“Data Explosion” and “Customer Collaboration and Influence” tops with CMO’s

“Data Explosion” rated by largest percentage of Global CMO’s as the number one issue in terms of “under-preparedness”, and “Customer Collaboration and Influence” rated number one in terms of “factors impacting marketing”

Top rated factors in terms of both impact on marketing and under-preparedness were:

-Data Explosion 

-Social media

-Growth of channel and device choices

-Shifting consumer demographic


The data explosion tops the list of headaches. More than 70 percent of the CMOs who think it’s important say they aren’t fully prepared to deal with its impact. ‘One of our biggest challenges is in data analysis. For the complexity and size of our organisation, we are way behind,’ a consumer products CMO in the United States admitted. 

He’s certainly not alone. ‘We’re drowning in data. What we lack are true insights,’ a life sciences CMO in Switzerland commented. An energy and utilities CMO in the Netherlands put the problem even more bluntly: ‘At this moment, I don’t know how our marketing department will cope with the expected data explosion.’ 

Social media and the growing number of channels and devices from which customers can choose, come a close second and third in terms of the anxiety they generate. ‘We need to manage the ‘open box’ of social media and the transparency it brings. Communication via social media is completely different from traditional communication tools or channels,’ a consumer products CMO in Poland said. 

Reflecting on the impact of social media, an aerospace and defence CMO in the United States warned, ‘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.’

The changing characteristics of consumers also feature prominently among CMOs’ biggest concerns. Sixty-three percent believe shifting consumer demographics will have a significant impact on their marketing functions. However, only 37 percent feel substantially or fully prepared to deal with the shift. ‘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,’ an insurance CMO in Turkey observed


Indeed, the marketplace itself is fracturing, as several respondents pointed out. ‘Mass markets don’t exist anymore; they are splintered,’ an insurance CMO in Australia noted. A consumer products CMO in Singapore commented similarly, ‘The perfect solution is to serve each consumer individually. The problem? There are seven billion of them.’

The pressure is universal. To sum up, CMOs are stretched. Even those who work for the most successful organisations are struggling. In the course of our research, we asked respondents to assess their organisation’s position within the industry in which it competes. (We statistically corroborated their self-assessments using publicly available information. Further details are available on page 63 of the report) 

Our analysis shows CMOs in outperforming organisations are better prepared to manage some of the most critical pain points. Yet less than half of them feel completely ready. Those in underperforming organisations are even more uncertain of their ability to cope.


In fact, one of the most surprising findings to emerge from our study is the degree of consensus among the respondents. No matter where they work, their industry, or how large or successful their organisations are, CMOs are facing many of the same challenges and most feel underprepared to manage them.

This picture holds true even between CMOs working for business-to-consumer companies and business-to-business organisations, where we expected to see some variations in perspective. Of course, a growing number of manufacturers are selling directly to consumers, as well as through retailers, blurring the historical demarcation between the two business models. Yet that, alone, is insufficient to account for the similarity.

The common thread among the responses we received testifies, rather, to the magnitude of the changes now occurring in the marketplace – changes so momentous they have flattened out most differences. In the midst of this major shift, CMOs’ responses collectively point to three key areas in which they and their marketing staff need to improve. They must:

• Deliver value to empowered customers

• Foster lasting connections

• Capture value and measure the results of their efforts

Source: Full Report “From Stretched to Strengthened, Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officers Study”, October, 2011, IBM C-Suite Studies





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