Marketers, managers, content experts and other key stakeholders too often get trapped by their own tunnel vision — and Cathy McKnight wants to help them break free. By learning from one each other's perspective, business leaders can better address today's challenging questions, she explained.

It's a key part of the philosophy she espouses at New York City-based Digital Clarity Group (DCG) a research-driven advisory firm focused on helping business leaders navigate the digital transformation. McKnight is Vice President of Consulting and Operations for the four year old firm, which she co-founded.

McKnight has more than 15 years of experience and expertise with content management, marketing technologies, intranets and customer experience. Her work has seen her take a leadership role with business transformation as well as empowering enterprise technology deployments.

Before DCG, she held leadership positions at multiple companies.

She was the innovation lead and senior associate for the communications consulting team at Aon Hewitt. She led a team of consultants in creating enterprise intranet strategies and technology selection projects for a diverse number of global clients as director of client services at Prescient Digital media. And as senior communications advisor at IBM, she led budget planning, intranet management, and strategy and messaging of the company's values and mission to internal enterprise audiences.

In each of those roles, collaboration is a key theme — and so is encouraging people to broaden their perspectives to achieve a common goal. McKnight said she continues to assist organizations in empowering their technology to boost performance and improve overall business strategy, as well as to push people beyond “their own microcosm” when it comes to evaluating the ideas, concepts and opportunities surrounding their work.

McKnight will delve deeper into her philosophy and its impact on digital transformation at CMSWire's DX Summit this Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago.

We chatted with her recently for a preview of her thoughts on marketing technology, digital customer experience and other business trends.

Broaden Your Viewpoint

Walter: What do you plan to discuss during your session at the DX Summit?

McKnight: I want to bring perspective. Everybody gets caught in their own microcosm and view of the world, whether it's perception of a new concept or the way they looking at a new technology or approach to a problem. We have a tendency to look at these things through our own lens.

I want to get people thinking about things from a broader perspective, so everyone can think through the views of the key stakeholders: the sponsor, business stakeholder, vendor, service provider and external consultant. We’re going to get people into those roles through a role playing activity so they can experience some alternative viewpoints.

Walter: How does your work at DCG inform the perspective you'll share at the DX Summit?

McKnight: We’re a research, analytics and consulting firm. We founded ourselves on the premise of customer experience management and what it means to organizations and the impact these areas can have. Everything we do is very much centered on that, and we feel there is a lot we bring to this area in terms of our experience.

Learning Opportunities

Walter: How do you stay true to the idea of seeing one another’s perspectives?

McKnight: Both sides of our practices feed into each other. I’m in day-to-day with both sides of our organization. The roadmaps, strategy, acquisition of technology, services and other elements all feed back into what our research analysts are finding. Content management, marketing automation, marketing technology all feed off of each other and we’re very invested in understanding all sides. That’s an essential part of how we operate and it serves our needs and those of our clients well.

Walter: What are some situations where the advice can be challenging to hear?

McKnight: Sometimes vendors need a reality check, which is crucial. We often give them insight about both their roadmaps — which may be great — as well as their costs, which may not be. Because we have a trifecta of perspectives, it bodes well for us. 

Walter: There has been considerable growth in the MarTech space. What interesting things do you see happening in this area?

McKnight: Certain sectors of the space have diversified. Take marketing automation, for example. Four years ago it was straight marketing automation, with no subcategories. Now it's really branched out. When you look at the smaller, more targeted solutions, they’re a subset of these much larger ambitions. For these MarTech companies, that’s created the ability to go in small and targeted, which makes it easier to build a product. A large company like Marketo could actually be sliced and diced into five sub-companies.

Walter: What you do outside the office to recharge and stay grounded?

McKnight: I live in Toronto (Ontario) and this is prime gardening weather. Last year my work travel really precluded me from tending to my garden. It was a bit of a juggle this year but it’s been great. I have a vegetable garden and perennials. And I love the warmer weather we’re having in Toronto right now because I don’t have to go jogging with a scarf. I’ve also taken up golf, which is quite the challenge.