The top 17 percent of global marketing leaders are driving innovation by adopting an agile, “living business” mindset, Accenture reports.

Way Beyond Marketing: The Rise of The Hyper-Relevant CMO explores the role CMOs play in driving a brand’s growth agenda. A survey of chief marketing officers and CEOs was conducted between March and May 2018 and was limited to companies with at least $500 million in annual revenues. Respondents included 935 chief marketing officers and 564 CEOs across 17 industry groups in 12 countries—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Accenture found that innovation and “transformation change” is being pioneered by a small group of CMOs among participating brands. These leaders are prioritizing changing customer needs by investing in better integration and collaboration.

This, Accenture asserts, will allow a brand to achieve a “living business” mindset. The company defines living businesses as those that unlock sustained growth by continuously adapting to evolving customer needs to achieve hyper-relevance.

“CMOs need to lead an effective, joined-up customer experience at all touch points, at pace and at scale, to drive growth,” said Mhairi McEwan, managing director and marketing practice lead for customer insight and growth at Accenture in the report.

The pioneering minority CMO group prioritizes transparency, innovation and hold their brand to higher standards—that is, standing for something bigger than a product or service. These CMOs look for disruption outside the usual channels, Accenture observed. For example, 56 percent of what Accenture refers to as “Pioneer CMOs” buy more through multichannel experiences than the conventional single channel, compared to other CMOs in the study at 33 percent.

In addition, they are 17 percent more likely than other CMOs to expand beyond traditional agency partners and 18 percent more likely to be “engaged with the possibilities of digital platforms.”

Two-out-of-three CEOs surveyed by Accenture were not confident in their CMO’s abilities. That being said, Accenture gives advice to CMOs on how to make their mark.

“In essence, there are four key actions they must take,” said McEwan, “using advanced customer insight and analytics to shape the future, building the marketing and sales capabilities of their people and organization, leveraging partnerships to create innovative new products, services and solutions and delivering cost-effective technological activation of personalized and scalable marketing programs.”

If that all sounds daunting, it’s important to note that the top 17 percent of CMOs in Accenture’s study are more likely to rely on professionals with the skillsets they desire. For example, 87 percent of “Pioneer CMOs” said they would rely on immersive experience designers, compared to 65 percent of others in the study. Other roles they would turn to include growth hackers, chief storytellers, marketing monitors, customer experience curators, futurologists, reality checkers, trust leaders, cause matchmakers, AI designers and consumer psychologists.