They found that across the board, from the most successful
international powerhouses to the lowest performing local ventures,
many CMOs are struggling. The overwhelming majority of CMOs say
they feel unprepared when it comes to the four key issues of data
explosion (71%), dealing with social media (68%), the growth of
channel and device choices (64.5%), and shifting consumer
"The thing that really popped was how under-prepared they feel
for all these market changes," said Carolyn Heller Baird, global
director of the study. "But they are also recognizing that maybe
they're not doing as much as they could."
For instance, 82% said they plan to increase their company's use
of social media, 80% plan to increase mobile applications, and 72%
said they will increase tablet applications. However, those company
goals seem to contrast with personal ones. In answering the
question of what skills you personally need to succeed in the next
three to five years, only 25% said they needed to acquire
social-media expertise and 28% said tech savviness. Instead, a
majority of CMOs said they needed leadership, customer insights and
"We'd argue that those are table stakes. If they really want to
break new ground, they have to be in it," Ms. Heller Baird said.
"They're almost saying, 'I can hire it or I can build those
partnerships to get it.' ... That's all true and necessary, but we
do believe to be effective, you need to be personally engaged as
well. You don't have to be an expert, just be active."
That wasn't the only contrasting insight the CMOs' answers held.
For instance, while they admit consumer data and input are key to
their companies' futures, only 26% of CMOs track blogs, 42% track
third-party reviews and 48% track consumer reviews and see them as
tools in shaping their marketing strategies. Instead, they are
still relying on traditional sources such as market research (82%)
and competitive benchmarking (80%).
Of course, it could be the sheer depth and breadth of data that
has overwhelmed CMOs sticking with the status quo. As one consumer
products CMO in Singapore was quoted in the study: "The perfect
solution is to serve each consumer individually. The problem? There
are 7 billion of them."
Another big problem for CMOs is their lack of influence. Across
the four P's -- promotion, products, place and price -- CMOs are
only confident of significant influence in promotion, ranking their
influence much lower in other categories. IBM concluded that CMOs
should strive for more influence in those areas, especially since
many also believe that marketing's financial return on investment
will become a key marker of success in the next three to five
"There's a lot of pressure to be accountable for return on
investment. It's a bit of a Catch-22 ; there's so much on their
plates now, dealing with empowered customers and market changes,
and yet they're supposed to account for a marketing ROI with hard
numbers for marketing spending," Ms. Heller Baird said.