CMOs Feel the Heat from Seven Transformational Forces

Kathleen Schaub

Kathleen Schaub is the vice-president of IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice in the US.

Each day, a CMO spends a significant portion of time on things that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. In 10 more years, the changes to the marketing function will be even more acute.

IDC believes CMOs are feeling the heat from seven powerful transformational forces. CMOs are responding with a multitude of initiatives requiring substantial investments in people, process, and technology. These technology investments are spurring the growth of the CMO as the most important new IT buying centre.

CMOs are feeling the heat from seven transformational forces at play in their world. Four of these forces (which are described below) - new buyer demographics, the power of social, the rise of mobility, and the business process mash-up - are demand-side driven. That is, they arise from forces outside of the CMO's control. Like it or not, they push CMOs to make an immediate and significant response.

The other three transformational forces - analytics, multi-channel orchestration, and operational optimisation - are supply-side driven. CMOs can choose whether to participate. However, few will sit on the sidelines because these forces offer tremendous transformational benefits and CMOs will be unable to go very far to address the urgent, exciting and occasionally frightening, demand-side forces unless they also tackle the supply-side.

CMOs urgently need technology to respond to each and any of these seven forces, creating a marketing technology marketplace that is potentially huge. However, today this marketplace is noisy, crowded, confusing, and full of overlapping, yet insufficient and immature products. The opportunity is just beginning. Technology winners will be those that best assist CMOs to master these forces.

Four Supply-side Transformational Forces

1. New Buyer Demographics

Today's buyers are fundamentally different from those in the past. They are digitally equipped and savvy, interconnected (social), and informed. Due to social and economic shifts, they are also more value-oriented, less trusting, less loyal, and with higher expectations for respect, service, and entertainment. One-to-one marketing has been the holy grail of marketing for many years. While it is still out of reach, changes in buyer demographics demand that vendors dramatically step up their efforts to create personalised, relevant, and valuable, commercial experiences – or pay the price. CMOs require technology to listen to and monitor buyers, as well as the ability to respond in personalised, service-oriented ways.

2. The Power of Social

Companies are just beginning to realize the implications of the extremely fast and pervasive adoption of social technologies. Initially, CMOs consider social to be an exciting new PR or ad channel, another place to get news out, influence the influencers, and maybe go viral. However, the true power of social is far more transformational and, perhaps, more frightening. Social media represents a shift in marketing norms (what's acceptable and what's not) so that companies must learn new ways to engage. CMOs require technology to participate in the many-to-many social conversations, including social listening, socialytics (social analytics), and social dialog tools – both owned by the company and external platforms)

3. The Rise of Mobility

Smart devices explode the wealth of interaction capabilities available to marketers. Smart mobile devices are in one sense, another incremental, albeit important, 'screen' for communications or apps. Even at this level, smart devices are an important new content channel for many CMOs. However, smart devices offer much more promise that just content delivery. Sensors including those for proximity, light, vibration, temperature, and movement, deliver new kinds of data about consumers and offer opportunities to engage in innovation and game-changing ways. Mobilising marketing requires a large range of technologies. Only a few CMOs have begun true mobile initiatives.

4. Business Process Mash-up

As the brand steward and the default owner of the digital dialog, the CMO cannot avoid broader responsibility when the digital customer experience bursts traditional organisational and process boundaries. An online consumer is oblivious to which business function is responsible for his or her experience. Buyers couldn't care less that the sales rep forgot to check out the buyer's preference profile or that the annoying email that they just opted-out of was from customer service, not marketing. Especially important is the integration of marketing and sales. The sales process has become, at best, compressed, and in some cases completely dis-intermediated. CMOs must double-down on the alignment with sales in order to deliver the required quality of customer engagement. Technologies for business process mash-up include those for lead management and sales enablement.

Three Demand-side Transformational Forces

5. Analytics

Digital channels produce an abundance of data that can be mined for insight and optimisation. Analytics transforms marketing because it reveals critical information that was previously unavailable, but now changes everything. Analytics is also transformational because of the deep changes needed in the marketing mindset and skill-set. IDC divides analytics into three types:

  • Psychologically predictive analytics – evaluating signals that provide clues to customer behaviour, leading to an informed next step of engagement or next-best-offer.

  • Operational analytics – making the best choices in the face of constraints (money, talent, time, etc.) this operations research supports process efficiency and improvement.

  • Financial analytics – planning and monitoring of marketing activities and initiatives, determining the portfolio of investments across marketing, and related processes from a cost and profitability perspective.

6. Multi-channel orchestration

In the last decade, digital technology has added dozens of new engagement channels and 'screens' to the marketing arsenal and there is no slow-down in sight. The goal of multi-channel integration is to provide seamless, coherent, customer experience regardless of where the customer is. Combined with analytics, multi-channel integration offers the promise of recreating the intimacy of the corner-store. But while value accelerates as new channels are added, so does management complexity. Significant organisation changes and technology support is required for content management, data management, and campaign management across the myriad of channels.

7. Optimising Operations Many marketing leaders believe that in the future Return-on-Investment (ROI) will be the primary metric on which CMOs will be evaluated. While some CMOs in some industries have been able to measure the value of discrete programs, marketing ROI has been mostly immeasurable. CMO seek technology that will help them become accountable and transparent. In addition, CMOs can only attempt so much transformation before the lack of infrastructure, lack of skills, and process complexity push operational requirements into the urgent category.

Marketing will undergo the same operational transformation that earlier transformed other company functions such as finance, manufacturing, and customer service. Technology is needed to master a wide range of marketing processes. They range from basic budgeting, planning, and resource management, through the management of specific program elements such as pricing, events, creative, couponing, partner programs, and much more.

Tags: IDC, managing technology, marketing careers, data and analysis, CMO role

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