Driving Disruptive Growth

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We live in a world of digital disruption, hyper-personalization, just-in-time marketing, and artificial intelligence. To lead in today’s environment, and meet the needs of today’s consumers, businesses must take advantage of the new tools that are available.

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are in an enviable position. They are in a direct line to customers, prospects, and the wider market. They are well positioned to drive a disruptive growth agenda. They can develop partnerships with digital start-ups, monetize data, and expand service models to deliver greater value to their customers. Business leaders must empower their CMOs to take control of the firm’s disruptive growth agenda. Failing to do so risks losing customers to a wave of new, disruptive competitors.

But unlike their American counterparts, Canadian marketing leaders seem indifferent to growth and unfazed by disruption. Canadian firms routinely overlook the role of marketing in managing disruptive growth.

These insights are echoed throughout Accenture’s research report The C-Level Disruptive Growth Opportunity. In Canadian firms, front-office thinking is misaligned with marketing’s role in regard to disruptive growth initiatives. For example, 61 per cent of CMOs say that they are responsible for leading disruptive business growth, but only 27 per cent of CEOs agree.

In order to take control of the disruptive growth agenda, CMOs must pivot and become more data-driven to better understand their customers. If they don’t, they will lose the opportunity to change consumer behaviours and will risk being forgotten.

Organizations lack preparedness on key ways to implement disruptive growth initiatives. According to Accenture’s research, almost four in five CMOs (79 per cent) said that their organizations are prepared to exploit the many opportunities that digital marketing channels offer. However, more than half (54 per cent) aren’t keeping pace with changing consumer behaviour, and nearly as many lack the support from their information technology (IT) teams.

But marketing groups must also commit to a strategy for tapping into digital marketing channel opportunities. Right now, they keep shifting gears about what they want or what they need, as 38 per cent of CMOs complain.

So, how do Canadian CMOs who want to reach their potential move into a disruptive growth role? They can try these three approaches:

  1. Align with IT.
    Greater alignment between marketing and IT is critical. Technology underpins and shapes the entire customer experience. More than 80 per cent of Canadian CMOs say so. And yet, 50 per cent of them operate largely independently from IT. Joint training should be focused around emerging marketing technologies and platforms—with an IT lead within marketing and a marketing lead within IT. And the result should be to create a new position: the chief experience officer.
  2. Leverage intelligent automation and integrate analytic capabilities.
    Every Canadian CMO should be able to extract customer data into actionable insights. And yet, almost 70 per cent of CMOs claim that their marketing teams allocate less than 20 per cent of their budget to analytics. Even more troubling is the fact that only 13 per cent of CEOs find intelligent automation important to their front office, as a link to marketing, sales, and service.
  3. Understand the complexity of the change involved.
    Interestingly, fewer CMOs than CEOs envision fundamental marketing changes occurring over the next five years. Those changes may dictate how resources are aligned, how the company engages customers, and what role analytics will play. However, CMOs are nearly 50 per cent more likely than CEOs to see marketing as directly accountable for a significant proportion of the company’s revenue. Clearly, the only way to ensure the success of marketing organizations is for CMOs to work together with CEOs and find a shared vision of the future. Then, agree on what role marketing will play in that vision.

Canadian CMOs are well positioned to take control of the disruptive growth agenda and generate new value for businesses. But that positioning is futile if they do not align with CEOs—and other business functions—to effect change.

About the Author

Berkeley Warburton is Managing Director, Accenture Strategy. She can be reached at berkeley.warburton@accenture.com.