Accenture Interactive—a leading provider of management consulting, technology, and outsourcing services—recently released an insightful new report on the digital transformation of corporate marketing across various industries. Entitled “CMOs: Time for Digital Transformation or Risk Being Left on the Sidelines,” the new report surveyed the world’s marketing leaders and examined their attitudes toward digital channels.
The study noted that while digital channels were nothing new for chief marketing officers (CMOs)—with many embracing digital opportunities and refining their game plans to ensure digital success—other CMOs were struggling to implement enterprise digital transformation in their companies. According to the study’s overview, “Savvy marketing leaders understand that digital, analytics, and mobile are disrupting the marketplace—while changing their roles significantly.”
Marketing Leadership Should Lead Digital Transformation
“Insights reveal that the fundamental challenge is not about taking advantage of digital channels—it’s about whether or not marketing leadership can take the reins of the digital transformation,” the overview further noted. The survey was conducted between November 2013 to January 2014, and results were based on responses from 581 key marketing decision markers based in 11 countries and representing 10 industries.
The industries surveyed include the automotive, banking, consumer goods, electronics, insurance, and travel and tourism industries. As for the companies these senior marketing executives headed, 9% pulled in at least $500 million in annual revenue, and 91% pulled in at least $1 billion in annual revenue.
“As marketing executives are increasingly embracing digital, they can be catalysts to help their company take advantage of the wider digital opportunity and protect against broader digital threats,” stated Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive. “Marketing executives are well positioned to assume this role because the opportunities, as well as the potential and real threats, are all about the customer, the brand, the interface with the customer, and how the customer is empowered. To be part of their enterprise’s digital transformation, marketing executives should extend their vision of marketing beyond traditional boundaries.”
Key Statistical Takeaways
78% of respondents to Accenture Interactive’s research believe that marketing will undergo fundamental changes over the next 5 years—with analytics, digital, and mobile being the key drivers.
Other key statistics include: 42% of respondents believe that analytics skills will be a core competence of marketing over the next 5 years; 37% of respondents believe that digital budgets will account for over 75% of marketing budgets over the next 5 years; and 35% of respondents believe that mobile will account for 50% of their marketing budgets over the next 5 years.
In spite of these statistics, many CMOs do not seem to be fully engaged. Astonishingly, only 21% of CMOs believe that their companies will be known as digital businesses in 5 years. Companies in emerging nations appear to be racing ahead of those in developed nations in terms of adapting and innovating; only 18% of CMOs in developed countries believe that their businesses will be known as digital businesses, whereas 32% of senior marketing leaders in developing nations believe that they will be known as digital businesses.
CMOs in developing nations were also more likely to initiate or complete companywide transformations to become more digitally-focused (71% for developing nations as opposed to 42% for developed nations).
While many marketers are not yet fully committed to thinking of their companies as digital businesses, they have adopted numerous digital channels and are investing in, or are planning to invest in, more digital channels (email, online display advertising, search engine, social media, mobile, etc) to achieve more targeted results.
While digital channels appear to be leading the way for most marketers, other more traditional marketing methods—like telemarketing—have decreased in effectiveness. Telemarketing has dropped in effectiveness from 58% in 2012 to 48% in 2014. As a consequence, telemarketing’s importance dropped from 74% to 51% within the same period. In contrast, low-cost email has risen as an effective marketing channel. Low-cost email’s importance improved from 58% in 2012 to 66% in 2014, and its effectiveness increased from 44% to 58% within the same period.
On the other hand, a generational divide appears to be opening up when it comes to mobile adoption. Marketing executives who grew up with digital devices (those under 35) gave significantly more weight to mobile (38%), while older colleagues gave less weight to mobile (18%). 7 out of 10 marketers aged 50 and younger believe that mobile is an important channel for reaching leads and customers, whereas fewer than 5 out of 10 marketing executives aged 51 and older regarded mobile the same way.
High-Growth Companies Harness Digital & Analytics Channels
The verdict is in: high-growth companies invariably harness digital and analytics channels. 86% of high-growth companies use data and analytics to improve marketing impact; 84% of high-growth companies acknowledge the strategic importance of digital channels; and 80% of high-growth companies focus on providing a consistent customer experience across all channels.
As digital channels continue to grow in sophistication and importance, chief digital officers (CDOs) will gain increasing importance in organizations, as they will drive digital transformation.
The prize isn’t mastery of digital channels; it is about commanding opportunities that engage customers and drive superior business outcomes. Customers are actively seeking relevant and seamless experiences—from brand promise through brand delivery. To satisfy their expectations, CMOs need to embrace full omni-channel customer experiences; integrate various channels with real-time analytics and then act on the insights; invest in cloud-based services and agile technologies; re-orient their marketing operating models and integrate new talents into their marketing teams to harness digital innovation; and finally, transform the marketing role as a digital perspective changes the enterprise.
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