Digital era seen changing marketing industry, uncovers gap in CMO training

Friday, November 25, 2011

The explosion of data, the development of multichannels and growing customer demands have created a turning point for the marketing industry, and are expected to change some ground rules in the next three to five years, according to a study conducted by IBM (NYSE: IBM).

The study reveals that the majority of chief marketing officers (CMOs) recognize there is an ongoing critical transformation in the way companies interact with clients, but they doubt marketing teams are prepared to face that change.

According to the study, this paradigm shift has been seen across all kinds of industries, and it is applicable both globally and to Latin America.

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However, due to the nature of the market, the telecommunications industry stands out as the most prepared for digital marketing, while financial services is at the other end of the spectrum, IBM Chile industries specialist Eduardo Jacob told BNamericas.

Four of every five CMOs consider that fundamental changes will have to be made to traditional marketing methods.

In addition, "approximately 90% of all information created in real time corresponds to non-structured data," said Carolyn Heller Baird, CRM research leader of the IBM Institute for Business Value and global manager of the study.

However, due to a gap in the preparation of CMOs, this information is not fully harnessed.

On one hand, the study reveals CMOs have difficulty trying to prove the return on investment of marketing initiatives to the company's top management. On the other hand, most top managers, mainly CFOs, admit that they themselves are not adequately connected with real time interactions concerning their brands.

This demonstrates a gap in the preparation of marketing executives, in addition to a lack of alignment within the company, according to the study.

A solution is joint work with universities, so that professionals in the marketing area have the necessary preparation for these new challenges, Jacob said.

In this respect, IBM has held initial conversations with a local university, Jacob revealed.


Though companies identify having a closer relationship with their clients as a high priority, and at the same time recognize the impact of real time data to complement traditional marketing channels, most CMOs admit they are still stuck with an approach from the 20th century.

About 80% or more of the surveyed CMOs continue to focus on traditional sources of information, such as market research and competitive benchmarking, while 68% still rely on the analysis of sales campaigns for strategic decisions.

But what is stopping the use of technology in marketing initiatives? For 72% of the executives, cost is the main issue, followed by a lack of certainty in the ROI (61%), and problems with implementing the technology (47%).

The study, conducted between February and June 2011, included one on one interviews with 1,700 CMOs in 64 countries - including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico - and 19 industries, such as distribution, financial services, telecommunications and the public sector.