In the era of cloud computing and big data, chief marketing officers can either sink or swim depending on their ability to recognize the importance of the consumer information available to them and are able to capture and put it to use.


Depending on what research you believe, chief marketing officers are either more powerful than they’ve ever been — or they’re on their way out.

Early this year,a Gartner analyst predicted that CMOs will have bigger IT budget power than CIOs by 2017. Naturally, that analysis was quickly bandied about by CMOs.

But last week, in a blog post unambiguously titled “Marketing is Dead,” Bill Lee wrote that CMOs, as a species, are under fire.

Lee, president of the Lee Consulting Group which focuses on “customer engagement,” cited data from a 2011 Fournaise Marketing Group study suggesting that CEOs don’t see ROI on marketing efforts and are sick of being asked for marketing money with no discernible payoff. On top of that,  Lee posits that shoppers don’t pay attention to traditional marketing anymore. Ouch.

Cloud and big data reshape the marketing role

Underlying this seeming contradiction is that marketing is being redefined in the era of cloud-delivered, self-service applications and services and web-connected consumers. Several CIOs and CTOs have told me that they agree that CMOs gaining clout in their businesses — but the most successful CMOs are those who “get” that effective marketing is both broader and more focused than it’s been in the past.

“Broader” here means that the channels are no longer limited to radio, TV, print and online publications but social networks as well. CMOs who understand that the data flowing in via Twitter and Facebook is an important source of market intelligence — a big data feed that must be monitored and tapped.

Filtering the social networks

The explosion of social networking use means that “multi-channel” marketing is more multi-channel than ever. You don’t have to just track newspaper, TV and radio “thought leaders,” you need to watch for your company’s own thought leaders — your best customers and what they’re saying. That means narrower, less scattershot messaging — why hit up people who are not even remotely interested in your product or service? The idea is that your thought leaders will convince others that your offering is worth a look.

At the very least, you’d better know Gnip and DataSift.

Lee wrote:

Many firms spend lots of resources pursuing outside influencers who’ve gained following on the Web and through social media. A better approach is to find and cultivate customer influencers and give them something great to talk about.

There’s more insight here in a blog post by Evangelos Simoudis, senior managing director of Trident Capital. Simoudis wrote:

In order to become customer-centric and deliver a consistent message to each individual regardless of the communication channel, companies must first integrate all their customer- and prospect-related data.  Up to now, organizations would silo the various types of customer-related data.

So whether a given CMO has clout or is about to get pink-slipped depends a lot on her ability to understand the importance of this data trove and capture and make use of that big data resource.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user lznogood

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Aaron Amat

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Byron M. G. Sanford, Esq. Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Reblogged this on Briskin, Cross & Sanford, LLC and commented:
    This is a nice overview of the evolution of the role of marketing in social media era. Increasingly, Big Data will play a role in effective strategies and understanding the marketplace. This may not be new, but it is certainly an accelerating trend.

  2. Mosaic Technology Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Great article. As an IT Company that focuses a lot on cloud services, it’s interesting to hear how these services are going to change the traditional business environment. We hope that the cloud can bring positive new marketing roles/experiences to the business world.
    Mosaic Technology

  3. jenniferfinetti Thursday, August 16, 2012

    I saw the same HBR article and responded about the same topic on our blog too:) Check it out:


  4. Nice read, I read Lee’s article from a previous I blog post i read here.

    Lee definitely used a catchy title

Comments have been disabled for this post