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87% of marketers worry about technology replacing jobs in ‘red flag’ for CMOs

With evolving organisational dynamics and rapid technology changes, 87% of marketers are concerned about technology, including GenAI, replacing jobs in their industry.

A Gartner survey of 627 marketers between August and September of 2023 found that 89% of marketers are concerned about layoffs at their company. While the majority of marketers are optimistic about their career progression and skill preparedness, 55% report experiencing mismatched job expectations in their current roles.

This is compounded by environmental uncertainty and undue burden from marketing technology: 61% of marketers reveal they have encountered a technology and/or process change in the past 12 months. In addition, marketers also cite instability in leadership as a factor, with 20% having experienced a recent change in senior marketing leadership.

“These findings should be a red flag for CMOs, as high environmental uncertainty, mismatched role expectations and martech burden can lead to burnout as well as increased attrition,” said Iliyana Hadjistoyanova, Director, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing Practice. “CMOs must refocus their talent strategy and prioritize development with a strong focus on upskilling and change management to ensure their function is prepared in the face of ongoing disruption.”

Additional Gartner survey findings that will better equip CMOs to respond to the fast-evolving landscape include:

A Gartner survey of 405 martech leaders between May and June of 2023 found 63% report that marketing lacks the technical skills to successfully integrate and operate some of the technologies in their stack.

“These leaders are seeing integration and skill gaps as driving these issues,” said Hadjistoyanova. “It is crucial that CMOs closely align with their martech leaders to establish talent development plans that not only assess but address these skill gaps. Martech investments have a direct impact on the employee experience, and CMOs must weigh these costs and benefits.”

Despite the acceleration of GenAI, which 47% of marketers are already using, the majority expressed concern about technology replacing jobs in their industry. In fact, a Gartner survey of 822 business executives between September and November of 2023 revealed that 26% of marketing leaders plan headcount reductions as a result of GenAI in 2024.

“When employee fears go unchecked, an environment of increased uncertainty will insufficiently prepare marketers for a successful future,” said Hadjistoyanova. “By developing robust talent plansthat incorporate the use of GenAI and work to increase skill preparedness, CMOs can mitigate its impacts on employees’ wellbeing, leading to overall engagement and retention. These actionable steps must address role transition and fit-for-purpose employee learning, as well as cover technology and process changes related to GenAI adoption.”

Marketers who engage in higher GenAI use are 30% less likely to report high burnout, and 40% less likely to intend to leave their jobs in the next year.

“Marketing’s use of technology is constantly adapting, and the accelerated adoption of GenAI will encourage greater performance and engagement, enhance creativity, as well as free up time and allow marketers to engage in more thought-intensive work,” said Hadjistoyanova. “While CMOs cannot fully insulate their employees from change, they must take early action in change management in a clear and transparent manner to ensure employee buy-in and mitigate any negative impacts of change.”

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Marketers at loggerheads with IT departments over data

Seventy-eight percent of organisations report centralising customer data management within information technology (IT) teams, with marketers bemoaning the fact that use of new tech is often restricted by their cyber overlords.

The Gartner survey of 405 marketing leaders conducted in May and June 2023 found 59% of marketers agreed with the statement that “our IT policies and/or strategy constrains our use of emerging technologies.”

“Collaboration between IT and marketing has traditionally been focused on selecting applications with their own data stores, such as a marketing automation solution which stored contacts, leads, and content,” said Benjamin Bloom, VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Diversification of the usage of customer data, beyond marketing, forces marketers to re-evaluate how their applications interact with enterprise-wide data. Successful CMOs should seize the opportunity to re-focus and leverage a new class of cloud-based IT resources, unless they fall short of marketing’s needs.”

Marketing’s autonomy over their own technology choices is also shifting based on the vital role that data and cohesive workflows play in productivity: 78% of respondents said they must select their solutions from pre-approved vendors and platforms.

The survey also found that across key martech activities, IT is on average taking greater ownership, and the frequency of marketing teams with sole ownership is receding. This shift spans both business-centric work such as acquisition of budget for martech, and driving adoption and utilization to support customer journeys, to more technical work such as configuration and deployment of new martech, and managing vendor relationships and contracts; management of all of these shifted toward IT year-over-year.

Overall, while martech teams were open to letting marketing and IT play to each others’ relative strengths, the share of respondents stating IT had sole responsibility or was leading with marketing in support increased across every activity for which there was year-over-year data between 2022 and 2023.

“In a perfect world, marketers lead more business-focused work, and IT leads more technical and integration activities. The focus should be on getting the work done, not a territorial battle,” said Bloom. “Many marketers will welcome this shift given the dependence of many technical activities on underlying data warehouse infrastructure owned by IT, but just as encouraging is the increasing business-savvy from IT teams which can drive the ultimate goal of productive martech stacks.”

Generative AI leads inflated expectations on the 2023 emerging tech ‘hype cycle’

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is positioned on the Peak of Inflated Expectations, projected to reach transformational benefit within two to five years.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2023 report encompasses Generative AI within the broader theme of emergent AI, a key trend on this Hype Cycle that is creating new opportunities for innovation.

“The popularity of many new AI techniques will have a profound impact on business and society,” said Arun Chandrasekaran, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “The massive pretraining and scale of AI foundation models, viral adoption of conversational agents and the proliferation of generative AI applications are heralding a new wave of workforce productivity and machine creativity.”

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is unique among Gartner Hype Cycles because it distills key insights from more than 2,000 technologies and applied frameworks that Gartner profiles each year into a succinct set of “must-know” emerging technologies. These technologies have potential to deliver transformational benefits over the next two to 10 years (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2023

Source: Gartner (August 2023)

“While all eyes are on AI right now, CIOs and CTOs must also turn their attention to other emerging technologies with transformational potential,” said Melissa Davis, VP Analyst at Gartner. “This includes technologies that are enhancing developer experience, driving innovation through the pervasive cloud and delivering human-centric security and privacy.”

“As the technologies in this Hype Cycle are still at an early stage, there is significant uncertainty about how they will evolve,” added Davis. “Such embryonic technologies present greater risks for deployment, but potentially greater benefits for early adopters.”

Four Themes of Emerging Technology Trends

Emergent AI: In addition to generative AI, several other emerging AI techniques offer immense potential for enhancing digital customer experiences, making better business decisions and building sustainable competitive differentiation. These technologies include AI simulation, causal AI, federated machine learning, graph data science, neuro-symbolic AI and reinforcement learning.

Developer experience (DevX): DevX refers to all aspects of interactions between developers and the tools, platforms, processes and people they work with to develop and deliver software products and services. Enhancing DevX is critical for most enterprises’ digital initiative success. It is also vital for attracting and retaining top engineering talent, keeping team morale high and ensuring that work is motivating and rewarding.

Key technologies that are enhancing DevX include AI-augmented software engineering, API-centric SaaS, GitOps, internal developer portals, open-source program office and value stream management platforms.

Pervasive cloud: Over the next 10 years, cloud computing will evolve from a technology innovation platform to become pervasive and an essential driver of business innovation. To enable this pervasive adoption, cloud computing is becoming more distributed and will be focused on vertical industries. Maximizing value from cloud investments will require automated operational scaling, access to cloud-native platform tools and adequate governance.

Key technologies enabling the pervasive cloud include augmented FinOps, cloud development environments, cloud sustainability, cloud-native, cloud-out to edge, industry cloud platforms and WebAssembly (Wasm).

Human-centric security and privacy: Humans remain the chief cause of security incidents and data breaches. Organizations can become resilient by implementing a human-centric securityand privacy program, which weaves a security and privacy fabric into the organization’s digital design. Numerous emerging technologies are enabling enterprises to create a culture of mutual trust and awareness of shared risks in decision making between many teams.

Key technologies supporting the expansion of human-centric security and privacy include AI TRISM, cybersecurity mesh architecture, generative cybersecurity AI, homomorphic encryption and postquantum cryptography.

B2B buyers value 3rd party interactions more than those with digital suppliers

B2B buyers report that they value third-party interactions 1.4x more than digital supplier interactions, according to new Gartner data.Its survey of 771 B2B buyers conducted in November and December 2022 revealed some third- party interactions, such as reading customer references or reviews and consulting directly with third-party experts, are better suited to provide customers with value affirmation.

“Buyers want to feel confident throughout their purchase journey, and third-party sources can help get them there,” said Rick LaFond, Director Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.

The survey showed YouTube as the top social media channel to influence a recent B2B purchase decision, followed by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Social Media Platforms Informing Recent B2B Purchase Decisions

Source: Gartner (June 2023)

“Social channels are extremely under leveraged platforms for B2B brands,” continued LaFond. “Marketers can go beyond using social channels for flashy short-form videos promoting brand values to truly demonstrate how the brand supports different customer needs and pain points across various stages of the buying process.”While third-party interactions are top of mind for B2B buyers, a supplier’s digital channels still can have a large impact on the purchase process. When asked to identify which digital supplier interactions were engaged during a purchase decision, B2B buyers identified a supplier’s website as the most leveraged channel, followed by the supplier’s social media channels, an online search for the supplier and the supplier’s interactive tools (e.g., product recommenders, price calculators).

“Brands do not need to have their social strategy solely rely on third-parties,” said LaFond. “The data clearly shows that buyers are approaching social from a holistic buying perspective.

“Brands’ digital experiences must improve if they are so far down the list of what customers value. Most B2B CMOs are probably not tapping into the return of third-party interactions despite the weight they carry in serving as information sources for their buyers.”

‘Catalytic marketing’ will allow CMOs to drive profitable growth

Catalytic marketing experiences provide the greatest boost to commercially productive behaviours such as paying a premium or referring other customers to the brand.

That’s according to analysts at Gartner, who categorise catalytic marketing experiences as those that change customers’ understanding of their own needs and make them feel more confident moving in a new direction.

During the opening keynote of the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, Gartner experts explored how catalytic marketing can help alleviate the pressures CMOs are under to deliver profitable, digital growth amid disruption.

“In a pressurized environment, CMOs are eager to optimize their investments and justify their existence,” said Carlos Guerrero, VP, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing Practice. “Yet they overcompensate in their customer-focused activities, continuously investing in more channels, technology, customer data and personalization.

“The singular focus on customers results in a series of escalating and unprofitable investments in experiences that customers find invasive and tune out. To spark productive, lasting changes in organizations and audiences requires catalytic marketing.”

Catalytic experiences help marketers do less to get more: They don’t require additional integrated data, engagement across channels, nor more technology or a fully optimized engine for journey orchestration – all of which caters to CMOs’ budget and resource constraints.

Instead, they require one meaningful opportunity that prompts customers to stop and think, change their perspective on something they knew well, or teach them something entirely new about the brand.

Gartner research shows that a single catalytic digital experience doubles the likelihood of commercially productive behaviors. It matters even more than having a large number of memorable brand interactions and rating all of them as high-value.

For example, one cosmetics company provided customers with an AI-powered assessment of their unique skincare needs, simulating an in-person beauty advisor. Customers could reflect on and explore skin improvement goals based on an honest appraisal of their skin’s features compared to other people their age.

“The cosmetic brand went beyond being just another product recommender by supporting customers’ own self-assessment of their skin prior to being routed to any product recommendation,” said Lizzy Foo Kune, VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice. “Ultimately, the catalytic experience it provided deliberately elicited a moment of self-reflection that gave customers the confidence to commit to a new skin care regimen, providing lasting change in their target audience.”

The Three C’s of Catalytic CMOs: Clarity, Connections and Courage

Catalytic marketing must be supported by a distinct management orientation that allows CMOs to create and deploy these experiences at scale.

Catalytic marketing leaders demonstrate and cultivate unusual levels of:

  • Clarity (of strategy) – They willingly articulate a limited set of core objectives and brand traits, and exercise discipline in pursuing a small number of strategically important activities.
  • Connections (of capabilities) – They prioritize capabilities and management techniques that enable coordinated, adaptive use of resources, including converged channel management and cross-channel customer experiences.
  • Courage (of convictions) – They defend choices to constrain remits, push back on urgent but unimportant requests, and opt to pare or devolve ownership of non-core tasks or investments.

“Progressive CMOs are breaking free from the cycle of more by embracing catalytic marketing and, in the process, shifting from growing marketing’s scope to growing marketing’s success as an efficient growth engine for the enterprise,” concluded Guerrero.

81% of senior marketers have contingency plans… but only 21% follow them

Eighty-one percent of marketing leaders have established a contingency plan to respond to disruptions, according to a survey by Gartner, but just 21% of respondents said they follow these plans, as marketers weather the storm of continued economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

A Gartner survey of nearly 400 marketing leaders conducted in November and December 2022 revealed that 44% of digital marketing leaders who enacted a contingency plan during an economic disruption event exceeded organization year-over-year profit growth.

“With ongoing economic and geopolitical disruption, contingency plans are more important than ever,” said Greg Carlucci, Senior Director Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Having a plan is a good first step, but following through on that plan when disruption occurs is what really matters.”

Nearly all respondents reported adjusting their marketing budgets in response to the current economic environment.

Positive budget adjustments are an effective way to counter disruption: Respondents who increased spending relative to their contingency plan were nearly two times more likely to achieve year-over-year profit growth than those who decreased spending or did nothing.

In contrast, just 5% of respondents decreased their spend, reflecting marketing leaders’ increased appetite for budget to deliver against their organizational objectives.

The three most utilized digital channels for B2B marketing organisations executing their 2022 marketing strategy were email marketing, social advertising and SEO, highlighting the effectiveness of these channels during times of disruption.

Third of marketing budgets spent on operational excellence, but results inconsistent

Thirty-one per cent of marketing budgets are spent on the pursuit of operational excellence, despite having inconsistent impact on overall organisational performance.

Gartner surveyed over 400 marketing operations (MarOps) leaders between August and October 2022 to find that 94% of marketing organisations are formally pursuing operational excellence (e.g., improving processes, building new capabilities). This indicates an acceleration of investment since 2020, when only 49% of marketing organizations surveyed had a dedicated MarOps leader.

However, the survey found that 72% of operational excellence pursuits don’t actually demonstrate characteristics that align with success, putting enterprise growth and marketing transformation at risk.

“CMOs are under pressure to make every dollar count,” said Michael McCune, Senior Director, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing practice. “However, their teams are spending a large proportion of their budgets pursuing change and improvements in ways that aren’t effective.

“‘Business-as-usual’ marketing activities do have to change, but CMOs shouldn’t divert funds away from activities such as advertising and trade shows that could have a more significant impact on marketing’s overall remit to drive growth.”

Strong pursuits of operational excellence complement the day-to-day management of marketing’s work and are associated with characteristics such as automated workflows, effective use of Agile methods and persistent effort over multiple years.

Organizations with strong pursuits were 43% more likely to report exceeding their operational performance goals compared to organizations without strong pursuits, but at a greater cost: They spend 45% more than average and dedicate 18% of their staff to achieve MarOps excellence, compared to the average 5% of staff dedicated to all other pursuits.

“Marketing organisations can’t blindly or ineffectively invest in improvement at the expense of business as usual unless it shows results, given the tight economic and labor markets,” said McCune. “They need to lay a better foundation for that investment and can look to strong pursuits for guidance.”

In order to maximize the impact of future MarOps investments, Gartner says marketing leaders should:

  • Communicate to stakeholders that pursuits of operational excellence will not have a persistently high cost. A new pursuit likely has many opportunities to drive improvements, but it should not be a cost dragged on marketing over the long term. As improvement occurs, resource requirements for continuous improvement should diminish.
  • Seek resolution of known critical gaps. CMOs often know about systemic problems, but lack resources to address them at the start of operational excellence efforts. Make sure to have a dedicated team working to resolve one or some of the known critical gaps so that investment in the pursuit has early payoffs.
  • Ensure that MarOps efforts don’t duplicate enterprise initiatives. Alignment with operational excellence pursuits in sales and service functions is always a good idea, but CMOs should avoid neglecting the enterprise-wide efforts of other functions such as finance and HR that may lighten marketing’s lift over time.

Marketers use just 42% of their ‘martech stack’ capabilities

Marketers report utilising just 42% of the breadth of capabilities available in their martech stack overall, down from 58% in 2020.

Gartner surveyed 324 marketers in May and June 2022 to determine the state of marketing technology acquisition, adoption and use.

“CMOs reported allocating a quarter of their entire marketing expense budgets to marketing technologies in 2022,” said Benjamin Bloom, VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.

“Despite turbulent budgets in previous years and current economic headwinds, tech investments are a priority for CMOs and proving their ROI is more crucial than ever,” Bloom said. “Yet the challenges associated with martech underutilization, such as new business models and disrupted customer journeys, are making it difficult for marketers to demonstrate technology’s value.”

The 16 percentage point drop in overall martech utilization in the past two years can be attributed to a significant amount of overlap among marketing technology solutions (30% of respondents), difficulty identifying and recruiting talent to drive adoption/utilization (28%), and complexity/sprawl of the marketing technology ecosystem (27%).

Martech Stacks Prepare for a Cookieless Future With New Adtech and Commerce Capabilities

One of the tools identified by survey respondents that support innovative marketing channels was social commerce, with 62% of respondents saying they have deployed, or plan to deploy, such technology (see Figure 1). Technology to support advertising execution and measurement in audio and streaming/connected TV (CTV) environments has also found a base of support, with 65% of respondents exploring or piloting associated technologies.

Figure 1. How Marketing Leaders Are Leveraging Technology to Support Emerging Activities (% of Respondents)

Source: Gartner (September 2022)

Marketers also indicated interest in commercial activity within more emerging technologies. This includes the metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with 62% exploring or piloting technology to support metaverse advertising and 59% exploring or piloting technology to enable creation of NFTs.

“The fact that marketers are already leveraging technology to support emerging activities underscores their desire to outfox the competition and get a head start on controlling their own destinies in a world of more fallible identifiers,” said Bloom.

To maximize the value of martech investments, Gartner recommends marketing leaders:

  • Infuse marketing technology adoption and utilization goals into team performance objectives to minimize wasted investments.
  • Manage the risk of expensive integrated suite investments. Establish alternatives to preserve negotiation leverage and persistently validate the vendor’s ability to support desired martech capabilities.
  • Review the approach to supporting customer journey orchestration with technology to ensure that martech and IT collaborate through capability-focused delivery teams using an iterative approach.
  • Avoid leaving investments in tools and technologies for social commerce, podcast advertising and CTV/over-the-top (OTT) streaming advertising to agencies or service providers by default. Pursue long-term in-house capability development around these tools and include them in their martech roadmap.

Marketing analytics are only influencing 53% of decisions

Marketing analytics are responsible for influencing just over half (53%) of marketing decisions, according to a survey by Gartner.

In May and June 2022, Gartner surveyed 377 users of marketing analytics to explore the role of marketing analytics in decision making.

“CMOs often believe that achieving marketing data integration goals will lead to greater influence and increased value of marketing analytics,” said Joseph Enever, Sr. Director Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “The reality is that better data won’t increase marketing analytics’ decision influence alone. CMOs must address the real challenges — cognitive biases and the need for a data-informed culture.”

The survey found that the quantity of marketing decisions that analytics influences does matter: Organizations that report marketing analytics influence fewer than 50% of decisions are more likely to agree that they are unable to prove the value of marketing. Once marketing analytics teams cross that 50% threshold, there are likely diminishing returns to striving to increase the quantity of decisions influenced.

“By 2023, Gartner expects 60% of CMOs will slash the size of their marketing analytics department in half because of failed promised improvements,” said Enever.

Top Barriers to Marketing Analytics’ Influence: Data Quality Challenges and Cognitive Biases

Consumers of marketing analytics continue to cite evergreen data management challenges as the top reason analytics are not used when making decisions. The challenges of “data are inconsistent across sources” and “data are difficult to access” rose to the top in this year’s survey.

Marketing organizations regularly respond to these challenges by integrating more data or acquiring different technology seen as a fix-all approach to marketing data management — yet they fail to realize tangible impacts on key outcomes. For example, marketers experience diminishing marginal returns on data integration when pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer.

Barriers to the use of marketing analytics in decision making are not always caused by data integration challenges unique to marketing — rather, much of this boils down to people and/or process problems.

For instance, key cognitive biases are at the root of marketing analytics’ influence plateau. One-third of respondents reported that decision makers cherry-pick data to try to tell a story that aligns with their preconceived decision or opinion.

In addition, roughly a quarter of respondents said that decision makers do not review the information provided by the marketing analytics team (26%), reject their recommendations (24%), or rely on gut instincts to ultimately make their choice (24%).

CMOs must address these challenges by:

  • Tracking the decisions that are made based on analytics to provide a current state of view and areas to improve. Identify examples of marketing analytics work that provided actionable recommendations to a marketing campaign or program. Marketing leaders should encourage their team to look for patterns in decision-making habits and to document the types of decisions they influence.
  • Combatting cherry-picking. Set KPIs and metrics before launching a new campaign or marketing strategy, not after the data has already started to come in.
  • Encouraging senior leaders to set an example. Avoid being a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) and actually allow data to inform, or change, decisions.
  • Establish analytics upskilling programs that account for differing workflows and resource constraints across the marketing organization. Build personas that detail how different employees need to use data in their roles and prioritize training sessions that best enable participants to learn the skills they need to perform their job.

Conversational AI will reduce contact centre agent staff costs by $80bn in 2026

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) deployments within contact centres will reduce agent staff costs by $80 billion by 2026, according to Gartner.

Furthermore, worldwide end-user spending on conversational AI solutions within contact centres is forecast to reach $1.99 billion in 2022.

“Gartner estimates that there are approximately 17 million contact center agents worldwide today,” said Daniel O’Connell, VP analyst at Gartner. “Many organizations are challenged by agent staff shortages and the need to curtail labor expenses, which can represent up to 95% of contact center costs. Conversational AI makes agents more efficient and effective, while also improving the customer experience.”

Gartner projects that one in 10 agent interactions will be automated by 2026, an increase from an estimated 1.6% of interactions today that are automated using AI. Conversational AI can automate all or part of a contact center customer interaction through both voice and digital channels, through voicebots or chatbots, and it is expected to have transformational benefits to customer service and support organizations within two years.

“While automating a full interaction – also known as call containment or deflection – corresponds to significant cost savings, there is also value in partial containment, such as automating the identification of a customer’s name, policy number and reason for calling. Capturing this information using AI could reduce up to a third of the interaction time that would typically be supported by a human agent,” said O’Connell.

While the benefits of conversational AI are compelling, the technology is still maturing. A fragmented vendor landscape and complexity of deployments will result in measured adoption through the next two years.

“Implementing conversational AI requires expensive professional resources in areas such as data analytics, knowledge graphs and natural language understanding,” said O’Connell. “Once built, the conversational AI capabilities must be continuously supported, updated and maintained, resulting in additional costs.”

Complex, large-scale conversational AI deployments can take multiple years as more call flows are built out and existing call flows are fine-tuned for improvement. Gartner estimates integration pricing at $1,000 to $1,500 per conversational AI agent, though some organizations cite costs of up to $2,000 per agent. Therefore, early adoption of conversational AI will be primarily led by organizations with 2,500 or more agents with budget for the requisite technical resources.

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