From Mad Men to math men: IBM study shows marketers drowning in data

For the first time in IBM’s C-suite surveys, chief marketing officers were included in the mix. And the results show many of them feel unprepared to deal with the volume and complexity of information available through social platforms. 

The results of the CMO study were presented at a breakfast before last week’s Marketing Today conference and there were some interesting results from the 54 CMOs interviewed in New Zealand that differed from the global findings.

For one, there’s a lack of marketing and IT alignment in New Zealand compared to global rates. And strangely, given the pressure on marketing budgets, the need to prove ROI, the desire for marketers to be taken seriously in the boardroom and the impact of technology on the marketing playing field, when asked what they needed to worry about to achieve personal success, Kiwi marketers didn’t feel they needed to worry about tech savviness, social media or finance skills (creative thinking topped the list for both chief executives and CMOs).

The global survey of 1734 chief marketing officers showed more than two-thirds saw a need to change the mix of skills within the marketing function to enhance analytic capabilities, invest in new tools and technologies and develop new strategies for managing big data.

With market and technology factors driving rapid change, the four areas they saw as game changers were social media, the data explosion, proliferation of channels and devices and shifting consumer demographics.

Few CMOs were exploiting the full power of the digital grapevine, with only a quarter tracking blogs, and less than half monitoring third-party reviews and consumer reviews.

While CMOs generally believed they were underprepared to take charge of the growing volume and variety of data, social networks can provide a rich source of information about customer sentiment with context that can help companies predict demand patterns.

Four out of five respondents anticipate high levels of complexity over the next five years but only half feel ready to take on the challenge.

Worryingly, despite the number of ways in which customers’ privacy can be compromised today, only 28 percent considered it necessary to take a second look at their privacy policies.

Given that privacy concerns are a huge issue for users, the study pointed out that CMOs might want to think about how they could inspire greater customer confidence as they consider the management of big data for their own purposes.

Most said proving the value of the marketing department to others was a hurdle and cited ROI as the primary measure of their effectiveness. But CMOs are struggling with providing hard numbers and plan to look outside of their companies for analytics.

Generally, while respondents said they had strong influence over promotional activities, they were lacking in the other three Ps of marketing—product, price and placement.

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