Complexity a Top Challenge for CMOs

By | October 19, 2011

Two weeks ago on The Digital Nirvana, I covered the DMA2011 conference & exhibition, highlighting how DMA is making a clear shift to embrace more digital, real-time forms of media and marketing. It’s clear that these areas are where marketers are gravitating toward. While print is still an important component in a more diverse marketing mix, it is becoming a much more targeted touchpoint in a broader, more complex marketing lifecycle.

According to a recently released study by IBM, complexity is a top challenge for the world’s CMOs, largely driven by the explosion of data,  social media platforms, the proliferation of channels & devices available, and the shifting nature of consumer demographics. For this study, IBM conducted face-to-face interviews with over 1,700 marketing executives from around the world as part of series on understanding C-level challenges and opportunities. The resulting report, entitled “From Stretched to Strengthened”, paints a picture of chief marketers that need to do more with less, deal with technology on a more intimate level, and ensure that the marketing strategies and tactics they use are effective and measurable.

Regarding the topic of complexity, IBM found that CMOs face a a “complexity gap”; almost 80% of CMOs believe that the world will become more complex over the next five years, but only 48% feel that they are prepared to handle this increase in complexity. Other important insights from the study include:

  • CMOs and their marketing organizations are making strategic decisions based on broad market information versus information from individual customers. For instance, 74% of CMOs reported using customer analytics to understand their individual customers, but other sources like consumer-generated reviews, third-party reviews/ratings, and online communications fell below the 50% mark. Marketers need to be more customer-focused, and leveraging these types of data sources can help them do that.
  • Technology is a much more important factor in marketing organizations these days, but there are two primary barriers to leveraging technology more effectively: cost and lack of ROI certainty. Furthermore, end-user skill sets and marketing’s alignment with IT are key concerns for CMOs looking to make greater use of technology.

IBM, of course, has made significant investments in acquiring data and marketing technology providers over the last few years, including Cognos, Coremetrics, and Unica, so this research fits quite nicely into the company’s narrative of helping marketers conquer some of these challenges through IBM’s technology. That being said, this also means that there is a substantial opportunity for service providers to help marketers solve some of these problems by utilizing data, making marketing more measurable, and ultimately simplifying the complex nature of this new world of marketing and communications. What are you doing to help your clients simplify the complex while driving strong return on marketing investment?

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One thought on “Complexity a Top Challenge for CMOs

  1. kit hamilton

    Bryan, This is a challenge we’ve been helping clients tackle – two key ways we’re helping them simplify and focus include:
    1) Improving access to information across their organizations – when new channels (web, email, mobile, social media) emerged, most companies addressed them with new, specialized departments. However, that meant info was pouring into the organizations but not being effectively shared. Different systems, platforms, etc. popped up within these silos, so even as the people in the departments talked to each other, their technology often did not. We help clients integrate for a better view of customer interactions across different channels and touchpoints – and so that they can carry on more informed interactions going forward.
    2) Rather than helping marketers just do more (more messages, more channels), we help them market smarter. Using analytics to guide communications enables better targeting, less waste, and, ultimately a better ROI. We’ve got an upcoming webinar on Using Analytics to Drive Better Communications you may be interested in –

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