IDC 10 Predictions on the Changing Role of the Chief Marketing Officer

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In this digital age, marketing responsibilities have expanded to include multichannels, big data, content management, customer experience and more. Does the C-suite title of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) cover this — or has the role evolved into a Chief “Something-or-Other”?

International Data Corporation (IDC) has developed ten 2014 predictions about the CMO’s changing role. CMSWire.com spoke to with Kathleen Schaub, IDC’s vice president of the CMO Advisory Service, to get a better sense of the issues.

CMOs are going through a radical transformation, driven by multichannel customer choices, data analysis and marketing technology. Given the fast-moving river that is digital marketing, one could argue that almost any prediction thrown out will hit something, but IDC’s are based on its accumulated research. Here, in order, are the research firm’s Top Ten Predictions for CMOs, plus our comments. Weigh in with your own perspectives in the comment section below.

No. 1: The CMO role becomes "open for definition" as today’s CMO job description becomes more complex and critical.

Seems guaranteed, but this could arguably also apply to the CEO, CIO or Chief Content Officer. In this river of change, all major roles are open for definition, although marketing is particularly fluid. Schaub pointed out that, to overcome territorial issues, some companies choose to designate a Chief Innovation Officer, who oversees marketing, IT and products.

No. 2: Innovative CMO and CIO pairs will throw out the rule book when it comes to IT’s support of marketing.

It’s been scientifically demonstrated that CMOs are from Mars and CIOs from Venus — or vice versa —and, being from separate planets, they speak separate languages. Maybe the rule book in question has been translated into both languages, but we’ve never seen a copy, although we have seen studies describing the gap between the two roles. What does appear to be common, especially in smaller companies, is that marketing is going around IT by employing cloud services, and IT is scrambling to keep up.

No. 3: By 2020, the marketing function in leading companies will be radically reshaped into three organization "systems" – content, channels and consumption (data).

Schaub noted that, in most companies, a “digital skin” covers all touchpoints with the customer — even in physical stores, where customers might be shopping with a smartphone or interacting through in-store kiosks. As a result, she said, there are “superstructures” centered around content, multichannels and data that flow between marketing, sales, customer service and other departmental silos. These superstructures are key reasons why the silos are breaking down.

No. 4: The best marketers will understand "Content Marketing" does not equal "Thought Leadership."

If this appears to be a “duh!” Schaub pointed out  “one person’s duh! is another person’s aha!” Some marketing people, she said, still think a key goal of content marketing is to position the company as a leader. Schaub said content marketing’s primary role is not about determining the leading edge, but about supporting the customer’s journey.

No. 5: Multichannel coverage becomes an opportunity and a challenge, as CMOs integrate media silos.

No. 6: 80 percent of customer data will be wasted due to immature enterprise data "value chains.”

Schaub said this is because of companies with inefficient data capture and analyses, which results in data not being captured, or captured but not utilized, or utilized but not proven useful. Since marketing has become a data-driven effort, this prediction points to a huge area for improvement.

No. 7: By the end of 2014, 60 percent of CMOs will have formal recruiting processes for people with data skills.

No 8: Only 20 percent of marketers will receive formal training on analytics and customer data management.

Both of these predictions point to the importance of data collection/analysis for contemporary marketing, and both point to the mismatch between need, processes and training.

No. 9: Fragmented marketing IT point products and low adoption rate will inhibit companies’ ability to win customers.

As some studies have noted, marketing suites, particularly marketing automation, have only begun to integrate the various functions needed for a full spectrum approach to customer marketing and management.

No. 10: Digital marketing investment will exceed 50 percent of total program budget by 2016.

In other words, not only are marketing’s needs across channels becoming larger, but marketing is now including a wider range of services and products — CRM, content marketing, social media and so on.

Given the blurring of boundaries between the various departmental efforts to acquire and keep customers in the age of the digital company, these thought-provoking predictions do more than ask what will be considered marketing in the typical company. They suggest that it’s more valid to ask what won’t.

Title image by violetkaipa (Shutterstock).