CMO’s report universal lack of preparedness for key challenges

IBM released the findings of their Global CMO study yesterday and one of the primary conclusions is that CMOs feel unprepared to address key challenges. The most surprising thing is how consistent the feeling is across regions and vertical industries. CMOs generally face the same issues and report very similar levels of “unpreparedness” in the face of them. Top challenges include: data explosion, social media, growth of channel and device choices, and shifting consumer demographics, among others.
The findings are based on 1,734 structured in-person interviews with CMOs in large organizations conducted between February and June of 2011.Regional and vertical representation was reasonably well balanced. The sheer scale of the effort and the willingness of so many CMOs to participate indicate a role under siege.
In our research, IDC has learned that marketing is undergoing fundamental and painful transformations on several levels: new and expanding datasets, new channels and forms of communication, new tools and infrastructure requirements, new dynamic in customer acquisition, new pressure to prove business impact, new skills required for success. It is a multi-dimensional change that has many marketing leaders struggling to keep up.
The IBM study provides a strong basis for CMOs to educate their C-level peers on the challenges they face. However, by design, it does not offer practical models for addressing the issues. IDC has strong evidence that the customer data record is the fundamental design principle around which all customer facing activities and systems should be (re-)built. The customer record is increasingly the source for strategic insight, tactical planning, and performance metrics. Any marketer working in an organization without an enterprise customer creation process (with the requisite standards for customer records, data governance, and the infrastructure to support it) is set up for failure.
Unfortunately hardly any companies today manage customer creation as an enterprise process. We believe that this is the root of the universal “unpreparedness” revealed in the IBM Global CMO study. Having a practical model for implementing an enterprise customer creation process is the first step toward mastering all the key challenges CMOs and their marketing organizations are facing today.
ENTERPRISE customer creation is not something that only happens in marketing and/or sales. It encompasses every customer touch point over the lifetime of the relationship. It goes beyond the jurisdiction of any departmental leader and therefore must have C-level (CEO) endorsement and active support. It is the demand side equivalent of supply chain automation and we all know how WalMart conquered the world by mastering that side of the economic coin. On the demand side, the challenge is finding and forming relationships with prospective customers much earlier using channels and resources not traditionally thought of as marketing (or sales.) In addition the relationship needs to be tracked consistently from marketing to sales to finance, provisioning/fulfillment, support, etc – i.e. the customer data record must be uniformly defined and managed across departments. All the information associated with a customer record must be available to everyone involved in the process. It is a massive undertaking on par with the supply chain automation effort, but the reward is being months ahead of your competitors in terms of customer contact and relationship building – a key competitive advantage that will be very hard to displace.

Spark by Marketo

Marketo announced a new sub-brand called Spark targeted at the SMB market. It’s a testament to how successfully Marketo has transitioned from SMB to the enterprise space that it has to go back and offer a new brand for what used to be its primary market. The demand for marketing automation at large enterprises is driving rapid growth for all marketing automation companies, and Marketo is no exception. So much so that smaller prospects are starting to perceive the company and its target market as having outgrown them. Not so.
SMB is intrinsic to Marketo’s heritage and the company has no intention of walking away. The Spark offering is more than just a “lite” version of its flagship product. The idea behind Spark is that it is a bundle of software and services to help small companies quickly adopt and become expert in the use of modern marketing automation technology. Marketo is dedicating expert staff to offer training, support, and mentoring for its Spark customers. The importance of this cannot be overstated as marketing automation requires a higher level of sophistication, analytical ability, and business process expertise than most small companies have in their marketing departments.
The challenge for Marketo will be managing Spark as a sustainable business model. Typically the enterprise segment is much more profitable for software companies (SaaS or not). Large companies have more money, bigger projects, and greater potential for expansion into other business units. However, Marketo knows the SMB business well and has a subscription model revenue stream that’s ramping up to the point where it can afford to support the launch of a down market offering until it starts to pay for itself. It is the rare company that can serve both segments well, but Marketo has clearly separated the two teams internally which IDC believes is absolutely critical for success.