customer experience, The CMO: The C-Suite's Enigmatic Executive

CMOs, we hardly know ye. You are an enigma. 

Are you the tech-savvy, ambitious executive ready to embrace the digitized marketing world of social, mobile, Web and analytics? Are you the cautious one afraid to break away from traditional tactics and metrics? Are you focused on only one trend, like social?

Who the heck are you?

IBM tried to find the answer. It interviewed 4,183 CMOs three years ago and revisited with 524 of them again and released a report this week that suggests CMOs know what's coming in the digital revolution but often aren't prepared.

Not Ready to Rock

customer experience, The CMO: The C-Suite's Enigmatic Executive

So let's get this straight: CMOs know the digital marketing tsunami is coming, but won't be able to handle it when it hits? Pretty much.

The study reveals that 94 percent of CMOs believe advanced analytics will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals. However, an increased number of CMOs say their organizations are underprepared to capitalize on the data explosion: 82 percent compared to 71 percent three years before.

John Kennedy, vice president of marketing for IBM Global Business Services, called that increase an "ah-ha" moment for he and fellow researchers.

"We would have expected CMOs to be making a lot of progress against these issues," he told CMSWire.

Where seven out of 10 CMOs said they were unprepared to handle big data and analytics three years ago, IBM felt, Kennedy said, that number would decline this time around.

"The landscape itself is changing faster than how marketers can adapt to it," Kennedy said. "It's not only a function of the explosion of data itself, but also the fact that the expectation of customers are changing. We're living in a world where customers in all industries are expecting a level of personalization. ... It requires a level of coordination across all these technologies."

CMO's Personas

The study also identified three types of CMOs: traditionalists (37 percent), social strategists (33 percent) and digital pacesetters (30 percent). Digital pacesetters are, according to IBM, financial outperformers and are characterized by:

  • Preparedness for the dramatic growth of data, social and mobile channels
  • Integration of physical and digital sales and service channels
  • Regular use of advanced analytics to extract insights from customer data

Kennedy said the CMO social strategists remain "camped out over social." Instead of embracing all of these technologies, they're focused only on social and are less inclined to focus on analytics, data, and mobile. They're not building out a bigger infrastructure to engage all channels. 

CFO No. 1, CMO No. 2

Although they may not be prepared for the data onslaught, CMOs are moving up the C-suite chain. About 63 percent of CEOs interviewed by IBM lean on CMOs to help formulate their business strategy, second only to the CFO (72 percent). 

It represents a new level of involvement, Kennedy said, at which CMOs are contributing at the C-suite level. The number of CEOs looking toward the CMO on business strategy "validates a lot of talk in the industry for the expanding role of the CMO," Kennedy told CMSWire.

And in no surprise, the study also found that when a CMO has a close working relationship with the CIO, the enterprise is more likely to perform better overall. High-performing CMOs were reported to have a stronger working relationship with CIOs than those identified as financial underperformers.

Title image by joyfull (Shutterstock).