You may have heard murmurs about the newly released IBM study, “Stepping up to the challenge: How CMOs can start to close the aspirational gap,” that came out last week.
It was conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value and was based on in-person interviews with 500+ CMOs worldwide, delving — as studies of this nature and in this day and age often do — into their takes on the changing digital economy.
Among other findings or validations of our current industry state, the study indicates that 94% of CMOs feel advanced data analytics will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals.
However, an increased number of CMOs say their organizations are underprepared to capitalize on what is dubbed a “data explosion” — 82% reported being unready, compared to 71% three years before.
This is not the first and won’t be the last report to shine a light on marketers’ self-perception of unreadiness — personal, professional and/or organizational. It’s clearly a persistent mental state within our media economy, which is fueled by data and tech.
Shouldn’t Marketers Always Aspire?
While we should like and even honor the idea of helping CMOs, and by association those in their radius, move to a higher state of readiness on data and media tech — I find the idea of an aspirational gap a bit of a distraction, even a bit sad. For, even if you are ahead on the curve and considered a pacesetter in an ever-changing landscape, should you not always aspire?
It is in the light of aspiration that you strategize, set a reasonable course, chart your investment (in people, systems, development) and make your steadfast way. Sure, if the pace of change becomes so intense that you begin to feel neither you nor your organization can cope, aspiration can feel like a hopeless stretch. That’s when it’s time to breathe and remember the original impetus. What brought us here?
I like to think that most of us got ourselves into the proximity of tech and data, one way or another, because we sought a certain dynamism. We wanted to be a part of the change. Sure, over the course of decades between the 80s and now, the dynamics and dependencies between tech, data, marketing and media have greatly multiplied. It’s gotten more complicated.
Aspiration Is A Function Of Passion
But it seems to me that our collective existence is somewhat defined by our steady pursuit to prepare for (and navigate everyday) the dramatic growth of data, marketing, media, social and mobile channels. We seek to integrate online and brick-and-mortar as well as feet-to-the-street sales and service channels.
We must learn to use advanced customer data analytics to glean insights. So, if we stay in it, we have to stay passionate about the pursuit. Our existence always equals some combination of day-to-day mastery + aspiration. And that’s a positive force.
The struggle with aspiration also plays out in another way, as far as our collective psyche is concerned. Every week, I hear companies talk about the tension between who they are, what they are selling and how their clients see them today — and who and what they aspire to be, even just a year from now. As though even having both vantage points is a negative.
Don’t Let The Gap Freeze You In Your Tracks
The more we dwell on the tension between today’s and tomorrow’s state and fret the gap, allowing it to somewhat freeze us in our own tracks, the less we can possibly learn on the journey toward the target that keeps moving out.
It’s going to keep moving out. Don’t panic. Aspiration is the lifeblood of the territory we populate and what led us to cozy up to data and tech in the first place. The key is to keep moving.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.