Gartner Research

How and When to Use a Center of Excellence

Published: 28 June 2016

ID: G00294055

Analyst(s): Ewan McIntyre , Kirsten Newbold-Knipp


The term COE is often misused by marketing leaders referring to any centrally organized function. Understand what a COE is and how and when it can be used to deliver oversight, consistency and empowerment to accelerate maturity of a marketing capability.

Table Of Contents


  • What Is a COE?
  • Prevalence of COEs
  • When Is a COE Not a COE?
    • Shared Services
    • Governing Councils
    • Cross-Functional Teams
    • Centers of Emergency
  • What Do COEs Do Well?
  • Should Organizations Build a Dedicated Digital COE?
  • How and When to Use a COE
  • What to Do Next

Gartner Recommended Reading

©2020 Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner’s prior written permission. It consists of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization, which should not be construed as statements of fact. While the information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner research may address legal and financial issues, Gartner does not provide legal or investment advice and its research should not be construed or used as such. Your access and use of this publication are governed by Gartner’s Usage Policy. Gartner prides itself on its reputation for independence and objectivity. Its research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from any third party. For further information, see Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity.

Already have a Gartner Account?

Become a client

Learn how to access this content as a Gartner client.