Playing It Safe: New Survey Suggests That Complacency Could Be Putting Marketers At Risk

by | 12.Jun.18

Only a fraction of marketing leaders are using AI and predictive marketing. Are they being prudent, or are they losing their edge?

In the digital era, CMOs have emerged as the organization’s transformational leaders. Over the past decade, marketing technologies have led the way, and the marketing function has often been quicker than other organizational departments to adopt key technologies such as automation and data analytics. In fact, by 2016, an Altimeter report found that CMOs were more likely to lead digital transformation than CIOs.

But marketing leaders may be slowing down and resting on their hard-earned laurels according to a new survey conducted by DemandLab in partnership with Ascend2. The survey found that while more than half of marketing leaders use data analytics in their decision making, and 42 percent are using technology to streamline their operations, just 25 percent reported using AI and predictive marketing in their campaigns.

The results suggest that marketing leaders may be playing it safe and waiting for the dust to settle as marketing technologies continue to proliferate at a dizzying pace.

However, more than 75 percent of the survey respondents also said their current marketing data and technology strategy was performing above the industry average. While on the surface, this is good news, it could also be a warning sign indicating that marketing leaders are becoming complacent and failing to recognize how swiftly the industry is evolving.

Organizational theorist Geoffrey Moore has written about the “chasm” between early adopters of a technology and the mainstream companies that follow. According to the Salesforce, Fourth Annual State of Marketing Report 67 percent of companies now use marketing automation and 75 percent use marketing analytics. Clearly, the majority of marketers have now crossed the chasm when it comes to the first wave of martech. A decade ago, automation and data analytics were at the forefront of marketing technology; today, they’re the status quo.

Now there’s a new chasm, and marketers are once again standing on the edge and waiting to see who jumps feet first into AI and predictive marketing. Those who do will experience the same competitive advantage as the fearless marketers who, not so many years ago, saw the transformative potential of marketing automation and took the leap. They’re also likely to experience a few more growing pains as these emerging technologies work out some of the kinks.

There are definitely drawbacks to being a trailblazer, but this survey suggests that marketing leadership may be pumping the brakes a little too hard in some case. In our book, Change Agents, we made the case for more bravery and curiosity in the face of the seismic change impacting marketing. If next-wave martech is as disruptive as the first wave, the 25 percent of marketing leaders who have already taken the leap are set to outpace their more complacent competitors in the years to come.

To learn more about how marketing leaders are approaching marketing technology and data challenges, download your copy of the 2018 report “Leadership Perspectives: Leveraging Data and Technology to Drive Marketing Success.”

Martech Report

Uncover what marketing decision-makers are thinking—and doing—about data and how this impacts martech initiatives today.

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