Four Data Challenges for CMOs

Data has empowered several industries in the past couple of years, especially with the processing power companies like IBM are putting forth, delivering real-time updates and analysis.  Running models, making faster business decisions and getting a better handle on predictive analysis have all contributed to the evolution of how companies are operated, but if you think consumers are inundated with an overabundance of data across social networks and mobile phones, think of what web marketers face on the backend.

Many marketers look at the long tail of shared interactions, trying to uncover the behavioral points behind the content we all consume on a daily basis.  Recognizing patterns in how content is shared, to whom and where enables marketers to create more targeted campaigns that can actually become valuable to end users.  But with today’s deluge of data comes an onslaught of services trying to make sense of it all.  And with connected devices enabling more ways to communicate through space and time, the industry of big data is ripe with opportunity and obstacles.

According to IBM’s 2011 CMOStudy, “more than 1,700 chief marketing officers reveal that most chief marketing officers (CMOs) feel underprepared to manage the impact of key changes in the marketing arena.”  The key changes IBM refers to are the explosion of data, social media, channel and device choices and shifting demographics.  Here’s a quick run down:

Data Explosion

Every day, there are about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created, but not everything is being utilized.  CMOs are dumbfounded as to how best analyze these vast quantities of data to extract the meaningful insights, and use them effectively to improve products, services and the customer experience.

Companies like Clickfox are addressing specific areas of this data explosion to glean pertinent information about customers, so a business can improve their direct relationship with end users.  The data explosion is a promising problem to have, indicating opportunities around behavioral learning that don’t require direct participation from the end user.

Social Media/Platform

Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the notorious generators of massive amounts of data as users are free to become writers, broadcasters, publishers and critics without spending anything to do so and they have the entire world as their audience. Facebook has more than 750 million active users with average users posting 90 pieces of content a month.

Twitter users generate about 140 million tweets a day, and YouTube’s 490 million users upload more video content in a 60-day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years.

Mzinga is a company that knows all about the importance of social media when it comes to learning about end users’ sharing behavior.  As they flesh out their platform strategy to support an API and growing community of clients and developers looking for more ways to analyze data, Mzinga’s recent update incorporates more BI with its social analytics.

“With our technology we’re creating a means for marketers to use our technology in a productive way,” says Navdeep Alam, Mzinga’s Director of Data Architecture.  “It could be getting interesting behavior data, which has quite a bit more than content data–reading and viewing data is an important metric.  What did they view and for how long? Who authored it?  This data can be used to build a connection here, and offers a much more rich understanding of a user base.”

Channel and Device Choices

CMOs are making new marketing channels and new mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, their priority.  Mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016 due to its compounding annual growth rate of 39% from 2011 to 2016, while the tablet market is expected to reach nearly 70 million units worldwide by the end of this year and grow to 294 million units by 2015.

Shifting Demographics

The marketplace drastically changed with new global markets and the influx of younger generations with different patterns of information access and consumption.  For example, in India, the middle class population is expected to rise from 5% of the country’s population to more than 40% in the next two decades.  Marketers who used to focus on the affluent population now have to adapt to the increasing middle class population.  While in the US, marketing executives must respond to the aging baby boomer generation and the growing Hispanic population.

“The inflection point created by social media represents a permanent change in the nature of customer relationships,” said Carolyn Heller Baird, CRM research lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value and the global director of the study.

“Approximately 90 percent of all the real-time information being created today is unstructured data. CMOs who successfully harness this new source of insight will be in a strong position to increase revenues, reinvent their customer relationships and build new brand value.”

Aside from the above four challenges faced by CMOs, they should also have significant influence over all “Four Ps”: promotion, products, place and price.  But that is not always the case, as less than half of the CMOs surveyed have much sway over key parts of the pricing process, and less than half have much impact on new product development or channel selection.

In order to face these challenges, CMOs should find a way to improve their digital, technological and financial proficiency.  But many CMOs are hesitant to do so, as only 28 percent said technological competence, 25 percent said social media expertise and 16 percent said financial acumen when asked which attributes they will need to be personally successful over the next three to five years.