According to Nils Bohr, Nobel laureate in Physics, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

Nevertheless, every year since 2007, the forecasters of IDC gaze into their crystal ball (which contains research, surveys, interviews, etc.) and reveal their predictions, along with recommendations for how best to navigate through the probabilities they present. In its recent FutureScape, “CMO Advisory 2015 Predictions,” Framingham, Mass.-based IDC (International Data Corporation) gave a glimpse of what the future may hold for the Chief Marketing Officers of tech firms.

For instance:

  • 2015: One in three marketing organizations will deliver content targeted toward all stages of the buyers’ journey
  • 2016: Twenty-five percent of marketing organizations will solve critical skill gaps by deploying centers of excellence.
  • 2017: Seventy percent of B2B mobile customer apps will fail to return on their investments because they lack sufficient customer value-add
  • 2018: One in four CMOs will be replaced every year through 2018

Making the case for these forecasts were company representatives, Kathleen Schaub, VP CMO Advisory Service; Rich Vancil, Group VP, Executive Advisory Group and Gerry Murray, research manager, CMO Advisory Service.

Turnover, Skill Gaps


According to Vancil, the dire 2018 prediction concerning chief marketing officer turnover is partially due to a disparity between CEO expectations and the hiring of the CMO to execute them. “If the CEO isn't sure what he wants when he makes the job requisitions specification, it's not surprising that the CEO might be disappointed if the CMO doesn’t perform over those first 12 or 24 months.”

Additionally, Vancil noted that many CMOs don’t actually come from marketing backgrounds, but instead from engineering, development, sales or product management, a clear mismatch as he sees it. The basic recommendations from IDC to help resolve the two issues are:

  • CEOs need a deeper understanding of the job role of the CMO.
  • CMOs must clearly understand the overall business context of their role.

Vancil also remarked on the shortage of technical and operational skill sets in marketing organizations. The solution, he explained, would be the deployment of centers of excellence -- “virtual teams that are assembled to tackle specific problems to fill these gaps,” and using them to mine an organization’s skills in less conventional ways. By way of example, he cited a situation at Intel in which the company “mined the resources of their own organization” by creating employee-led courses and curriculum to achieve the needed levels of proficiency.

Buyers’ Journeys


If challenges from within come from skill gaps, it seems almost ironic that Schaub’s topic should be about overly self-sufficient buyers who don’t feel the need to talk with salespeople. This, she explained, is where content marketing comes in. “Every marketing organization is working on content marketing,” she stated, although Schaub believes the real opportunity -- and challenge -- lies in educating organizations about these enlightened buyers. However, Schaub reminded us that the grim statistic is that only about one-third of organizations will achieve competency in reaching this content marketing goal within any given year.

Another issue driving IDC’s decision imperatives deals with line of business buyers -- “In 2015, only one in five companies will retool to reach LOB buyers and outperform those selling exclusively to IT.”

According to Schaub, line of business cloud-oriented purchases could make up as much as 90 percent of future IT industry growth. She warned: “You ignore this trend at your peril.” But she also noted IDC’s findings that line of business buyers are more of a challenge -- both less experienced with technology purchasing and made up of larger teams taking longer to make decisions. Her recommendation was to “understand the buyer and the journey.”

The full set of decision imperatives and IDC recommendations can be summed up in three points:

  1. Identify the most important buyers’ journeys for your company
  2. Over-invest in marketing technology
  3. Set the marketing organization and talent base down a new path

According to Vancil, that new path leads to the final prediction in IDC’s presentation -- that 20 percent of B2B CMOs will be driving budget increases through attribution of results to revenue by 2018, "is a goal that we've wanted for a long time to be able to show to CFOs and CEOs: Here is what marketing can do to achieve tangible growth for the business and because of that, we want budget increases to drive more of the same results.”

Title image by Laurel F (Flickr) via a CC BY-SA 2.0 license