CMO's report universal lack of preparedness for key challenges

IBM released the findings of their Global CMO study yesterday and one of the primary conclusions is that CMOs feel unprepared to address key challenges. The most surprising thing is how consistent the feeling is across regions and vertical industries. CMOs generally face the same issues and report very similar levels of "unpreparedness" in the face of them. Top challenges include: data explosion, social media, growth of channel and device choices, and shifting consumer demographics, among others.

The findings are based on 1,734 structured in-person interviews with CMOs in large organizations conducted between February and June of 2011.Regional and vertical representation was reasonably well balanced. The sheer scale of the effort and the willingness of so many CMOs to participate indicate a role under siege.

In our research, IDC has learned that marketing is undergoing fundamental and painful transformations on several levels: new and expanding datasets, new channels and forms of communication, new tools and infrastructure requirements, new dynamic in customer acquisition, new pressure to prove business impact, new skills required for success. It is a multi-dimensional change that has many marketing leaders struggling to keep up.

The IBM study provides a strong basis for CMOs to educate their C-level peers on the challenges they face. However, by design, it does not offer practical models for addressing the issues. IDC has strong evidence that the customer data record is the fundamental design principle around which all customer facing activities and systems should be (re-)built. The customer record is increasingly the source for strategic insight, tactical planning, and performance metrics. Any marketer working in an organization without an enterprise customer creation process (with the requisite standards for customer records, data governance, and the infrastructure to support it) is set up for failure.

Unfortunately hardly any companies today manage customer creation as an enterprise process. We believe that this is the root of the universal "unpreparedness" revealed in the IBM Global CMO study. Having a practical model for implementing an enterprise customer creation process is the first step toward mastering all the key challenges CMOs and their marketing organizations are facing today.

ENTERPRISE customer creation is not something that only happens in marketing and/or sales. It encompasses every customer touch point over the lifetime of the relationship. It goes beyond the jurisdiction of any departmental leader and therefore must have C-level (CEO) endorsement and active support. It is the demand side equivalent of supply chain automation and we all know how WalMart conquered the world by mastering that side of the economic coin. On the demand side, the challenge is finding and forming relationships with prospective customers much earlier using channels and resources not traditionally thought of as marketing (or sales.) In addition the relationship needs to be tracked consistently from marketing to sales to finance, provisioning/fulfillment, support, etc - i.e. the customer data record must be uniformly defined and managed across departments. All the information associated with a customer record must be available to everyone involved in the process. It is a massive undertaking on par with the supply chain automation effort, but the reward is being months ahead of your competitors in terms of customer contact and relationship building – a key competitive advantage that will be very hard to displace.

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