A Small Crisis

corps To extend our recent theme of the need for robot brains, it seems the corporate marketing race has recently been outpacing its top management’s skill set. Hence, at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, they are launching a new “CMO Program,” with “CMO” being Chief Marketing Officer.

The core problem, it seems, is that the mountains of surveillance data being gathered from the internet and toothbrushes are growing faster than our Dear Leaders’ capacities to turn it into shareholders returns.

Here is the explanation from Gregory Carpenter “the James Farley/Booz Allen Hamilton Professor of Marketing Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management and Faculty Director of the Kellogg Markets and Customers Initiative (KMCI), and Academic Director of the [new] Kellogg CMO program”:

[M]any executives have long viewed marketing as more art than science….Companies across industries are struggling to extract value from rapidly evolving technologies such as data analytics and social media, and CMOs will increasingly drive these efforts….[which] have created more dynamic and potentially more profitable opportunities for companies that can infuse marketing into every facet of the enterprise.

While tactics will come and go, the more significant challenge will be organizational. Companies will have to make a massive investment to find, attract, integrate, retain and develop key talent such as data scientists and social media specialists. To be effective, CMOs will also have to gain a better understanding of analytics, social media monitoring and the organizational challenges they pose.

These objectives will require CMOs to expand beyond their traditional responsibilities. Yet many marketing executives lack the range of skills and knowledge to excel in this changing environment. One of the primary obstacles for potential CMOs is that so much of the knowledge they must acquire to be successful lies beyond their formal marketing organization. With little time to learn on the job, the most successful candidates will focus on professional development in the years preceding their ascendancy. Leadership training programs have long been offered to aspiring executives, but CMO candidates must actively seek out mentoring opportunities in increasingly critical areas such as technology and data analytics.

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