SAN FRANCISCO—The idea of a data-empowered chief marketing officer (CMO) is taking a front-and-center position at this year’s Dreamforce conference.
In recent quarters, the idea of a CMO supplanting the CIO as a company’s primary user of data analytics has gained increasing ground. That’s partially due to the rise of marketing-automation tools such as Hubspot, and it also reflects the increasingly user-friendly nature of a lot of business-intelligence software hitting the market. In January, research firm Gartner predicted that CMOs could have a higher IT budget than CTOs by 2017, although many Salesforce executives at Dreamforce seem to believe that date will come much earlier.
Salesforce has a lot riding on the tech-empowered CMO trend, considering its new Marketing Cloud—which incorporates assets from the company’s acquisitions of Buddy Media and Radian6—is explicitly meant to put those data tools in the hands of CMOs.
“The CMOs are becoming the number-two officers in the company right behind the CEO, and they’re flying these very expensive jet fighters and they need a cockpit,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told a gathering of analysts and media after the conference’s first day keynotes. “We bought a billion dollars of companies over the past 12 months and we’re going to give it a good go.”
That being said, not all CMOs feel ready for this data-intensive role: a full 71 percent of them told a recent IBM study that they felt unprepared to handle the flood of data entering their organizations—results mirrored by a 2011 CMO Council study, which found CMOs overwhelmed by the growing complexity and amount of data.
That being said, CMOs told survey-takers from SAS that data and analytics were a top priority in coming years, with more than 55 percent of CMOs focused on those efforts. “This is about having a customer-centric approach to CRM, not just storing customer data in a data warehouse,” read the SAS blog post on the results. “It is about analyzing that data, transforming it into relevant knowledge to improve offerings and services that differentiate a company from competitors.”
As a result of that, companies could see an influx of marketing technologists over the next few years. By pushing forth data tools for CMOs, companies such as Salesforce are already betting big on that trend.