In this episode of CMO Perspectives, Sandy Ono, the EVP & Chief Marketing Officer at OpenText, engages in a conversation with Foundry’s Global CRO, Matt Yorke. Spearheading the OpenText marketing department, Sandy Ono has crafted a comprehensive growth strategy plan for the company’s entire portfolio while also making marketing simple, compelling, and fun for her team.
In this episode, Matt Yorke and Sandy Ono explore the intricacies of maintaining brand authenticity across numerous product-level campaigns and initiatives, crafting a compelling sense of urgency within marketing strategies, and empowering teams to push the boundaries of innovation by harnessing the transformative potential of Gen AI.
An agile marketing machine
In the fast-paced world of technology, keeping pace with the market is imperative, and in the realm of marketing, the need for agility is even more pronounced. Within this landscape, Ono emphasizes the importance of aligning marketing strategies both internally and externally. This approach has garnered significant investment from the organization in her department, with a clear understanding of how marketing can serve as a catalyst for elevating OpenText’s brand.
Another component of her success lies in her multi-faceted leadership approach, demonstrated by her ability to lead from the front, middle, and back. As the CMO, she rallies her team behind a unified vision, harnessing the true potential of marketing by prioritizing authentic internal alignment before external marketing. Leading from the back, she identifies and highlights talented individuals, fostering a culture of innovation and agility. With her team positioned between product and sales, Ono knows the pivotal role of marketing as an influencer of the go-to-market strategy, providing a unique perspective as a department.
Ono stresses the ongoing challenge of capturing customer attention in today’s competitive marketing landscape. With a laugh, Ono says, “You look at a regular report, and the total addressable market (TAM) is good, it’s great, it’s billions of dollars! It’s not that the need and purchasing aren’t there; it’s about how you can actually win mindshare in the market.”
She underscores the importance of ‘demand capture’ over demand generation, recognizing that customers enter the market at their own discretion. In an era of constant connectivity and an ‘always-on’ culture, effective marketing requires alignment with the customer journey to ensure engagement at the moment when they actively seek solutions. Maintaining a persistent top-of-mind presence plays a pivotal role, while creating a compelling sense of urgency fosters active customer engagement.
Brand to demand
Ono emphasizes the significance of maintaining consistency in the brand’s look, feel, and expression to foster brand development, ensuring alignment with demand and preventing any disconnect between a company with its campaigns and products. Ono thinks of brand and demand efforts as intrinsically linked and explains, “the hardest thing is to talk about brand with quantifiable measure with all my peers, and to take it away from ‘floofy marketing’ to something grounded in the positioning of our company with attributes that are authentically us.” The implementation of this strategic framework has facilitated growth within Ono’s team and allowed them to establish a distinctive identity of each product and category under the OpenText umbrella. Maximizing the impact of resources, Ono advocates for discussions centered on brand objectives with quantifiable measurements, encouraging alignment across all departments within the organization.
Using Gen AI to challenge the mundane
Like many of us in marketing and tech, Ono is excited and optimistic about the transformative impact Gen AI will have on the way we accomplish tasks. Ono believes that “AI is going to fundamentally change the way we work, and for the better. For marketing, it can really help us reimagine work because we can start to use tools that change our workflow.” Collaborating closely with various teams within her department, including creative, digital, field marketing, and product marketing, Ono encourages experimentation with Gen AI, providing her team with the freedom to explore its possibilities.
Notably, OpenText is actively engaged in an AI-driven initiative and campaign launch, with Gen AI serving as the first resource for all creative outputs, including visuals and imagery. The ongoing experimentation reflects a continuous refinement, aimed at learning more about Gen AI tools and systematically testing their creative capabilities. Ono says, “I’ve tasked my team with, ‘Everything in this campaign, we have to try being AI generated as a starting point.’ Unless we’re actually using [AI], how can we point to it as our own proof point? We have to figure out how to best work with these tools and where it’s going to allow us to drive both automation and better creativity, because our minds need to be freed up from the mundane.”
Founded as a project out of the University of Waterloo in Canada, OpenText has grown into the global market leader for Information Management. They empower their customers to organize, integrate and protect data and content as it flows through business processes inside and outside their organization.
About Sandy Ono
Sandy Ono has excelled in driving marketing strategy and operations in the high-tech industry for over 20 years. With expertise in customer analytics, digital marketing, organizational transformations, eCommerce, branding, and launching new business divisions, Ono has successfully led significant transformations for Fortune 500 companies and top brands. Ono’s focus includes centralizing marketing functions, optimizing spending efficiency, restructuring operations, and supporting mergers and acquisitions, all while translating strategic visions into actionable plans with cross-functional team execution.
About the CMO Perspective video series
The CMO Perspective series spotlights industry-leading executives who are making a difference within the tech marketing landscape. Our host, Matt Yorke, Global Chief Revenue Officer at Foundry, delves into the latest marketing trends, providing peer insights for tech marketers.