CMOs should aim to be ‘digital pacesetters’: IBM

Today’s chief marketing officer (CMO) is enjoying more influence with their boss and working more collaboratively with their CIO colleagues, but still have their work cut out for them when it comes to building out a digital marketing capability, according to a new study.

The IBM Corp. study is the fourth instalment of its ongoing Global C-Suite Study that involves surveys completed by line-of-business executives around the world. IBM interviewed 4,183 executives between February and June 2013, including 524 CMOs, 61 of which were based in North America.

Since its last study in 2011, there are more CMOs feeling underprepared for dealing with an increasingly digital world, according to IBM. Today 82 per cent of marketers feel that way compared to 71 per cent in 2011.


One reason many may feel underprepared is that they haven’t built out the digital capabilities they need. For example, just 20 per cent have to a large extent built out social networks to engage with customers. Other prongs of digital marketing strategy see decreasingly less participation, such as created integrated customer touchpoints across physical and digital channels or deploying advanced analytics to capture customer insight across all touchpoints.

To examine some best practices, IBM segmented out 30 per cent of CMOs it describes as “Digital Pacesetters.” Defined by being more prepared for digital marketing, ready to handle increase mobile and social traffic from various devices, these marketers are creating the physical-digital enterprise and regularly use advanced analytics. The result of these activities, according to IBM, is that digital pacesetters help their companies perform better financially.

The more advanced CMO segment told IBM that all the data collection and the insights it helps generate goes toward creating a more consistent and positive customer journey. The IBM study quotes the CMO of a Canadian bank to demonstrate how the customer remains the singular focus for marketing executives.

“We’re increasing the emphasis on the customer: building a better understanding of digital, mobile and social media, drawing insights form knowledge and analytics, and collaborating with technology partners to enhance the customer experience,” the anonymous Canadian says.

Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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