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CMOs not ready for new world of marketing

A new study reveals that chief marketing officers are barely clued into the volume of data from social communications and other new-school marketing techniques.

The majority of the world's top marketing executives recognize the shift in marketing norms but are not well-prepared to deal with it, a new study reveals.

Even among the most successful enterprises, half of all CMOs feel insufficiently prepared to provide hard numbers in regards to return on marketing investment, according to IBM's study, which surveyed more than 1,700 chief marketing officers from 64 countries and 19 industries.

Despite a wealth of tools available to track social media and public relations, the IBM study found that only 26 percent of CMOs are tracking blogs, 42 percent are tracking third-party reviews, and 48 percent are tracking consumer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies.

The study found four key challenges that CMOs feel unprepared to manage: the explosion of data, social media, channel and device choices, and shifting demographics. The explosion of data is heavily influenced by the other supporting challenges, all of which are collecting more and more information while not necessarily adding intelligence to the data.

  • Data growth: As mentioned above, societal changes have created more and more data to be managed--not just in marketing areas--and while there are more and more tools available for the analysis of said data, CMOs are still in a deficit position.
  • Social platforms: Social platforms introduce interesting challenges in relation to the fact that the content lives outside an enterprise as well as the fact that companies have little control over what is said about them online.
  • Channel and device choices: The multitude of devices that are in play create new opportunities but also challenges for marketers in terms of knowing the channels in which to interact with users.
  • Shifting demographics: Marketers need to react quickly to societal changes, such as the growing online populations of India and China. Additionally, younger people entering the workforce have a different expectation of interacting with companies.

The IBM survey surmises that CMOs must boost their own digital, technological, and financial proficiency, but many seem surprisingly reticent in this respect.

When asked which attributes they will need to be personally successful over the next three to five years, only 28 percent said technological competence, 25 percent said social media expertise, and 16 percent said financial acumen. All of which lead me to believe that many CMOs need to start taking their lack of skills more seriously, or they need to determine what will make them successful, if not enhancing the skills mentioned above.