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Having the right talent is the most important factor for driving future organic growth, say respondents to the latest edition [pdf] of the CMO Survey. More than one-third (35.3%) of the CMOs surveyed for the report said that talent is most important, eclipsing those pointing to the right technology (11%) or the right data (9.8%).

In fact, tech and data – while important in their own right – also take a backseat to other factors beyond talent, including having the right operating model and stakeholder alignment.

These results bring to mind prior research in which marketers said that even in the specific area of customer data, while the right technologies for data collection and analysis are paramount, having the right people to manage and analyze the data is about as important. Unfortunately a talent gap persists in data-driven marketing, according to new research…

Marketing Hires to Rise in Coming Year

The good news is that CMOs are planning to invest in more talent. Overall, in fact, respondents estimate that their marketing hires will increase by 7.3% over the next year. That’s the highest planned increase in at least 6 years, topping the previous high of 6.6% in August 2015.

B2B companies seem to be the most bullish about hiring, with B2B services companies in particular envisioning a strong hiring push (+8%).

On a similar note, B2B companies are expecting to increase their marketing outsourcing to a lesser extent than their B2C counterparts.

MarTech Expertise Helps

Get ready for it: while the right talent is more important than the right tech, CMOs want people that have tech talent…

Specifically, when asked what skill they would most prioritize in hiring processes for future marketing talent needs, the largest share of CMOs pointed to marketing technology platform experience (21.8%). That was slightly ahead of creativity (19.4%), though a combination of creativity and data prowess seems like the ideal.

About the Data: The CMO Survey is fielded biennially and is sponsored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association, and Deloitte. This latest edition – the 20th – is based on 362 top US marketers at for-profit companies, 98% of whom are VP-level and above. The survey was fielded from January 9-30, 2018.

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