B.I. and the CMO’s Evolving Role

A recent survey found that the majority of companies already employ marketing technologists.

As Big Data provides companies with access to more customer information than ever before, the roles of employees in marketing, service, and other customer-centric areas must evolve to incorporate it. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) find themselves in the challenging position of negotiating both social media and customer data.

As marketing-automation tools like Hubspot and Aprimo become more commonplace, the CMO job relies on technology more than ever before. Indeed, a January prediction from Gartner suggested that CMOs will have an even higher IT budget than CTOs by the year 2017.

“The role of the traditional CMO is evolving to be more dependent on technology to drive results,” said Cory Treffiletti, Senior Vice President of Marketing at big-data firm Blue Kai. “As the abundance of data generated across marketing channels pose new opportunities and challenges, there is increasing pressure for CMO’s to take a data-driven approach to better understand their customers and make smarter decisions to drive the most ROI.”

Despite this upswing in tech tools, surveys show that most CMOs still feel ill-equipped to utilize B.I. in meaningful ways. A recent IBM study, for instance, found that 71 percent of CMOs feel unprepared to handle properly the vast and growing amounts of data that they are facing. A 2011 CMO Council study similarly reported that the majority of CMOs feel “overwhelmed” by burgeoning amounts of data.

While the CMO’s job used to rely on creative output and client interaction, it has shifted to a technology-centered role. “The success of my role is far more about analytics and technology than it is about hanging out with my ad agency, coming up with great creative campaigns,” the CMO for an airline told IBM.

Business intelligence enables CMOs to develop more refined customer profiles by analyzing every interaction—from individual product sales to tweets—as a comprehensive network of actions. The result is a highly advanced understanding of consumer behavior that enables companies to encourage repeat sales and new customers.

Analytics tools also allow companies to track industry-wide trends and changes. With the right data sets and B.I. tools, a CMO can quickly spot a downward trend in a market and react before it negatively influences the company.

Recognizing these advantages of B.I., CMOs are making data and analytics a key focus. In a new study, analytics firm SAS found Big Data to be a top priority for most marketing departments in the coming years, with over 55 percent of participating CMOs reporting a heightened emphasis on analytics.

Camille Baumann, regional director of marketing for SAS, said that the advantages of Big Data are forcing CMOs to “finally pay attention to analytics.” As a result, marketing automation software is being added to the CMO’s more traditional arsenal of tools such as database marketing.

“Analytics has been around for decades,” Baumann wrote in a blog post, “mainly in the domain of business analysts, programmers, and researchers—but now, it has become a top priority of the C-suite agenda.”

These shifting priorities have lead to the emergence of a new executive role: the chief technology-marketing officer. Rather than focus on soft metrics and creative output, the CMTO employs analytical technologies to drive sales and customer engagement.

“The new role of a CMTO, whether in name or in responsibility, is to tap into technology like data activation systems to help them manage their data deluge and make sense of audience intelligence across all their marketing channels,” Cory Treffiletti said. “They are also looking for ways to activate that intelligence to effectively message to their best audiences across any screen or device.”

According to an upcoming Gartner poll, 72 percent of companies already have marketing technologists among their ranks, and the majority of the remaining businesses intend to bring one on within the next two years.

In addition to influencing IT purchases, CMTOs are charged with using automation tools to measure market performance, employing Big Data to deliver more significant display advertising, as well as training staff in new marketing technologies. CMTOs also assist companies in transitioning to new mobile platforms and utilizing social media strategies for market branding.

The benefits of adding business intelligence to a marketing strategy means that companies utilizing B.I. will have an edge on those that still rely on traditional marketing methods. Those with CMTOs will likely be most equipped for handling analytics technologies as they continue to evolve.

How can your company’s CMO or CMTO best utilize business intelligence to track and react to market trends?


Image: Gartner via Chief Marketing Technologist