Dave Frankland [Posted by Dave Frankland]

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According to Amazon's former Chief Scientist, individuals will generate more data in 2009 than in the combined history of mankind. Think about the implications for your marketing and overall business. On the one hand, it is possible to know more about every prospect and customer, and to improve their customer experience based on what you know about them. On the other hand, it's very easy to drown in the exponentially growing stream of data. Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals sit at the nexus of this data explosion, while also dealing with tectonic shifts in customer behavior, and an increased demand for marketing accountability.

Although these changes generate plenty of anxiety for customer intelligence professionals, they should not be perceived as a threat. Forrester believes this is a time of tremendous opportunity—a call to arms for left-brain marketers across the globe.

In my latest research (featured this weekend by CRM Magazine) we demonstrate how Customer Intelligence is evolving from a tactical and functional role to the future command center for businesses. We identify three stages of CI maturity – from functional intelligence, to marketing intelligence, to strategic intelligence. Within the most advanced firms, the customer intelligence function has evolved into a strategic weapon that helps firms drive corporate strategy and create competitive advantage. These advanced firms use Customer Intelligence to go far beyond just improving campaign performance. They also use CI to improve customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction, as well as increase revenue, profitability, and customer value.


Given the strategic value of this role, we believe that the next generation CMO will come from the Customer Intelligence discipline. That’s not to say CMOs won't continue to care deeply about the brand, and the emotional connection that they create with their customers. But, as they struggle to engage with empowered, connected customers who have limited tolerance for marketing, firms will elevate CI within their organizations to influence mission critical business decisions with data-driven insights. These CMOs will help their organizations to focus on customer value, and use it as the connective tissue that causes all marketers and business units to pull in the same direction.

This report is intended to serve as a framework for turning customer data into smart business strategy. Over the next few months, Forrester’s CI research team will build on this research from a variety of angles. Next up is a self-test to help you understand your Customer Intelligence quotient and identify the key areas for investment and improvement. In the mean time, please join the conversation — let us know what challenges you are struggling with as you seek to improve the sophistication of your CI organization, and where our research can help to make you more successful in your role.