CMO role to become more data-focused and less creative

The CMO role is to be more data-focused and less creative over the next five years because of the increased pressure to prove the ROI of campaigns, according to a report.

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IBM’s 2011 global CMO study claims that the majority of CMOs across the world still feel underprepared to meet a forecasted “data explosion” that will allow them to better measure the ROI of campaigns.

The study found that 87% of CMOs in the UK and Ireland and 71% interviewed globally said they feel ill-equipped to deal with the increasing need for analysis and the overwhelming “volume, velocity and variety” of data.

More than two thirds believe they will need to invest more extensively in new tools and technologies to develop new strategies for analysing “big data” between now and 2016, such as customer analytics, CRM, social media and mobile applications.

Cost is currently the biggest barrier to using the new tools, with almost three quarters (72%) of CMOs worldwide saying budgets are a concern.

CMOs also feel they are under increasing pressure to prove the financial ROI of campaigns, with 61% globally saying the strains of being profitable has led to them being slow to adopting new technologies for campaigns and analytics.

An “airlines executive” who was interviewed for the study, says: “The success of my role is far more about analytics and technology than it is about hanging out with my ad agency, coming up with great creative campaigns. We must increase campaign ROI.”

Elaine Fletcher, partner at IBM Global Business Services, says marketing was viewed as more of a “cost centre” in the past, but to be competitive now, companies must become “customer centric” as opposed to “product centric and channel centric”, which is one reason why ROI has come back to the fore.

Social media is one of the other areas marketers see as a headache when it comes to preparation for change over the next three to five years. Almost three quarters (70%) of interviewees in the UK and Ireland and 68% of global CMOs said social media is a market factor that they feel least prepared for, despite 68% of respondents worldwide saying they plan to increase their use of social media.

Edmond Moutran, chief executive officer of Ogilvy & Mater in the Middle East and North Africa and respondent to the study says: “A year ago, one in ten clients asked us about social media. This year, it’s nine in ten. We’re in an environment where negative blogs can lead to an emergency board meeting. That is the power of social media.”

To personally become more successful over the next three to five years, the majority of CMOs (80% in the UK and 65% globally) say they will benefit the most from building out their leadership skills rather than developing their technology, media or finance expertise.

While CMOs see the importance of improving social media, financial and technology insights in their departments, they will look to bring others on board – either internally or through agencies – to build out the skills mix in the marketing division, rather than train in those areas themselves as they feel role would become too broad.

IBM claims its inaugural 2011 global CMO study, which compiled results from interviews with more than 1,700 CMOs globally, is the largest survey of its kind worldwide.

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