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CMOs: Time for digital transformation or risk being left on the sidelines

Survey reveals an imperative for CMOs to lead the way on digital opportunities that delight customers and deliver business outcomes


Digital is nothing new for chief marketing officers (CMOs). Many are embracing it and refining their game plans for digital success. Savvy marketing leaders understand that digital, analytics and mobile are disrupting the marketplace—while changing their roles significantly.,/p>

What does it all mean for the future? Where are the greatest digital opportunities for today’s CMO?

The Accenture Interactive 2014 CMO Insights survey explores what the world’s marketing leaders are thinking about digital. 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.

Discover why CMOs are ideally positioned to lead digital transformation—and how to get started.


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CMOs are ideally positioned to do this because digital threats and opportunities are intertwined in areas they have long focused on—the brand, customers, customer interfaces and customer empowerment. Getting started on digital transformation—which is key for every business to survive—means that CMOs must challenge traditional notions of the scope of marketing to create a new future in the digital age.


The 2014 CMO Insights survey is the fourth in a series of studies sponsored by Accenture Interactive and is aimed at understanding the opinions, challenges and points of view of senior marketing leaders around the world.

Conducted from November 2013 to January 2014, the survey includes responses from nearly 600 senior marketing executives from 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States) and 10 industries (Automotive, Banking, Consumer Goods, Electronics, Insurance, Life Sciences, Media, Retail, Telecommunications, and Travel and Tourism).


The Accenture Interactive survey provides insights into CMO perspectives on digital. How is digital changing marketing’s roles and responsibilities? How do CMOs assess their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the digital agenda? Where do they see the biggest opportunities and threats?

Key findings include the following:

CMOs divided by age on mobility. Seven out of 10 marketing executives under age 50 believe mobile is an important channel for reaching customers and prospects, compared to fewer than five out of 10 who are 51 or older.

CMOs recognize that digital is changing everything. Fully three-quarters (78 percent) of marketers surveyed believe that marketing will undergo fundamental change over the next five years.

CMOs are not fully engaged in the digital journey. Only 21 percent of CMOs believe that their company will be known as a digital business in five years.

CMOs have not mastered the customer experience. Some 77 percent of marketers say it is essential or very important to deliver an effective customer experience, but only 62 percent think they're doing a good job.

CMOs face barriers to digital integration. CMOs cite a lack of critical technology or tools as the chief barrier to digital integration.

CMOs face a talent conundrum. Satisfaction with key marketing capabilities has declined in precisely those areas where internal resourcing has increased.


Download the report for more insights from the survey results. this opens a new window.Download the report for more insights from the survey results. [PDF, 3.02 MB]


The report suggests five ways that CMOs can go beyond optimizing digital marketing channels and take full advantage of ever-expanding digital opportunities. Here is the CMO digital transformation checklist:

  1. Marketing evolution. Lead and transform the marketing role as a digital perspective transforms the enterprise.

  2. Customer experience orientation. Embrace the full omni-channel customer experience—reverse engineer marketing initiatives around desired outcomes, empathize with customers and engage them in dialogues and relationship building.

  3. Analytics insight. Integrate channels with real-time analytics and then apply hard-earned insights continuously to enhance multi-channel experiences.

  4. Technology innovation. Invest in agile technologies and cloud-based services—“test, learn and earn” is the new maxim.

  5. Operating model transformation. Reorient the marketing operating model and integrate new talent (analytics, mobile and digital) to harness digital innovation.

Focusing on these areas can help CMOs enable a customer-focused digital transformation, which is essential to thrive.

Interact with the findings from the Accenture Interactive 2014 CMO Insights Survey.