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CMOs Struggling To Keep Up With The Digital Revolution

In a wide-ranging survey of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers from 64 countries and 19 industries, IBM’s 2011 Global CMO Study revealed that a large portion of CMOs, while excited at all the changes happening in the marketplace - are ill-equipped to deal with and manage it. 

Back in July I shared with you the results of the State of Marketing Report from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council which revealed that "Social Media And Integration is Chief Among Marketers' Priorities." Then in September it was the results of a study conducted by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business that showed that "CMO's To Increase Spending On Social Media But Integration Still Lacking."

And today I want to share some of the results of the aforementioned IBM 2011 Global CMO Study which revealed four (4) key challenges that CMOs feel unprepared to manage: 

  1. The explosion of data. It goes without saying we are ALL swimming in a sea of data. It's all around us and the key will be not only managing all of it but measuring it and gleaning the right information from it. Yes the operative word is "right." One CMO survey put it very bluntly "At this moment, I don’t know how our marketing department will cope with the expected data explosion.”
  2. The social media revolution. As the aforementioned previous surveys/studies indicated, CMOs recognize the importance of social media, however, as one CMO put it “The risk is huge, whether you touch it or not. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you reduce the risk by not trying to manage it.” That last line should scream at every CMO: Never make the fatal, yes fatal, mistake of assuming you are reducing the risk by deciding not to manage social media. 
  3. The proliferation of channels and devices. Consumers are continually inundated with advertising and marketing messages just as they are continually seeking the latest device to theoretically make their life easier. From mobile phones to tablets to whatever comes next, marketers need to always stay on top of the ever-changing technological landscape. 
  4. The ever-shifting demographics of consumers. 63% & 37%. That's the difference between the number of CMOs who believe a shift in consumer demographics will have a significant impact on their marketing functions and decisions and. the number of CMOs who believe they are either substantially or fully prepared to handle this shift in the first place. As one CMO put it “A new generation with totally different needs and consumption habits is coming. Companies will have to adapt to this change in order to survive in the marketplace."


In terms of areas of improvement, the majority of CMOS identified three (3) key areas to improve upon: 

  1. Customers are empowered and we need to deliver value to them. "If CMOs are to understand and provide value to empowered customers and citizens, they will have to concentrate on getting to know individuals as well as markets. They will also have to invest in new technologies and advanced analytics to get a better grasp of how individual customers behave."
  2. Create customers for life. "To effectively cultivate meaningful relationships with their customers, CMOs will have to connect with them in ways their customers perceive as valuable. This entails engaging with customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle, building online and offline communities of interest and collaborating with the rest of the C-suite to fuse the internal and external faces of the enterprise."
  3. Measurement, ROI and self-improvement. "CMOs will have to quantify and analyze the financial results of their marketing initiatives and communicate them to the wider organization to enhance the marketing function’s credibility and effectiveness. They also will have to inject new skills into the marketing function by expanding the digital, analytical and financial capabilities of existing employees and by hiring staff or by partnering with specialists to fill the gaps. And since it’s important to lead by example, CMOs will need to invest in enhancing their own expertise in these areas as well."

    Although it would appear from the survey that many CMOs need to be more cognizant and take more seriously their lack of skills for when asked to name which attributes they personally need to be improve upon only 28% said technological competence, 25% identified social media and 16% said financial acumen. Those are some pretty telling numbers boys and girls, especially the first two. The last one perhaps you can chalk up to their belief that that's what a CFO is for but the first two? Maybe it's just me but shouldn't that be part of their job?


Most CMOs pay more attention to markets than individuals.

That's a line directly from the survey findings and I wanted to use it verbatim here because it is extremely disconcerting as this chart below...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 26% of CMOs track blogs
  • 42% track 3rd party reviews
  • 48% track consumer reviews to use as part of their marketing strategy


I have to tell you those statistics blow me away. On one hand you have CMOs telling us how important social media is and how vital it is to engage with your customers, to theoretically hear what they have to say yet on the other hand you have these CMOs telling us that they place more priority on the "impersonal" factors. I am not saying these "impersonal" factors are not important... they are. But you should not have to sacrifice one for the other. "... blogs, consumer reviews and third-party reviews disclose what discrete customers want. They provide a rich source of information about customer sentiment, with context, that can help companies more accurately predict demand patterns."

Carolyn Heller Baird, CRM research lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value and global director of the study, thinks CMOs are suffering from tunnel vision when it comes to traditional marketing vs. digital: "They’re (CMOs) still very focused on traditional market sources and less focused on digital sources and they could be looking at what people are thinking. We think this is something they need to pay a lot more attention to. What that requires is a shift of priorities and investment. They’re kind of in the middle of that transformation now.”

There's a wealth of information to be gleaned from the survey findings and I highly recommend you reading it, however I want to share one more line fro the findings...

"The most effective CMOs focus on getting to know individuals, not just markets. They mine new digital information sources. And they use customer analytics to turn data into insights on which their organizations can act."

I would add to this that the most effective CMOs identifiy not just his/her marketing department core strengths but also their weaknesses. To paraphrase Dirty Harry "A man (or woman) has to know their limitations." Translation: Work with outside agencies who can help you with those weaknesses and help you meet those challenges head on and help you be ultimately successful. 

Sounds easy yet why do I think so many CMOs  - be they from the B2B Marketing or B2C Marketing side of the fence, won't get it?

Source: BM 2011 Global CMO Study