Digital era transforming CMO's agenda

Amr Talaat, General Manager, IBM Egypt

A new IBM study of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers from 64 countries and 19 industries reveals that the majority of the world’s top marketing executives recognize a critical and permanent shift occurring in the way they engage with their customers, but question whether their marketing organizations are prepared to manage the change.

The research shows that the measures used to evaluate marketing are changing. Nearly two-thirds of CMOs think return on marketing investment will be the primary measure of the marketing function’s effectiveness by 2015. But even among the most successful enterprises, half of all CMOs feel insufficiently prepared to provide hard numbers.

And most of these executives – responsible for the integrated marketing of their organization’s products, services and brand reputations – say they lack significant influence in key areas such as product development, pricing and selection of sales channels.

The IBM study found that while 82% of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years, only 26% are currently tracking blogs, 42% are tracking third party reviews and 48% are tracking consumer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies.

“The inflection point created by social media represents a permanent change in the nature of customer relationships,” said Amr Talaat, General Manager, IBM Egypt. “Approximately 90% of all the real-time information being created today is unstructured data. CMOs who successfully harness this new source of insight will be in a strong position to increase revenues, reinvent their customer relationships and build new brand value.”

CMOs are aware of this changing landscape, but are struggling to respond. More than 50% of CMOs think they are underprepared to manage key market forces – from social media to greater customer collaboration and influence – indicating that they will have to make fundamental changes to traditional methods of brand and product marketing.

While, Eighty-percent or more of the CMOs surveyed are still focusing primarily on traditional sources of information such as market research and competitive benchmarking, and 68% rely on sales campaign analysis to make strategic decisions.

Collectively, the study findings point to four key challenges that CMOs everywhere are confronting: the explosion of data, social media, channel and device choices and shifting demographics will be pervasive, universal game changers for their marketing organizations over the next three to five years. But a large majority of CMOs feel unprepared to manage their impact.

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