Gartner: Three key themes to drive marketing this year

data 31In 2024, CMOs continue to deal with disruptive forces from both inside and outside the enterprise. The most successful CMOs do more than withstand disruption; they lean into it and direct the forces impacting their marketing function. When planning ahead, CMOs should focus on three key themes to ensure that their strategies harness the positive potential of disruption.

Build AI-enabled marketing teams
The rise of GenAI has brought a narrative of, at best, role realignment — and at worst, role reduction. CMOs must confront the reality that marketing organisations will need to change in fundamental ways so that marketer skills can be augmented with AI power.

Successful AI adoption revolves around talent strategy. Too often, CMOs consider strategic decisions regarding talent as distinct from their martech strategies. But capabilities are a combination of the people, processes and technologies that power them, and marketing value is created at the intersection of human and artificial intelligence. Assess the relative volume of demand for capabilities, and map the volume against the potential for role disruption based on AI investments and developments:

  • First, examine how demand for specific marketing outputs is projected to change based on AI’s impact on your enterprise business strategy.
  • Next, anticipate the degree of disruption to the roles responsible for those marketing outputs, based on your future vision for how AI will be applied.

Taken together, you end up with a nuanced view of how roles will be impacted, and the actions leaders will need to take to prepare.

Recast marketing’s value for an evolving enterprise
The marketing function was a leading voice during early digital transformation. However, marketing’s role in technology is diminishing and many CMOs have seen a decline in enterprise understanding of the power and value of marketing.

Marketing’s enterprise value is a matter of perception that is continually negotiated with the business. In 2024, CMOs must renegotiate marketing’s value proposition, leveraging their skills to communicate a vision of the power of customer engagement models, driving business-wide alignment and supporting long-term growth.

This means going beyond simple measures of return on marketing investments. Building a compelling strategic narrative is imperative. Brand strategy, in particular, can become a powerful bridge to enterprise strategy and the long-term health of the business. Successful CMOs elevate the value of marketing by helping other leaders understand their role in the business and market. The key is discipline: resisting scattershot activity and creating fewer, but more meaningful, customer experiences.

Orchestrate profitable growth across functions
Innovative technologies create the potential for entirely new revenue streams and business models, which depend on cross-functional collaboration to succeed. However, 78% of enterprise leaders report high levels of collaboration drag – burdensome and dysfunctional collaboration that limits critical growth initiatives.

Leaders should assess how much drag they experience when working cross-functionally, including volume of internal meetings and colleague feedback and how long it takes to make decisions. According to Gartner research, companies where leaders experience high collaboration drag are 37% less likely to exceed revenue and profit targets.

In a time of rapid transformation, CMOs can no longer afford to see cross-functional collaboration drag as a cost of doing business. A new form of collaboration is required. Just under one-third of CMOs empower their teams to make decisions, with guidance (but not control) from senior executives, and allow teams to independently adjust processes and ways of working to ensure effective collaboration. To help the marketing team overcome organisational barriers to digital growth, CMOs must:

  • Identify marketing workflow changes that will help overcome the cultural and process impediments to empowered collaboration.
  • Equip marketers with tools and skills to navigate organizational complexity.

By focusing on three major themes impacting the marketing function, CMOs can harness disruption and build successful strategies for 2024.

Sharon Cantor Ceurvorst is VP, Research and Ewan McIntyre is VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing Practice. The 2024 Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo is taking place in London and Denver


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