How CMOs in Torchbearer Organizations Are Succeeding in the Age of Disruption

CMOs sit at a crucial intersection in many organizations. Their role has evolved dramatically over the past few years – from being focused mainly on building brand awareness to one that serves as a key business leader for strategy, innovation and the bottom line.

Technological advances are disrupting the status quo and bringing massive turmoil in their wake. Industries are converging, and o loew competitors emerging, with breathtaking speed. Modern CMOs must embrace technology, new business models, data-driven insights and own the customer experience to be successful torchbearers of the organization.

IBM Institute for Business Value CMO Study – Redefining Markets

The IBM Institute of Business Value has just launched the second of their six role-based C-Suite studies, focusing on the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to help CMO’s tackle emerging hurdles for success. With unprecedented reach – 723 CMOs in 49 countries were interviewed – the study’s resounding theme was “Redefining Markets”.


The CMOs of the most successful enterprises – Torchbearer CMOs – are making fundamental changes in the way they work. The study shows this select group – only 6% of study participants – are focusing on:

  • Embracing “creative destruction” by driving innovations that deliver first-to-market advantages, deploying new go-to-market strategies, and exploring new, more collaborative business models.
  • Enriching the arc of engagement by forging ever more individualized, integrated customer experiences, experiences their customers play a large part in designing
  • Increasing their digital acumen by injecting data-driven insights into every marketing decision and forging new and necessary skills


cmograph1This idea of creative disruption rings true for me. In multiple conversations I’ve recently had with CMOs, their biggest worry was not website traffic, building great content, or lead generation; it was start-ups developing mobile applications that might disrupt their entire business model. And their primary question was “How do I go to market first with my own disruptive model?”

CMOs are beginning with the big picture: 67 percent intend to reassess their strategic direction, given the technological advances now disrupting the marketplace. However, there are significant differences in the strategies “Torchbearer” CMOs and “Market Follower” CMOs are pursuing. For a start, Torchbearer CMOs are more likely to review the way they go to market. Two-thirds of them are exploring new revenue models, compared with just half of all Market Follower CMOs.


“There won’t be CMOs in the future; there will be Chief Experience Officers who are responsible for the overall customer journey.”-Mohamed AlTajer, Head of Marketing, Branding & Corporate Communications, Commercial Bank International, PSC

Torchbearer CMOs are applying tenets of design thinking, which focuses on customers’ experiences – and their emotional experiences, in particular – rather than just the attributes required to make a well-engineered product.

In addition, torchbearer CMOs use customer feedback to spot trends:


Redefining Markets with an Eye toward the Future

Cognitive technological advancements will allow us to outthink challenges, competitors and limits, and unlock new opportunities for our organizations. In this new era of marketing, with competition emerging at a fiercer, faster rate, it does not take much to lose a client. For CMOs to remain essential in 2016 and beyond, it is imperative they focus on enriching customer experiences, embracing innovation, and informing every decision with data-driven insights.

To learn more about how Torchbearer CMO’s are leading the way, get the new CMO perspective out now and join the #CSuiteStudy conversation on Twitter.

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