The majority of Canadian CMOs know they should be taking the lead in digital transformation, but barely a quarter of CEOs are giving them the freedom to do so, according to a new report from consulting firm Accenture PLC.

According to the report, “The C-level Disruptive Growth Opportunity,” 61 per cent of CMOs at Canadian organizations reported being responsible for leading what Accenture called “disruptive business growth” such as developing partnerships with digital disruptors, monetizing data, and taking advantage of digital marketing channels – but only 27 per cent of CEOs agreed.

Moreover, a clear majority of CMOs – 79 per cent – said their organizations were not prepared to exploit digital marketing channels, while 46 per cent said they weren’t receiving enough support from their company’s IT departments, and 54 per cent said they weren’t keeping pace with changing consumer behaviour – even though the CEOs surveyed estimated that 45 per cent of their companies’ revenues will come from disruptive growth initiatives during the next two years.

In a March 9 statement Berkeley Warburton, Accenture Strategy’s managing director of advanced customer strategy, said the research contained an important lesson for CEOs, by illustrating just how well positioned marketing leaders are to drive a company’s disruptive growth agenda, adding that businesses must empower their CMOs to take control or risk losing their customers to new, disruptive competitors.

“Without the unified growth efforts from across the business, Canadian companies risk losing customers to disruptive players who are delivering the experiences they want and expect,” he said. “CMOs need to refresh their data-driven agendas to translate the expanded array of customer insights into profit-producing actions. Otherwise, they may fail to maintain relevance among their customer base.”

According to Accenture, CEOs can best help their CMOs move into a disruptive growth role by:

  • Aligning their marketing and IT departments: 81 per cent of the CMOs surveyed agreed that increasing collaboration between a company’s marketing and IT departments is becoming more critical as the customer experience becomes increasingly technology-driven, yet half reported operating independently of their employer’s IT team.
  • Leveraging intelligent automation and integrating analytic capabilities: Extract customer data to produce actionable insights must play an important role in every CMO’s strategy, the report’s authors said, yet 69 per cent of CMOs said their companies allocated 20 percent or less of their budget to analytics. Even fewer CEOs – 13 per cent – said that it was important to implement intelligent automation across marketing, sales and service.
  • Understanding the complexity of the change involved: Interestingly, more CEOs than CMOs see the fundamental function of their marketing departments changing over the next five years, including how resources will be aligned, how their companies will engage customers, and the impact of analytics – but CMOs were nearly 50 percent more likely to believe that marketing would have direct accountability over a significant proportion of the company’s revenue.

“To ensure the success of the marketing organization, CMOs must work with CEOs to arrive at a shared vision of the future and agree on marketing’s role in it,” Accenture said in the March 9 release.

Accenture produced the report as part of its annual CMO Insights research, which surveyed 535 CEOs and 847 CMOs across five markets: North America, South America, Western Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, including 55 CEOs and 64 CMOs from 41 Canadian organizations.

Accenture released a handy infographic summarizing its findings, which you can check out below (click for a larger version), or read the full report here.

CMO-disconnect-infographic

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