CMOs have a much more sophisticated view of the real value digital channels provide than many people give them credit for. That is especially true of those marketing executives who have successfully embedded agility into the way they work.

That’s a key insight from a new study called “CMO Insights on the Journey Toward Digital Agility”.

Produced by The CMO Club in partnership with Oracle Marketing Cloud and Accelent Consulting, the report says the top three drivers of digital marketing agility are: enhancing the customer experience; improving competitive position; and increasing sales.

The companies surveyed for the study came from the US and Europe, but the lessons would be familiar to senior marketers everywhere.

Leveraging digital marketing to get closer to the customer was considered almost twice as important as using it to increase sales.

According to the study’s authors, “A commonly-held belief is that enterprises primarily use digital marketing as just another sales channel. Certainly, this was an early driver. However, the study showed that there are now several other important elements that organisations consider. In fact, sales is now the third most important driver.”

There were also significant differences between organisations, based on the agility of their operations.

“The most-agile organisations use digital to better understand the markets they serve while reinforcing their position in those markets. More-agile organisations leverage digital to improve competitiveness and build better market positioning,” say the authors.

This contrasted with the least-agile organisations, which tended to focus on using digital to reach customers.

When it came to challenges, though, the vexed question of the relationship between IT and marketing still registered highly.

The authors reveal that capturing data and leveraging insights remains an elusive challenge, and that figuring out how best to work with IT to design and integrate the appropriate infrastructure is perceived as the biggest impediment.

Among the key other findings:

  • Most commonly, the CMO is owner of overall organisational digital strategy, in addition to digital marketing strategy;
  • Almost half of CMOs feel that digital marketing has provided a “much enhanced” view of the customer;
  • Half of CMOs feel that their traditional and digital marketing is only “somewhat aligned”;
  • In B2B enterprises, enhancing the customer experience is considered almost twice as important as increasing sales;
  • Typically, the marketing function defines the need and identifies a solution before turning to the IT function to act as implementer;
  • A new role of marketing technologist is becoming increasingly common;
  • Digital skills are a basic entry requirement for marketing professionals — 71 per cent of CMOs feel that their teams now have at least “basic digital proficiency”.


“World-class” digitally agile enterprises are defined by the researchers as those with core digital skills, advanced maturity and a desire to proactively seek new digital approaches.

In fact the study clearly suggests that digital agility is not just about understanding what’s needed — it is just as important to translate understanding into action and accelerating adoption. And this is where leaders outperform the laggards.

“The ROI is clear: reduced costs, increased sales, happier clients, enhanced competitiveness, deeper market understanding and (ultimately) increased revenue and profit.”

* This new CMO Solution Guide is based on a survey of over 80 CMOs and 1:1 interviews with marketing leaders in the US and Europe representing both B2C and B2B mid- to large-size organisations across a variety of verticals.

About the Author

Will Griffith is RVP Sales APAC Oracle Marketing Cloud which is a Corporate Member. Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.


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