over 7 years ago by Next Generation

The Evolution of the Chief Marketing Officer

The Evolution Of The Cmo


The evolution of new technologies, tools and market dynamics are ever changing the job specification of the Chief Marketing Officer, the rising importance of data in particular has thrown this remit into question. According to the IBM Chief Marketing Officer insights from the IBM C-suite Study, enterprises that have a deep knowledge of their customers outperform their competition by 60%. While the good news from Spencer Stuart’s Marketing Officer Practice indicates that the average CMO tenure has increased to four years, double what it was ten years ago, resulting in a significant gap between knowing what needs to be done and action.

Only 43% of CMOs interviewed effectively use data analytics to generate customer insights and have the expertise and resources to handle the explosion in social media with a fully integrated digital enterprise in place.

CEOs of today want a creative, flexible and collaborative environment to drive innovation. Boston Consulting Group interviewed 1,600 executives on their biggest obstacles to generating a return on innovation investments the study identified,

  • Lack of collaboration within the company
  • Risk-averse cultures
  • Ineffective marketing and communications
  • Not enough customer insight


The CMO plays a major role in creating a climate of innovation and using internal data to come up with new ways to market to customer segments requires having an effective and trusting partnership with internal IT and Data Science teams. CMOs must recognise the considerable work required to have employees embrace the culture of learning and change to understand the possibilities represented in emerging technologies and the insights they can provide to enable growth.

Every CMO must explore two areas:

  • How they can add value to the clients they serve.
  • How can they add value internally to help stimulate the culture.

Digital transformation serves as the central point in the story of the CMO’s evolution. The estimated current total marketing technology spend at $1.2 billion, the core of marketing is to understand consumers and their behaviours that drive their decisions – this is core to every business and where Data Science has now evolved.

Management of marketing data has become a considerable challenge for most organisations that now rely on business intelligence and the need for someone to manage the flow, integration and usage of marketing data is critical. This role is a hybrid of analytics/BI and Marketing skill set, more than ever Data Scientists are being recruited to help digital marketing firms make sense of what the internet is telling them.

Recent statistics estimated that close to 1.7m bytes of information is generated every second per human on the planet, Siliconrepublic.com’s editor John Kennedy last year described how Ireland is on the brink of a ‘Data Science Tsunami’. All marketers can benefit from learning the basics of data science and also learn from the data scientists they work alongside.

The aim of any organisation is to drive business goals by attempting to predict customer futures with your business. When you know what is most likely to occur, you’re able to anticipate how your company will perform. Predictive analytics allows CMO’s to gain an understanding of performance at an aggregate level, as well as what drives business goals. Predictive analytics allow you to identify what aspects of your business are most controllable, what actionable leverage you own, and how you can effectively influence.


Not everyone is a Data Scientist and you don’t have to be but that does not mean the CMO and their team cannot acquire the full potential of big data and data-driven marketing initiatives. Big Data and Marketing were made for each other! Chief marketers are expected to play a leadership role in data analytics, customization, personalization, and optimization, and to drive highly targeted, sophisticated, complex, digital-led campaigns and activities.

The future CMO needs to communicate with senior leadership and the board. They also need become a strategic partner with the CEO based upon their deep knowledge of  customers through data mining that can allow  the organisation to embrace change faster and bring products and services to the market that are reflective of what the customer wants.  Marketing is no longer a cost centre but rather communications centre. Having the ability  to create and execute a marketing vision that is continuously evolving based on new customer insights, and thus ensuring that the best and brightest people internally are harnessed to create that vision, is now the most important part of the CMO role.

The marketing function as we know it is moving away from its traditional role and now has its own specific revenue targets that directly supports revenue growth; there is a clear shift toward marketing having an overt and explicit growth agenda.  In order to stay relevant, the Chief Marketing Officer needs to develop a broad, diverse set of skills. CMOs have to move beyond the chief ‘marketer’ in their title, and step up their influence in the C-suite to become a full corporate officer while understanding the business influence they have. CMOs that have evolved in this way are being tapped for CEO in some leading organisations.


Considering a change in your career?

Why don’t you check out the marketing roles we have available for here.