CMOs First In The Firing Line If Business Growth Targets Are Not Met, Accenture Strategy Study Finds

Career Climbers / 3rd November 2016

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) currently have the deck stacked against them, according to new research from Accenture Strategy. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) say that although around five C-level executives are responsible for driving disruptive business growth, the majority (37 percent) hold CMOs first in the firing line if growth targets are not met. Chief Sales Officers (34 percent) and Chief Strategy Officers (29 percent) follow closely behind. CMOs can take control of their destiny by leading the disruptive growth agenda. If they don’t, others will.

The Accenture Strategy report, ‘The C-level Disruptive Growth Opportunity’, is based on the company’s annual CMO Insights report, which gauges the attitudes of 535 CEOs and 847 CMOs from organizations around the world, on the opportunities and challenges impacting business growth today.

“Organizations that rely on ‘growth by committee’ struggle to achieve their targets. It breeds a C-suite culture where everyone is responsible, yet no one is accountable – and onus unduly falls onto someone, usually the CMO,” said Robert Wollan, senior managing director leading Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “CMOs can take a greater role by actively driving the disruptive growth agenda and generating new value for the business. Such initiatives include developing ecosystems with non-traditional players, launching platforms that elevate current products into expanded service models for customers, and increasing revenue through next generation connected data monetization – all of which CMOs are well positioned to do.”

CMOs best placed to lead the disruptive growth agenda

CMOs are seen as one of the likely leaders to take control of the disruptive growth agenda due to their unique position of being in direct line of customers, prospects and the wider market, their access to digital levers and their focus on innovation.

CEOs see CMOs as the primary driver of disruptive growth (50 percent), closely followed by Chief Strategy Officers (49 percent), and Chief Sales Officers (38 percent). The majority of CMOs (96 percent) also recognize the importance of disruptive growth to revenue potential, and another 75 percent believe they have a great deal of control over the disruptive growth levers in their company.

Barriers to adopting a disruptive growth position

However, many CMOs are not currently in a position to drive disruptive growth due to mind-set and time. Only 30 percent of CMOs believe they are cutting-edge marketing innovators, and a little over a third (37 percent) of their time is currently spent on innovation. 60 percent spend the majority of their time on traditional marketing initiatives, such as maintaining brand image, improving customer experience and loyalty. While evidently important, over half (54 percent) feel that a large portion of their marketing budget is being wasted and not delivering the results the business expects.

“Never has there been a better time for CMOs to reposition themselves by taking control of the disruptive growth agenda. Such initiatives are often the most creative, have the biggest revenue potential and command strong leadership,” said Kevin Quiring, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, North America Lead, Accenture Strategy. “CMOs are well positioned to do so due to their experience of being brand guardians, which will help enable them to intuitively navigate new opportunities internally and externally, and identify new areas of growth.”

Becoming a disruptive growth change agent

CMOs that want to reach their potential and move into a disruptive growth role can do so by:

1. Opening the door: The executive that can best articulate a disruptive growth strategy will be the defacto ‘Chief Growth Officer’. As many companies look to create this position, CMOs should be the one to step forward to create the platforms that will catapult their company forward into new business opportunities.
2. Making priorities disruptive: While traditional marketing activities continue to be important, more focus can be afforded to driving disruptive growth initiatives that present higher revenue growth potential. Initiatives include launching new business models, developing new partnerships, and increasing revenues from data monetization.
3. Accepting clear responsibility for disruptive growth: Establish the ‘Office of Disruptive Growth’. Marketing then becomes the epicenter of disruptive growth that moves their organization to own a greater share of each customer, as well as fostering new customers.
4. Paying attention to the evolving competitor landscape: Who your competitors were yesterday are not who they are today. Only 43 percent of CMOs believe defending their organization against new competitors that have not traditionally been part of their industry is a priority to their organization today. Organizations can avoid being disrupted, but only if they can see what’s coming.
5. Becoming a new market entrant: Only 30 percent of CMOs say their organization is moving into a different industry outside their traditional industry. Organizations that want to get ahead need to diversify their offerings and appeal to new audiences. CMOs have the opportunity to guide that process and identify the best fit.

Please visit to read the full report. Join the conversation at @AccentureStrat #CMO.

About the research

Accenture Strategy’s ‘CMO Insights’ report is an annual online research report which looks at the opportunities and challenges impacting business growth today. The 2016 report surveyed 535 CEOs and 847 CMOs across five markets: North America, South America, Western Europe, ASIA and South Pacific. Fifteen industry sectors were included in the research: automotive, industrial equipment, life insurance, property & casualty insurance, media & entertainment, pharma / biotech, life sciences medical products, retail, telecom, transportation & travel, banking, utilities, consumer goods & services, electronics & high tech, energy. Respondents represented companies mostly posting annual revenues of more than US$1 billion.

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