ARMONK, NY: Six in ten CMOs and sales leaders believe their industries will be disrupted by cognitive computing and nine in ten agree it is important for their organisation’s future but many are – unnecessarily, according to a new study – inhibited by the challenge of taking on yet another new technology.

IBM, conducted in co-operation with Oxford Economics, conducted a global survey of 525 CMOs and 389 heads of sales across industries to determine the extent to which they aim to embrace cognitive.

The resulting report, From data deluge to intelligent insights, found that CMOs expected the advantage of cognitive would come in improved customer experience and financial results – including increased financial yields and improved ability to identify marketing ROI.

For sales leaders, however, cognitive was about achieving a 360-degree understanding of customers so they can better predict needs and improve prospecting, lead strategy, customer service and experience.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of all respondents said their industries would be ready to adopt cognitive solutions within the next three years. But many admitted to being unsure of whether their own organizations were capable of doing so.

Most reported that their companies were still in the early stages of consideration and evaluation, facing various challenges including top level buy-in, organizational culture and having the requisite technology and skills.

“But the longer they linger there, the greater their risk of falling further behind those companies that are already implementing and operating cognitive today,” the report said.

It identified a small group – 13% of the survey – which had outperformed their competition for the past three years in revenue growth, profitability, or other factors. Among these businesses, 93% believed that cognitive computing is mature and market ready, while 91% stated that it is good for their organizations.

And almost one quarter (24%) of these ‘outperformers’ reported cognitive was already operational at their organizations, compared to just 3% of other CMOs and sales executives.

The study observed, however, since many marketing and sales teams are already in the midst of their own digital transformations, it is relatively straightforward to integrate cognitive computing into current digital strategy.

“By starting small, companies can begin to enjoy the benefits of cognitive computing and determine how best to expand over time,” it advised.

Data sourced from IBM; additional content by WARC staff