The average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a time-stressed professional who wears his or her sleep deprivation like a badge of honor. They let anything and everything keep them up at night, including the usual anxieties about striking a work-life balance.
Everybody worries. But which worries of a professional nature gnaw at the CMO’s insides most acutely while they’re tossing and turning, or tossing back a few hot toddies in the wee hours? Like any senior executive, they tend to fret over anything that might potentially sink their company, end their career, torpedo their chief business initiatives, or water down the return on their most strategic investments.
Where big data is concerned, many CMOs have wagered all of the above–the future of company, career, initiatives, and investments–on a set of leading-edge technologies that have high potential but also pose considerable technical and business risks. The chief big-data-related worries that eat at them are:
- Are we acquiring, aggregating, and analyzing the right data sources to give us an accurate, detailed 360-degree view of the customer?
- Is big data overkill for most marketing, brand, and customer engagement requirements?
- Are we overemphasizing digital channels to the point where we risk alienating our core “brick-and-mortar” customers?
- Is it a waste of marketing budgets to try to gauge customer influence and differentiate engagement strategies accordingly?
- Is social-media customer-sentiment monitoring overrated, irrelevant, or misleading?
- Do fine-grained customer segmentation and influence assessment truly help us to target our campaigns for maximum lift?
- Do our proactive big-data-powered target marketing and engagement efforts expose us to charges that we’re invading privacy and stalking the customer?
- Are we going too far or not far enough to bring social, mobile, and other digital channels into the core of our customer engagement strategies?
- Should we be incorporating real-time clickstream analytics and other behavioral data sources into efforts to tune the customer experience across multiple channels?
- Should we be outsourcing all or part of our big-data platforms and applications to the cloud rather than invest in on-premise servers, storage, applications, and technical skillsets?
- How can we justify these digital marketing efforts and measure their bottom-line payback?
- Are we truly differentiating with all of these digital engagement efforts, or simply keeping up with the competition?
- Are we paying attention to customer feedback, and possible irritation and bewilderment, at all these digital engagement efforts?
The list can go on and on.
One of the reasons why CMOs can’t get a good-night’s sleep is that so much is in flux these days in their jobs–marketing practices, enabling technologies, customer expectations–that they find it hard to get their bearings straight. They have to take calculated gambles with a lot of bleeding-edge, unproven engagement strategies that revolve around some field of dreams called “big data.”
It’s an exciting, creative, and revolutionary period to be a marketing professional. You might also say it’s a time of great disruption–of the CMO’s circadian rhythms and of so much more.