IBM Global Survey: CMOs Need to Boost Influence in the Enterprise


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An article in last week’s Ad Age reports on the results of IBM’s first-ever global survey of CMOs. The IBM Institute for Business Values held face-to-face interviews for one hour or longer with more than 1,700 global CMOs, including 48 of the top 100 brands (as ranked by Interbrand’s latest annual list). Needless to say, this is some serious business research.

Here are some of the key findings from IBM’s global CMO survey:

  • 78% of CMOs expect more complexity over the next five years, but only 48 percent are prepared to deal with that increased complexity
  • 82 % of CMOs said they plan to increase their company’s use of social media
  • 80 % of CMOs plan to increase mobile apps
  • In answering the question of “what skills you personally need to succeed in the next 3-5 years,” only 25 percent of CMOs said they needed to acquire social media expertise, and 28 percent said tech savviness
  • Instead, a majority of CMOs said they needed leadership, customer insights, and creative thinking

I’d be very interested to hear your views on what new skills and expertise (if any) marketing leaders need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing business, technology, and media environments.

For my standpoint, the IBM survey findings track with my experience in working with marketing leaders and their corporations, whose primary strategic imperative today is revenue growth. That said, I was particularly struck by the survey’s major insight regarding the CMO’s relative lack of influence in the enterprise – the fact that CMOs are “only confident of significant influence in promotion.” That finding certainly does not bode well for marketers (and especially CMOs), who already are fighting for an influential seat at the corporate senior management table.

The fact is that marketing has for too long been characterized as a cost center rather than being what it truly is: an essential investment in growth. But, in countering this misperception, marketing executives frequently are their own worst enemies. As I have written here in the past, CMOs can start to change these perceptions and expand their influence by adopting the hard-nosed language of business – terminology like revenue performance, gross margin, and profit and cash flow.

Better yet, CMOs can and should take the lead by helping their organizations to bust out of the old silos and adopt a holistic, metrics-driven approach to managing the entire “revenue cycle.” We call this Revenue Performance Management (RPM). RPM is a strategy and business process that optimizes interactions with buyers across the revenue cycle and accelerates predictable revenue growth. Just as Six Sigma and Total Quality Management reinvented supply chain and manufacturing processes on a global scale, RPM is now reinventing the marketing and sales process.

When their work is viewed within this broader revenue prism, CMOs will assume a much more powerful position in the corporate hierarchy. For sure, the CEO and CFO are going to look at the marketing department’s efforts in an entirely different way.

CMOs are now using advanced revenue-building solutions to enable their enterprises to become more agile, more social, more connected, and more intelligent. In the process they are not just grabbing a seat at the senior management table, they are really “owning” that seat.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Phil Fernandez
Phil is a 26-year Silicon Valley veteran and has the scars (and a couple of successful IPOs) to prove it. Prior to Marketo, he was President and COO of Epiphany, a public enterprise software company known for its visionary marketing products.


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