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April 23, 2021

Measuring Your Organization's Maturity: The Five Levels

For Business Transformation clients, our team often considers the business's level of organizational maturity as a starting point, ranging from functional to innovative.
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When we work with clients undertaking a Business Transformation, our team often considers the level of their organizational “maturity” as the starting point – the role the organization plays in the enterprise, the responsibilities it has to its peers and functional groups, and the sophistication of its outcomes, based on effectiveness, efficiency, and customer intimacy.  

Often when applied to a growth or customer-focus context, this conversation starts with a marketing or sales organization that wants to improve customer intimacy or experience, and transform the way the organization is working internally (one kind of business transformation you may hear in today’s corporate world).  To get an idea of the marketing or sales group’s current state of maturity, we frequently work with leadership and supporting teams to identify the organization’s place across the following five levels:  

  1. FUNCTIONAL: Marketing is a support function for sales and executive teams, with minimal or baseline digital capabilities. The organizational focus is on Marketing Communications and Sales enablement.
  1. TRANSACTIONAL: Marketing is support function for the enterprise, with some digital capabilities. The focus is on ensuring work requests are fulfilled with accepted effectiveness and efficiency. The marketing department is generally not seen as contributing to market differentiation.
  1. EFFICIENT: Marketing is a core function of the business. The people and the organization are digitally savvy and leverage data deliberately. Marketing technologies are leveraged and consistently optimized.
  1. STRATEGIC: Marketing is a partner in day-to-day business performance, and the organization’s leadership is proactive and data-driven. There is a bias for digital channels, which are integrated across the customer experience.
  1. INNOVATIVE: Marketing leads the business, and its focus is on managing brands. P&L is aligned with a brand-based structure, and the organization has abundant digital and creative innovators. Marketing leadership is valued member of CEO’s Leadership Team.

These levels aren’t discrete – we view them as a continuum. Success also doesn’t require every marketing or growth-based organization to perform at Level 5, all or any of the time. For instance, some organization’s environments, enterprises, and customers may enable them to effectively and efficiently function at a Transactional level. As an organization matures however, there is a baseline level of customer intimacy that we expect to grow alongside the maturity level, and this baseline expectation has only increased over the past decade - particularly over the past year.

To establish a level of maturity in partnership with clients, we use a combination of assessments and mapping exercises. This involves deep-diving into the enterprise and the organization’s core customer engagement components: People and Agility, Marketing Insight and Analytics, Readiness and Process, Activation and Execution, and Technology. Exploring each of these interdependent components provide insight into the way the organization works to accomplish its goals, and how it supports the broader business: engaging with peer functions, leadership, and shared services. Assessing sophistication along these components provides the structure to understand the organization’s level of maturity at a given moment in time, and to identify where the organization may need to focus efforts to evolve moving forward.  

CMG is currently gathering research on how Fortune 500 companies’ fall in a distribution curve across the five levels, both for their (self-reported) current states, and for the relevant future states of those organizations and businesses. Our personal experiences tell us that most organizations are currently well-served by an efficient or strategic Marketing, Sales, and / or Customer Experience organization(s), but consumer trends and digitization are constantly shifting the definitions of those maturity levels.

If you’re interested in exploring how your organization or business identifies along these levels of maturity, you can take our interactive quiz here.