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Big Data Poses Major Challenge to CMO Role: IBM Study

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Technology is one of the most powerful external forces affecting the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) today, and big data will be an especially significant challenge to marketing organizations over the next few years, according to a report released Monday by IBM.

In its first-ever Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, part of its C-Suite Study Series, IBM gathered insight from more than 1,700 CMOs from 64 countries to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face. Most CMOs acknowledge the growing complexity of technology over the next few years, though not all feel ready to handle it.

Growing Complexity

Nearly 80 percent of the CMOs surveyed through the study believe the level of complexity will be high or very high over the next five years. Only 48 percent reported to feel prepared to cope with it.

“[CMOs] have to manage more data, understand and engage with more demanding customers, and ensure their employees consistently exemplify the organization’s values,” according to the study.

CMO Role is Shifting; Relationship with CIO Critical to Success

The role of CMOs, much like the role of the CFO a decade ago, is shifting from “guardian of the purse strings to strategic business adviser,” according to IBM, and 63 percent of CEOs involve the CMO in formulating the organization’s overall business strategy, second to the CFO (72 percent).

The study also found that when a CMO had a close working relationship with the CIO, the enterprise is more likely to perform better overall.

Recently, in an interview with the WHIR on Rackspace’s new Digital Practice – a division  focused on web content management, ecommerce and mobile applications – Rackspace senior manager of digital channel sales Kyle Metcalf noted the changing role of CMOs at it relates to IT decision-making.

“One of the large ways that Rackspace gets to this audience, which is a new audience for us, is through the CMO, which is through relationships and partnerships with digital agencies and integrators,” Metcalf said. “What we’re is seeing in the marketplace and what we’ve seen for a while is that the CMO is really taking on a lot of IT responsibilities. Gartner stated that in the next few years the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.”

Big Data Poses Significant CMO Challenge

The “volume, velocity and variety of data” will require new strategies for managing big data. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe they will need to invest in new tools and technologies to make the most of big data. Cost and lack of certainty about ROI are the biggest reasons CMOs are not adopting new technologies, according to the report.

Despite the pervasiveness of big data in marketing, only 28 percent of respondents consider it necessary to change their privacy policies.

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