The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is both a well sought-after position, and a position of much heartache, frustration, and scrutiny. We make the case that today’s CMO is much like the ‘tragic hero’ from traditional, classic plays. They rise to the top due to their talents and successes, and yet those same skills that were once heralded as necessary, are causing their downfall.

Will CMOs catch a break in 2017? In short: not by a long shot.

In fact, if being a CMO is tough now, these next couple years are going to get even more challenging. In early November, Accenture released a report saying that CEOs look for the CMO to be at the forefront of leading “disruptive” business activities. Also, according to the report, 37 percent of CEOs believe that the CMO should be fired if those business goals and growth projections are not met. What makes it worse, is that the report states that only 30 percent of CMOs believe that they are “cutting edge innovators”, and 60 percent are so tied down with ‘traditional’ marketing activities, that they simply don’t have the bandwidth to start and implement non-traditional marketing and business initiatives.

What the report fails to bring out though, are those marketers who think they are cutting-edge innovators and really aren’t. We would suspect that the population of those marketers would be high.

Along with that report, Forrester also released some 2017 predictions in the business and marketing world. Again, the Chief Marketing Officer received very little love. The Forrester report declared the need for “whole brained” CMOs- those who are both creative and analytical rather than one or the other- or else those marketing professionals will be shown the door. In fact, the research group predicts that 30 percent of CMOs will be asked to leave due to them being poor half-brained marketing folks.

What a fall from grace!

For those current and aspiring CMOs, what are you to do? Should you fight back against the analysts, calling their ‘insights’ false alarms? Do you fully embrace the challenges they placed in front of you, and tackle them head-on? Or do you begin spending your nights updating your resume, and start attending networking events to make sure you start meeting people you may need to rely on in the future?

It’s hard to say.

What’s easy to say though is that the CMO position has indeed risen from the smallest one in the C-Suite to the gorilla in the room. The fragmentation of media, and the communal consumption behavior that consumers have adopted have made marketing an even more integral component to business success. As marketing professionals, you all have already known that. But now business analysts and others are taking notice. And that’s a good thing.

We opened this article with the notion that the CMO is our tragic hero. And we do believe that. We believe that CMOs are demanded to do so much, in so little time, with even fewer resources. They lack that time to sharpen skills or learn new ones. Some lack the authority to explore different business channels or build partnerships. Others are in businesses where they are refused the creative freedom these reports suggest they need to survive.

It’s easy to blame the CMO when growth opportunities fizzle. It is much harder to recognize when the business and its philosophy need to change in order for the CMO to be successful. But for our heroes, that’s a different story.