CMOs urged to prove their worth or risk being sidelined

tech 2Marketing chiefs face a make or break 12 months which is likely to determine whether they sit at the top table of business strategy or become increasingly sidelined, as executives from other departments ride the new wave of disruptive technology.

That is the stark warning to emerge from a new Gartner report, which maintains that CMOs must tackle three key priorities for the coming year – including building the right mix of personnel to create AI-enabled teams, promoting the discipline’s value and pushing its collaborative benefits – or risk becoming obsolete.

Firstly, with executive leaders exploring emerging technologies and other commercially-critical innovations, the report maintains that marketers’ skills must match new tools to execute the highest-leverage work.

Gartner argues that, with GenAI skills still in their infancy heading into 2024, CMOs risk prioritising the wrong mix of abilities as they continue to emphasise “hard” data skills, such as coding, more than “soft” data skills, such as analytical thinking.

A Gartner survey of 407 cross-functional leaders (including 329 marketing leaders) conducted earlier this year found that only 8% of leaders are not planning to use GenAI, and 73% are currently piloting or using GenAI. With this pivot in plans also comes a pivot in team structure.

Gartner Marketing practice vice president of research Sharon Cantor Ceurvorst said: “With the introduction of GenAI, CMOs’ talent plans are at a crossroads; they must look to adapt and realign roles, or risk teams becoming obsolete.

“If the latter were to occur, CMOs risk losing influence over those plans. In anticipation of this, they must have an answer that blends the best of both technology and human capabilities.”

The second priority for CMOs, according to Garter, is to defend the value of marketing and the discipline’s crucial role in the evolving business landscape, especially given that over 40% of non-marketing executives feel marketing engages where its presence is unnecessary.

Gartner Marketing practice chief of research and VP analyst Ewan McIntyre explained: “As marketing continues to lose ownership of marketing technology activities, such as technology acquisition, configuration and management, marketing leaders must adjust before the power dynamic is permanently shifted.

“CMOs must leverage their skills to communicate a vision of the power of customer engagement strategies to support long-term growth.”

Finally, as companies rethink their business models in light of tech disruption, CMOs need to focus on how marketing delivers value by building business-wide alignment on new customer growth strategies.

Cantor Ceurvorst concluded: “CMOs must apply their strategic influence to scale marketing’s commercial impact and drive profitability. Because no function drives growth in isolation, CMOs must help guide the enterprise toward a new era of collaborative customer success through a compelling and clearly understood strategic narrative.

“Our survey data shows that progress on this journey won’t necessarily be stymied by technology, but by people getting in their own way. What’s required is a new form of collaboration that cascades productively across teams.”

Related stories
CMOs ‘must educate CEOs on true value of marketing’
CMOs back bosses to secure future of their companies
Only loved up CMOs and CIOs make martech flourish
Brands bolster attack and defence as promotions fall
Agencies ‘falling short’ on agility, AI, speed and diversity
Data and tech turn CMOs into CEOs of customer growth
Ad industry using ChatGPT more than any other sector
Generative AI ‘now essential part of marketer’s toolkit’

Print Friendly