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Stepping up to the Challenge: CMO Insights from the Global C-Suite Study

November 08, 2014


Submitted by Jon Busman, CMO Initiative Global Marketing Lead, IBM

The changing world of the CMO

This report focuses on how the 524 CMOs we interviewed are helping their enterprises become more “customer-activated.”

The news is both good and bad. On the one hand, CMOs are wielding more power in the boardroom, as CEOs increasingly call on them for strategic input. In fact, the CMO now comes second only to the CFO in terms of the influence he or she exerts on the CEO

A growing number of CMOs are also liaising closely with CIOs—with remarkably positive effects on the bottom line. Where the CMO and CIO work well together, the enterprise is 76 percent more likely to outperform in terms of revenues and profitability.

On the other hand, very few CMOs have made much progress in building a robust digital marketing capability. Only 20 percent have set up social networks for the purpose of engaging with customers, for example, even though online input is a crucial part of the dialogue between a company and its customers. The percentage of CMOs who have integrated their company’s interactions with customers across different channels, installed analytical programs to mine customer data and created digitally enabled supply chains to respond rapidly to changes in customer demand is even smaller

  • 82 percent of the CMOs interviewed felt underprepared to deal with the data explosion.
  • Two-thirds of all CMOs also report that they’re not ready to cope with social media

That’s not to say CMOs are ignoring technology’s potential. On the contrary, they plan to make even greater use of some key marketing technologies in the next three to five years. Predictive analytics and mobile applications feature particularly high on their wish lists, although customer relationship management and collaboration tools come close behind. And 74 percent of CMOs intend to partner more extensively in the future to help them realize their goals.

So how do you succeed in the digital world? CMOs told us there are three prerequisites:

  1. Taking action:   Use advanced analytics for deep customer insight
    1. Get the CIO on your side: Work with the CIO to build a secure and scalable cognitive analytics capability within your organization. Analytics is also the CIO’s number one priority now. Seize the opportunity to create an infrastructure that can produce actionable customer insights.
    2. Invest in analytics: Assess the maturity of your marketing organization and expectations of your customers. Identify which phases of the customer lifecycle are likely to be most important to your business in the next few years. Invest in analytics to support the phases you plan to concentrate on, and don’t attempt to be all things to all people.
    3. Fuse for clues: Integrate obvious sources of information (point-of-sale data, loyalty programs, etc.) with intelligence from other sources, such as real-time conversations on social networks that mention your brand, products or service. Use the insights you glean to inform a wide range of business and marketing activities, including building better customer understanding across the organization as a whole.
  1. Taking action:   Design rewarding customer experiences
    1. Start with the big picture: Create a clear vision, strategy and plan for what you’re trying to achieve. Design your activities around those areas that most need improvement: greater insight or understanding; a more consistent experience across customer touch points; deeper relationships with customers; or turning customers into loyal advocates.
    2. Put value first: Think about how the customer lifecycle is changing and how to create value for your customers at every step on the customer journey. Take particular account of the desires and behavior of digitally empowered customers and citizens. Update your customer journey map accordingly. Don’t limit your thinking just to “social.”
    3. Convert customers into colleagues: Make collaborating with customers, as distinct from marketing to them, the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Enable customers to share their experiences with you and with others in the customer community. The goal is to have a two-way dialog—which means relinquishing complete control of your brand, and giving the customer a voice in what your organization does and how it does it.
  1. Taking action:   Effectively execute on the customer promise
    1. Prioritize mobility: Put serious time and effort into ensuring the mobile experiences you offer are as fulfilling, compelling and sticky as the online and physical experiences you provide. Start with smartphones, then tablets, then other mobile devices.
    2. Move to the future, fast: Accelerate the path to change. Exploit new technologies and new partnerships to deliver superb customer experiences. Gain a solid grounding in analytics (in particular) as well as other enabling technologies such as marketing automation, customer collaboration and relationship management tools.
    3. Connect the dots: Invest in integrated software to manage your relationships with actual and prospective customers and ensure you interact consistently with them, regardless of the channels they use. Digitally empowered customers expect the organizations they engage with to recognize them, understand their individual needs and serve them accordingly.

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To see the full C-Suite report, visit:  Exploring the Inner Circle: CMO Insights from the Global C-Suite Study

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