B2B Articles - March 09, 2016

New Digital Demands on CMOs

As a CMO, you may be anxious about your industry’s changing landscape and the rapid pace of technological advances. The recent CMO-specific follow-up to IBM’s C-suite study suggests you’re not alone.

“We’ll have to think differently. We can’t be so monolithic; we need to expand our perspective,” a CMO of a British retailer remarked in the study released Feb. 18.

Plus factor: CxOs see technology primarily as a means of adding value rather than subtracting costs

The answer is in embracing “creative destruction,” enriching the arc of engagement with customers and making enterprises more digitally literate; IBM concluded from its discussions 723 CMOs among its interviews of 5,247 business leaders from 21 industries in more than 70 countries.

IoT stats - emerging trends

Embrace Creative Destruction

A main attribute of the industry-leading “Torchbearer CMOs” is that they actively review market strategies — including exploring recurring revenue licensing and subscription models — according to the CMO-specific study. These same CMOs were also more likely to look at adjacent markets to extend reach and identify collaborative business models.

At the same time, CMOs noted the pressure they feel to reach the market first. Yet the challenge of doing so was outweighed by the benefits of generating buzz and being able to charge premium prices.

Enriching Arc of Engagement

Focusing on the CMO experience specifically, IBM found that CMOs need to be hyper-connected with every area of customer interaction with the business. Two-thirds of the CMO respondents saw developing deeper, richer customer experiences as the top marketing priority.

“Marketing is no longer about winning creative awards; it’s about one-to-one communication,” the CMO of a U.S. telecom company told IBM.

Focusing on delivering more holistic, multi-faceted customer experiences, IBM’s Torchbearer CMOs were more likely to:

  • Focus on customer journey mapping
  • Create physical and digital experiential engagements
  • Use customer feedback to explore new trends
  • Apply customer input to co-create new offerings

This CMO initiative to engage more is backed by findings in the overall C-suite study suggesting that “most CxOs anticipate changing how their organizations engage with customers. They are especially interested in creating more digital, individualized experiences.”

Digital engagement - CMO

Enhancing Digital Acumen

The CMO study also called for increased reliance on analytics, noting that “creating captivating experiences shaped by customer input also requires considerable digital acumen.”

IBM’s Torchbearer CMOs were ahead of the curve in coming to grips with the sheer volume of data to be processed. They were also more confident in using available tools to obtain deeper market insights and engage with ever more segmented audiences.

Growing digital expertise, especially in innovations that impact and influence differentiated customer experiences, is paramount.

For instance, in the two IBM studies, CxOs and CMOs both identified cloud computing, mobile solutions, and the Internet of Things (IoT) as being particularly important in the next three to five years. The IoT in particular, could transform enterprise by providing a scope to convert products into services and the ability to wrap-around services and personalize offerings.

To meet the digital need, new partnerships are essential for the effective CMO. IBM noted 79% of CMO respondents were planning to hire new employees with the required digital skills, while 74% planned to partner with other enterprises to tap their digital expertise.


An eBook focusing on the top digital trends that drive success for CMOs.



  1. IBM report: Redefining Markets: Insights from the Global C-suite Study
  2. Redefining Markets: Insights from the Global C-suite Study — The CMO perspective

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