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Press Release -- June 6th, 2014
Source: Verizon

The New Chief Marketing Officer: Adapt and Evolve – Part 3 of 3

by Ashley Tollitt
(Guest Contributor)

In the second part of this series we focused on the ways CMOs can work with technology experts to efficiently combine efforts into a powerful transformational force. Now I’ll outline why specific types of agility are the keys to success for CMOs.

The challenge for CMOs lies in adapting to changing situations dynamically and efficiently. In view of evolving consumers’ behaviors, landscapes and savvier consumers, creating meaning from data will increasingly support core decision-making and innovation. However, data alone is not enough. CMOs must adapt and learn new skills to fully leverage the benefits that Big Data offers.

In a 2013 survey by IDC and Computerworld, 33 percent of respondents noted the “lack of sufficiently skilled big data and analytics IT staff” as one of their big data challenges. The challenge also extends into lines of business and marketing, with 45 percent of respondents citing “lack of sufficient number of staff with appropriate analytics skills” as one of their big data challenges.i

According to a Korn/Ferry study, learning agility is central to success. In fact, 61 percent of executives agree that learning agility is the most important attribute to consider when promoting senior marketing leaders.ii Two facets in particular stand out as differentiators, enabling CMOs to take advantage of new technologies and data, capture new markets, and lead enterprise-wide transformation efforts: change-agility and mental-agility.

Business leaders with change agility are willing to step out of their comfort zone, experiment, and implement something different. They are comfortable with change generally, and managing change efforts. When resistance surfaces, they deal with it effectively. The value of this skill to a CMO is in managing through ambiguity; experimentation and calculated risk-taking are central to continuous innovation.

Business leaders with mental agility have the ability to examine problems from all angles to come up with a solution. Those who are mentally agile are able to analyze a situation, recognize what is new or different compared with previous experiences, and alter the approach. The value of this skill to a CMO is the ability to sift through complexity to uncover key insights.

So what does learning agility have to do with big data? The more data we get, the more simplicity and clarity of mind required from business leaders. More focus is then required on the most effective levers to drive change.

The success of future CMOs will be largely determined by his/her ability to deliver measurable value. The good news is CMOs can now turn to analytics to better showcase return on investments and business outcomes. You understand the benefits technology offers. Now your challenge is to get ahead of the curve by collaborating with your CIO and building your learning agility.
Editor’s Note: You can review the previous two installments of this series using the links below.

The New Chief Marketing Officer – Part 1 of 3

The New Chief Marketing Officer: Focus – Part 2 of 3
i “$16.1 Billion Big Data Market: 2014 Predictions From IDC And IIA”,, December 12, 2013

ii “The Agile CMO”, Korn/Ferry, September 2013

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