As Leaders Push for More Data-Driven Culture, CMOs Better Keep Up

In CMO/Marketing by Daniel Newman2 Comments

Data or intuition? That seems to be the question for many of our business leaders today who say they want more analysis of data, while still putting great trust in their intuition when making decisions. With Big Data finding its way into just about every marketing conversation, Chief Marketing Officers are forced to react to the trend for more analysis. However, many CMOs will tell you that despite the influx of available data, they prefer to trust their gut when deciding where their marketing priorities lie.

With all of this in mind, the overall message about the direction for marketing leaders appears to be clearer. Bottom line is that the greater awareness of valuable data is going to trigger marketing executives to take action. In fact, 8 out of 10 CMOs are expecting to rely more on data driven analysis and, therefore, predictive analytics are going to play a greater role as marketing executives try to keep up with the demands of their senior managers.

That’s the picture that emerges from a number of recent reports on the subject that I’ve been taking a look at over at Marketing Charts. Let’s take a look at them in chronological order:

  • 1 in 2 US Marketers “Trust Their Gut” – This report from Adobe, which was featured in March of this year, highlighted that while three-quarters of marketers agreed that capturing and analyzing data was the new reality, around half still tended to trust their instincts to guide their decisions. The majority, though, did see things changing with marketing undergoing something of a revolution towards data that they would need to embrace to succeed.
  • Senior Management Wants More Use of Analytics – May brought us another report, this time from MIT Sloan Management Review, which acknowledged a pressure from senior managers for a more analytical approach. Further evidence of a more traditional view came with two-thirds of professionals saying that their organization still relied heavily on management experience rather than data analysis. A move towards the use of predictive data was again highlighted though with many saying access to data was increasing and that their data analysis skills were improving.
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making Informed by Intuition – Step forward another month and we find evidence from APT that while the majority of business leaders are likely to describe their decision making process as “data-driven’, they demonstrate a low level of confidence in the data when it conflicts with their experience and intuition. In response to such a situation, 57% said that they would do some re-analysis of the data, 30% said they would collect more data and just 10% agreed that they would follow the data.
  • Business Decision-Makers Say Human Insights Should Precede Analytics – Last month saw yet another report on the subject, this time from FORTUNE Knowledge Group. This one appears to come down on the side of gut-feelings again, with the majority of decision makers saying that soft factors such as emotions, intuition and human factors play an important role in their thought process. A smaller, but still sizeable minority of 38% said that such factors should be ignored in favor of the pure data.
  • Spending on Analytics, Social and Content Growing – Up-to-date now with yet another study by Korn Ferry, which suggests that the drive for the use of data is winning the day with 80% of CMOs expecting to increase the use of predictive tools this year, some by more than 25%. Almost four in ten (39.1%) said that analytics where most likely to be used to measure the outcomes of creative programs, while a third said their most effective use of data has been in leveraging consumer data to support their intuitive theories. It looks from this that as predictive analysis skills improve, marketers may be able to combine an element of both data and intuition into decision-making.

One interesting footnote to this report is that spending on content and social media is also growing this year. This for me is an area where the use of data is vital; if the spending isn’t connected to and driven by data, then it’s just not going to work. Whatever their gut feeling may be, marketers need to bear that in mind.

The reports do paint a somewhat mixed picture, but the underlying trend is a move towards better use of data analysis and, as a great believer in knowing all about the numbers, that’s a move that I welcome. However, as marketers we must never forget that we are dealing with real people so that human, intuitive touch should never be lost, but instead used in conjunction with the data to produce an ever more personalized approach. It’s all about getting the balance right to get the best from both worlds.

What do you see happening? As a business leader or marketing executive, do you rely on the numbers or your gut? Or maybe you have found a way to combine the two effectively. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Image: Creative Commons 

Article First Seen on Forbes and Can Be Found Here 

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


  1. It’s
    interesting to see marketers not completely embracing big data at this point.
    Marketers have always relied on certain data points to help define campaigns
    and drive decisions. After all, most campaigns begin with some sort of focus
    group where customers are asked specific questions and those answers help shape
    the resulting ideas. But to go through all of that work only to say you don’t
    care what happens once it’s launched is ludicrous. I’m all for keeping
    advertising and marketing human, but data gives you a huge insight on what your
    next actions should be based on what worked and what didn’t, how people
    responded and even how they used it. Every marketer wants a clearer view into
    how to be more effective, engaging, etc. and data has those answers and really
    needs to be embraced or else they’re missing out on a treasure of insight and
    information. Sorry for being so long winded…

  2. Pingback: Chief Data Officer: Insights Meet Intuition - Millennial CEO

Leave a Comment