CMOs unprepared to deal with social media

This is one of the four key issues that IBM’s Institute for Business Values found during more than 1700 face-to-face interviews with global CMOs. It was IBM’s first-ever CMO survey conducted as part of its ongoing C-suite research series.

78% is expecting more complexity the coming next five years, but only 48% are prepared to deal with it. The four key issues are:

  • Data explosion (71%),
  • Dealing with social media (68%),
  • The growth of channel and device choices (64.5%) and
  • Shifting consumer demographics (64.5%).



One of the contrasting insights is that CMO’s admit consumer data and input are key to their companies’ futures, but only a small percentage is actually tracking social media. They are still relying on traditional sources such as market research (82%) and competitive benchmarking (80%).

Abundancy of touch points and data

One other key insight has to do with the amount of touch points and data explosion. These go hand in hand.
When looking at the Agile Commerce concept by Forrester Research, we see that the interrelatedness of means at each touch point are increasing:

Think of the advent of tablets, connected TVs and what more.
A research by Forbes showed that the consistent brand experience across all touch points is the biggest marketing challenge for chief and senior executives. Here as well, a contradicting outcome is encountered. Namely the fact that just 30% is taking into account mobile behavior and just 34% is doing that for social media behavior.


The IBM survey reports the following with regard to the skill set needed to succeed:
In answering the question of what skills you personally need to succeed in the next three to five years, only 25% said they needed to acquire social-media expertise and 28% said tech savviness. Instead, a majority of CMOs said they needed leadership, customer insights and creative thinking.

“We’d argue that those are table stakes. If they really want to break new ground, they have to be in it,” Ms. Heller Baird said. “They’re almost saying, ‘I can hire it or I can build those partnerships to get it.’ … That’s all true and necessary, but we do believe to be effective, you need to be personally engaged as well. You don’t have to be an expert, just be active.”

Chief Digital Officer

Would the consideration to establishing a “Chief Digital Officer” (“CDO”) office or equivalent be the solution to create the role that strategically approaches digital and its opportunities for its supply- and value chains?