A study conducted by IBM recently revealed that the majority of CMOs not only share the same pain points in their organizations, but the numbers further indicate a unpreparedness to handle the shared challenges they face. The four biggest challenges cited? The rise of “big data” and social media, the boom in channels and devices, and the evolving landscape of consumer demographics.

Among 1,734 CMOs in 19 different industries and 64 countries, the number of CMOs unprepared to deal with these challenges is staggering: Four out of five anticipate complexity in their organizations at a high or very high level for the next five years, yet half do not feel ready to shoulder the complexity.

As to big data, an overwhelming 70% of CMOs think that it’s important, but aren’t prepared to deal with the rigorous data analysis that will be required. The sentiment is that coming by data isn’t the problem–the data is there to be had–it’s the insight from such data that is lacking.

So, you must wonder–how do you aim to rise above the uncertainty and aim to persevere? There are some steps top CMOs encourage:

Understand individuals as well as markets.

When factoring social into your mix, you must learn to see every customer as a relationship and not just a transaction. Customers, now more than ever, look to companies to share their values and purpose, and not just their unique selling proposition. Seek to truly understand your customers, and also deliver value.

Measure and quantify marketing’s contribution.

According to the study, two thirds of of CMOs think ROI will be the primary measure of their effectiveness by 2015, yet half of all CMOs feel ill prepared to provide solid numbers. Look to sources outside the traditional, and ones that can stand alone versus become an aggregate number. For instance, only 26% of CMOs track blogs, which are at-large managed by marketing. Start with the channels that marketing is dedicated to delivering first, then attempt to analyze the piece of the larger, more conventional pie to find out what share marketing is contributing. If your marketing department is solely responsible for email campaigns, track responses and opportunities resulting from each with vigor, and do so consistently.

Understand your customers as they are, not as how you’d like them to be.

The study revealed that 70% of customers reach out on social for discounts (61%) and to make purchases (55%), and only 33% seek to feel connected to your brand. Don’t lament their passiveness–enjoy knowing this little nugget of truth, and instead take advantage of it. You can actively satisfy all three behaviors at once–bring them value at a discount, being sure to give them the option to research your values and purpose, then allow them to make a purchase in the same exchange, while also further giving them the option to interact with you immediately or in the future, be it with newsletters, emails or a followup.

And, for goodness sake, measure those interactions–you can’t present hard numbers if you’re not counting what matters, and what matters is your every marketing effort. Nothing is too big or small to measure when you are trying to strengthen your position and manage the powerful forces that would seek to challenge your confidence.

Is your marketing department and organization facing the same challenges? How have you reacted to these challenges? We would love to hear how your organization is meeting them head on.