The Era of YOU – The Customer as CMO

November 6, 2013

From Prescriptive to Predictive

by Geraldine Tenten, Marketing and Communications Director, IBM Canada

In this post, Geraldine Tenten reports on research published in a report called “Marketing Science: From Descriptive to Predictive”.

The emergence of social, mobile and digital networks has played a big part in growing the relationship between organizations and their customers. It’s also forcing them to rethink how they work.

With the advent of these new channels and devices, marketers now have access to an unparalleled amount of customer data, leaving more than 70% of them feeling under-prepared to deal with this data explosion.











That was the finding of research we undertook recently, when we polled more than 350 marketing professionals for our report “Marketing Science: From descriptive to prescriptive” (click here to download). We also found less than a third say they’re successful at engaging with individual customers, about a quarter see themselves as highly effective at identifying and capturing new markets, and only 23% feel they are effective at uncovering new insights to generate additional business value.

In fact, among survey respondents, we identified three distinct categories of marketers today:

  • Traditional Marketers are venturing into predictive modelling on a small scale, but generally lack the organizational clout and deep, prescriptive insights to effect broad-scale change.

  • Constrained Analysts have limited strength along one of two dimensions: either they are struggling to move into more prescriptive analytics and modelling, or their scope is largely internal.

  • Marketing Scientists exhibit more advanced analytical capabilities and a broader scope of impact, enabling them to be more prescriptive and prompt far-reaching changes in their enterprises.

To make the most of big data and gain insight into questions that are crucial to companies  whether deciding what products customers will want next, or how to reach consumers on their mobile phone and they are browsing for products  marketers will need to move toward this third category and master the skill of marketing science.

To do so, they should start developing three core skills that may be new – architecting data, applying science and influencing action.

Architecting data means making it easier to analyze, by drawing on a wider range of sources, and structuring and organizing data in a more granular form that is digestible, dissectible, and easily retrieved.

Applying science means adopting the processes and skills of science and experimentation into the work, by developing hypotheses or benchmark against control groups, for example, rather than relying on gut feel and past history.

Influencing action means getting invested in change, and requires an organization to have a customer-centric culture. Predicting the future doesn’t mean much unless an organization can accept what the data shows and can embrace acting on it. And for an organization to embrace change, it requires a culture where the customer is at the centre of everything the organization does. Without that mindset, it’s much more difficult to advance an agenda of change and conscript other areas of the business to support it.

Marketing science can transform the way marketing professionals make business decisions. It can inject more discipline into the marketing process, enabling marketers to ask – and answer – complex questions they could never otherwise address.

Rather than relying on instinct, on being content with treating customers as broad demographics, marketers armed with marketing science intelligently plumb the depths of big data. Such marketers can connect with customers as individuals in what we call the “era of you”.

And that can only be good for business.

To learn more about smarter marketing, please click here.

GeraldineTenten_compressedGeraldine Tenten (@GTenten) is the Director of Marketing and Communications at IBM Canada. She was recently a guest presenter at a BCAMA Speaker Series event, and spoke about The Science of Smarter Marketing. With technology now infused into every aspect of commerce, the entire craft of marketing is changing, and the onus of this evolution has landed on the doorstep of the Chief Marketing Officer. The CMO’s mindset, as well as the skill set, has to evolve right along with it.