Marketing leaders know that data and analytics will be central to their digital transformation, and they've dedicated themselves to understanding all kinds of applications to gain deeper insights into customers—from CRM, to social listening, to Web metrics. But to succeed in the future, CMOs are going to have to expand their expertise beyond those marketing tools to truly understand and leverage Big Data and analytics. To keep their organizations—and themselves—competitive, they'll need to understand the entire infrastructure that supports, processes and protects customer data through that software.
Why? Because the amount of data that marketers use now, though it has grown dramatically, is only a fraction of what we will use in the near future. CMOs are responsible for knowing everything, not just about the buyer but also about his or her experience, and for driving product and process innovation accordingly. Drawing a more complete picture of that customer will mean piecing together every bit of information possible—using, for example, granular transactional data in retail settings, security and fraud data in banking and even real-time genomic data in critical health-care situations.
Increasingly, data will come from the Internet of Things—Gartner estimates there will be 20.8 billion connected "things" worldwide by 2020, up from 6.4 billion this year—and from an ever-growing amount of unstructured data (think videos, images, GPS streams and any other data that are undefined).