Monday, February 23, 2009

Calibrate How You Operate

Current marketing operational models are becoming increasingly complex and more crucial to the strategic success of global businesses, but are facing significant challenges from entrenched corporate cultures, inter-departmental politics, and a lack of adequate data and information systems. According to new research by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, marketers fear they will be unable to implement the needed marketing platforms and automated processes required to effectively support strategic growth initiatives.

The research shows that even as global companies aspire to keep pace with dramatic market shifts and uncertain economic forecasts, major operational change appears extremely difficult to achieve. 83 percent of marketers say they face change-resistant corporate cultures, conflicts and competition between internal constituencies, and a resistance to operational accountability, visibility and measurement.

The study also revealed that global marketing executives are challenged by a lack of corporate mandate for alignment and integration. Some 41 percent of the 400-plus marketers audited point to siloed data and limited cross-functional feedback loops as major internal challenges subverting the marketing operational process. Many are also struggling with low adoption and use of CRM systems (38 percent). A surprising 28 percent say they lack ownership of critical aspects of the marketing budget while 26 percent continue to struggle for divisional control and independence.

The study underscores the critical need for marketing to drive operational effectiveness and optimally structure, resource, and run today's digitally driven, customer-centric, and globally distributed marketing organizations:

--More than 60 percent of respondents believe that marketing operational transformation is an essential area of focus. However, only 4.5 percent are very satisfied with their current level of marketing operational visibility, accountability and output.

--Overall marketing operational effectiveness is considered the least developed operational area by nearly 50 percent of respondents.

--Investments in web-centric platforms will continue in 2009 as the majority of marketers indicate they will invest in areas including email campaign management, web content management, eMetrics and web analytics platforms. Only 8 percent of respondents will look to eProcurement and strategic sourcing, an area that could yield significant budgetary savings and operational efficiencies, as a component of their marketing operations mix.

--While there is no clear method for budget development, only 10 percent of respondents indicate that marketing budgets are defined by a CMO-developed strategic agenda, while an equal number of executives see little to no forecasting, planning or budgeting within their organizations.

--More than 26 percent of the respondents are unsure of the level of funding that will be allocated to operational change programs; another 25 percent report that their companies will spend only $100,000 (US) or less on marketing operational improvement initiatives in the year ahead.

Customer engagement and customer centric communications are top of mind for marketers as there is a clear shift towards targeted, focused and precise communications. Many of the top operational improvements targeted by marketers revolve around optimizing customer engagement, including improving go-to-market strategies and efficiency and delivering a unified and consistent message.

Other key findings from the study include:

--Sixty-one percent of respondents are structured with centralized marketing operations and strategy with localized programs executed by regional/country managers

--A shocking 16 percent of marketers indicate that regardless of structure, marketing remains fragmented, lacking cohesion, integration and accountability

--It is clear that marketers are eager to embrace automation as a means to process optimization and effectiveness as only 19 percent indicate an organizational unwillingness to utilize marketing automation tools

--Also on a positive trend, only 17 percent of respondents indicate that marketing strategy is being rejected

--There are indications that alignment between sales and marketing is possible as the majority of marketers cite sales as being the primary stakeholder with interests and feedback relevant to marketing. This is confirmed as 94 percent of marketers are utilizing platforms designed to better capture, qualify, communicate, convert and manage leads and customer contact information.

More information on CRM can be found at

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