CMOs Say Their Top Challenge Is Competition From Beyond Traditional Rivals

Study: CMOs Must Embrace 'Creative Disruption' to Manage Changing Markets

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CMOs' greatest business challenge today is industry convergence, in which competition increasingly comes from both inside and outside their traditional speheres of business, often fueled by digital innovation, according to a new study by IBM Corp.

Two-thirds of CMO respondents cited the trend as their No. 1 challenge in the study, "Redefining Markets: The CMO Point of View," which was based on face-to-face and online interviews with 723 global CMOs in 2015.

Kevin Bishop
Kevin Bishop

"CMOs must embrace this whole idea of creative disruption," said Kevin Bishop, VP-customer engagement solutions, IBM Commerce. "Companies have to reassess their strategic direction because the world around them is changing."

The study found that 60% of CMOs expect more competition to come from businesses outside of their industries, while only 23% of CMOs expect more competition to come from businesses within their industries.

In 2013, when the study was last conducted, 54% of CMOs expected more competition to come from outside their industries, and 33% expected more competition to come from inside their industries.

To address these market changes, "Understanding the language of the customer is important," Mr. Bishop said. "With a disruptive business model, you have to focus not just on what somebody is doing, but why they are doing it."

Nearly half (49%) of CMOs said the redistribution of consumer purchasing power will be a key driver of change over the next few years, and 48% said the "anywhere" workplace is driving business change.

"If you are a buyer -- whether you are a consumer or a business buyer -- you are going through your own decision-making process, and you want to do it where it is convenient to you," Mr. Bishop said.

"In today's world, we are blending physical and digital experiences, and CMOs need a much more systems-design, engineering-oriented approach to work."

CMOs are getting the expertise they need from a variety of sources: 79% are hiring new employees with the skills they require; 74% are partnering with other enterprises; and 74% are working with contractors, consulting firms or specialist agencies to provide the resources they need.

The study also found that CMOs feel they are better prepared to manage key marketing challenges now than they were in 2013.

Fifty-four percent of CMOs said they are better prepared to manage the increasing complexity of marketing roles and responsibilities today, compared with only 39% in 2013; 52% of CMOs said they are better prepared to handle challenges arising from social media today, compared with only 34% in 2013; and 36% said they are better prepared to handle challenges coming from the data explosion today, compared with only 18% in 2013.

"There is more education, information, and best-practices examples from conferences, forums and other sources for CMOs," Mr. Bishop said.

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