SINGAPORE: Chief marketing officers in the Asia Pacific region are investing are investing an increasing proportion of their budgets in digital but they need to address a "performance gap" if they are to be fully effective, a new report has argued.

The 2012 CMO Insights Survey from consultancy Accenture interviewed senior executives across ten countries, including Singapore, Australia and China in Asia Pacific, and found that 62% of CMOs in this region had allocated over a quarter of their budgets to digital marketing, compared to a global figure of 47%.

"Organisations operating in Asia Pacific tend to have a more aggressive growth agenda compared to their western peers," Marco Ryan, managing director for ASEAN at Accenture Interactive, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "As a result, they also have a greater level of willingness and appetite to adopt digital technologies"

The study also noted, however, that companies' digital orientation showed a significant "performance gap" – the difference between CMOs' ratings of digital's importance and its actual performance.

This was true across all markets, not just Asia Pacific, with digital orientation having the widest performance gap of five capabilities Accenture identified CMOs utilising to improve their company's performance: innovation, customer analytics, digital orientation, customer engagement and marketing operations.

Inefficient business process, proliferating channels and talent gaps were cited as typical reasons for a lack of digital focus.

"It is not a surprise that CMOs are facing challenges in the digital space," observed Ryan, as he remarked on the region's complex marketing environment.

"There is a clear performance gap between the demands of the marketplace and the ability of marketing organisations to apply the digital technology talent to be more effective," he said.

Accenture's advice includes building new skills internally, through hiring, reskilling and redeploying staff "to improve efficiency, agility and responsiveness".

"The growing investment in digital capabilities will help marketing executives improve their understanding of changing consumer needs and manage multiple challenges," said Ryan.

But he cautioned that achieving improved performance would "require more than new digital and analytics talent".

"The challenge of digital transformation is how to implement beyond marketing and across the entire enterprise," he concluded.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Accenture; additional content by Warc staff