of the immense growth of people looking to shop digitally, there is tremendous opportunity on the other side of this pandemic. To realize it, the customer experience needs to be relentlessly innovated upon in a highly data-driven, “aim-to-win” fashion. Retaining customers gained during this time will count on experience.

Food & Beverage

The immediate shift to delivery and need to reimagine the dine-in experience has forced many brands to turn on their heels toward a contactless, but still comforting, experience. Digital transformation initiatives, which may have been treated as a 6-month long science experiment in the past, now need to be done overnight and have an immediate, measurable impact on engagement.

We heard a lot about the specific initiatives at several of the companies on our call, and while we won’t detail them here, the types of transformation can be summarized into 3 groups:

Brand Transformation

Strategic Transformation

Operational Transformation

See our “Crisis as Catalyst” webinar recap to learn more about how to apply them to your business.

One interesting theme we heard during the roundtable was that as priorities shift to reflect the things that need to accelerate , there was a healthy collapse of functions and groups to improve alignment and speed. The best illustration of this is at Google, where formerly siloed messaging services are now under one lead and one group.

Working from Home

To actually achieve transformation in any of these areas, you need to radically focus your people and technology. Working from home is one of the main areas of digital transformation happening and while not owned by marketers or customer experience officers, it was a huge topic of discussion. The main areas of concern were data security, effectiveness, and understanding the balance between productivity and efficacy of teams.

WFH Callouts

  • A functional “home office” is a corporate investment
  • Data security needs to cover this new work paradigm immediately because of the new vulnerabilities it creates
  • Many brands have adopted “WFH for the rest of 2020” policies, some going even further and allowing it to be a permanent state so long as productivity remains constant
  • Employee utilization and KPIs need to be understood, baselined, and checked-in on to inform process improvements
  • Some early internal surveys are showing happier employees due to better work-life balance and reduced commute

Curious about our Transform events and community? Transform is a private, invite-only community where C-level executives come together to network, learn, and collaborate with their peers. Next up, we have a roundtable discussion with TJ Papp (Nike, Kenneth Cole, Victoria’s Secret) on Infrastructure 2.0: Stack Modernization as a Driver of Growth on 5/27 at 1 pm ET.

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