CMOs See Analytics, Real-Time Campaigns, and Mobile Investments Ahead

Three-quarters of CMOs believe that marketing will undergo fundamental changes over the next five years. Yet 79 percent of those responding to the 2014 CMO Insights Survey from Accenture Interactive do not feel their company is prepared for the digital shift. "It's a skill set gap. What is required to succeed in this world are skills that traditional marketers don't have, such as data science and analytics," says Cory Munchbach, analyst for Forrester's Customer Insights Team, noting that the results seem consistent with other studies she has seen.

While marketers agree that  their field is undergoing huge changes, they have different opinions about what marketing will look at the end of the next five years. The largest portion of respondents, 42 percent, agreed that analytics would become a core competence. More than one-third believe that digital will account for more than 75 percent of marketing budgets. A third also agreed that mobile would take up more than half of their marketing budget. Another third see the rise of agile, real-time campaigns. These campaigns roll out in real time, responding to the needs and intents of the customer, while taking into account the device and channel used for the interaction.

CRM will also deliver on its promise of connecting the customer experience, according to the marketers surveyed. Thirty-four percent agreed that sales, marketing, and customer service will be merged into a single function. "I think it's an extreme statement, but the sentiment behind it makes a lot of sense," Munchbach says. "Huge strides need to be made in order for that to happen," she elaborates, noting that a better course is alignment and data visibility across the three areas. Holger Mueller, vice presidnet and principal analyst at Constellation Research, also thinks that prediction is unlikely to come true. "I have yet to meet a marketing person who wants to run service," he says. "Good marketing people aren't good salespeople and vice versa."

High-performing companies are reaping the rewards of their digital investments. Eighty-six percent of high-performing companies use data and analytics to improve their marketing impact, compared to 65 percent of low performers. "Companies that are able to do this are differentiating themselves in a really critical way," Munchbach says, calling technologies such as real-time analytics "the next frontier." A similar gap occurred in the customer experience between leaders and laggards. Eighty percent of high performers provide a consistent experience across channels, while just 59 percent of low performers do.

While there has been much talk about collaboration with the CMO and CIO, it doesn't appear that CMOs are getting credit for their work in digital adoption. Only one percent of C-suite executives said CMOs were responsible for digital innovation in their organization. Most cited the CEO, CIO, or CTO instead. "One percent is too low, but the digitalization of the enterprise happens with every C-suite executive. Every C-suite executive has to contribute their part," Mueller says. "Moving to digital is about a larger business transformation where data is the foundation," adds Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research. "Most CMOs are aware that digital is going to happen; they just need sponsorship at the executive level."

Marketers in emerging markets may be better poised to take advantage of digital technologies that will transform their business. They were twice as likely to say they believed they could transform into a digital business compared to established markets. They were also more willing to disrupt the status quo. Seventy-one percent of marketers in emerging markets would be willing to initiate a companywide transformation designed to realign their focus to digital, while only 42 percent of those in mature markets would do the same thing. "It's a less intimidating thing to do in a less defined, less mature environment," Munchbach says.

For all the gains marketers believe their field will achieve, it's also clear they feel they have a long way to go. Despite their belief in the power of digital technology and marketing, just 21 percent of CMOs believe their company will be known as a digital business in five years. That's something Accenture wants to change. "Remember that the customer is not a transaction but an ongoing dialogue, a continuous engagement," the report's authors advise. Glen Hartman, managing director for digital transformation at Accenture Interactive and a report author, concludes," "It is a relationship that covers the whole spectrum of sales, service, retention and loyalty." The report advises leading initiatives that focus on the experience, not transactions. That means embracing digital by investing in real-time analytics, agile technologies, and the cloud, all in pursuit of a better customer experience.

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