Why are CMOs Running to Big Data Schools?

Big Data is mentioned more often than not in professional scenarios across all domains. While data is a word that is simple enough to understand and apply, big data is not an application that is easily understood.

Prevalence of Big Data

Gartner in a survey threw light on the prevalence of Big Data. The survey said that over 64 percent of all organizations either plan to invest in or have already invested in Big Data in 2013. Despite its prevalence and widespread use, it remains to be one of the most confusing words of 2012. Google throws up nearly 1.8 billion results in relation to a search for the words. Understanding data and its application therefore, might not seem as easy as it is should be.

Understanding the origin of the phenomenon

In the quest to understand the phenomenon, it is important to understand the etymology of the term. Onepointiq, a Big Data Consulting firm spoke about the term and said, “’Big Data’ is a relatively new term for one of information technology’s oldest trends: the exponential growth of business data.”

The advances made in technology has been largely responsible for this exponential growth in business data. Average disk drive capacities have risen from 1 MB in the 1980s to over 1 TB in 2010.

The business connection with the data

The enormous amounts of data collected through the several advances in technology have no inherent value for businesses anywhere. The value of the data comes from understanding what it means to the individuals responsible for running the businesses. These individuals are capable of converting and finding clarity in Big Data and translating it into the reality of business value. This individual is often the Chief Marketing Officer, the CMO, somebody who understands complex technology and data sets from the business perspective.

The CMO phenomenon

Chief Marketing Officers have become indispensable to businesses globally through a combination of failures and successes. They are currently relied on to gain an understanding of Big Data. CMO have been through a process of evolution over the past several years and recognizing the journey is crucial to understanding the connection with data.

When social media entered the global business scene a decade ago, it was hailed as a cure for all marketing and brand issues. Social media was approved as the only way to harness peer pressure and influence buying decisions. CMOs were roped in to prove their business value.

Slowly but surely, social media was recognized as an initiative and not a complete means to supporting business requisites. When the relevance of social media lost its all-powerful status, so did the CMO. In the year 2006, Spencer Stuart, a consulting firm pinned the average tenure of a CMO at just 23.2 months. The sustenance of social media and the CMO popularity consequently was as short as two years.

The Advent of Big Data

A few short years later, in the year 2010, talk of a new revolution in data arrived. The trajectory of growth between Social Media and Big Data is fairly comparable over a period of three years. A simple Google search will show a hockey stick graph of growth for Big Data.

Instead of trying to understand the phenomenon, the questioning should be directed toward understanding what the phenomenon can do. Leading industry experts say the question should be, “What can I do with massive amounts of data to more effectively understand my customers, my competitor and my business?”

Big Data provides a potent combination of brand power, technology, data and business. Harnessing this power and translating it to business success is the burden entrusted to the CMO.

Spencer Stuart, the same consulting company that showed the average tenure of CMOs as dropping with the relevance of social media, said that the current average tenure of the CMO position in a company was up to 45 months.

The increase is not necessarily a recognition of the performance of the position but a recognition of the business potential through the position of a CMO. Organizations are waking up to the unique positions that the CMOs have in their businesses and also the power that they have in defining the next generation.

Big Data seems to be a catalyst for the critical tipping point in the evolutionary scale of the CMO. The skill set required to fully comprehend the business application of technological tools such as Big Data is truly unique. The role of a CMO can either diminish or elevate through the transformations begun by the technological advancements. Therefore CMOs everywhere are scrambling to attend Big Data schools, to understand the phenomenon instead of getting wiped out by it.

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