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STAMFORD, Conn., November 11, 2019

Gartner Reveals the Top Three Barriers to Innovation in Marketing

Marketing Leaders Report They Struggle With Risk-Averse Corporate Cultures, Measurement and Talent

Despite commanding 16% of marketing budgets and maturing as a core discipline, significant challenges remain for marketing innovation execution and effectiveness, according to Gartner, Inc. The Gartner Brand Strategy and Innovation Survey 2019* report shows the top three barriers to marketing innovation are risk-aversion, an inability to measure impact and limited talent (see Figure 1).

“The nature of true innovation is newness, and this takes people out of their comfort zone,” said Elizabeth Shaw, senior research director in the Gartner for Marketers Practice. “Even though senior executives demand innovation, they are reluctant to move forward when the time comes to act.”

Figure 1. Top Barriers Marketers Face Around Innovation

Source: Gartner (November 2019)

Another perennial issue with the newness of innovation is measurement. It is challenging to measure innovation initiatives without first knowing what success looks like. However, measurement is necessary; otherwise, innovation efforts can be deemed of no value to the organization. Marketers managing innovation must be savvy communicators with key stakeholders to manage expectations around innovation programs and outcomes.

Many marketing leaders also express difficulties in finding the right talent for innovation. While the “chief innovation officer” title and corporate innovation labs have been on the rise, many marketers are still working to upskill themselves for these roles.

“Driving innovation requires a depth and breadth of skills beyond what exists in many marketing organizations,” said Ms. Shaw. “Although many marketers are taking training programs and gaining certifications through online courses to gain an edge in today’s hypercompetitive job market, hiring managers must ensure hiring and upskilling priorities align with their organization’s strategic innovation needs.”

To overcome these barriers, marketing leaders responsible for leading and supporting innovation should:

  • Crawl, Walk, Run: Combat resistance to risk by using a “crawl, walk, run” approach. In the crawl phase, use tactics such as asking users or customers for ideas, partner with external technology service providers and create a business case for an innovation. This will give momentum and help build the foundation needed to successfully graduate to the maturity and pace of the “walk” and “run” phases.
  • Focus on Three Measurements: Overcome measurement hurdles by measuring in three areas: innovation culture (e.g., pulse surveys, employee participation), innovation process (e.g., agility, efficiency) and innovation outcomes (e.g., number of prototypes and pilots). Always separate the metrics for culture and process from the innovations themselves. When possible, use regular business measures to quantify innovation outcomes.
  • Upskill and Prioritize Training: Actively upskill talent and prioritize innovation skills in new recruits. Team members should be provided opportunities for specific innovation and leadership skills, creating a future-ready culture and the expectation of ongoing professional development.

Additional details on the survey findings will be presented during the 2019 Innovation Survey: 6 Key Findings from CMOs webinar at 9 a.m. ET on November 14, 2019. The full report is available to Gartner for Marketers clients here: Innovation Survey 2019: Marketers Lead Innovation but Face Risks and Talent Challenges.

*For Editors:

Gartner 2019 CMO Brand Strategy and Innovation Survey was conducted from May 2019 through July 2019 among 393 respondents in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Respondents were required to have involvement in decisions pertaining to setting or influencing marketing strategy and planning. All respondents were from companies with $500 million or more in annual revenue. The respondents came from a variety of industries: financial services, high tech, manufacturing, consumer products, media, retail, healthcare providers, and travel and hospitality.

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo gives marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Gartner for Marketers analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges and priorities that marketers face today, including data and analytics, customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Additional information is available at www.gartner.com/en/conferences/na/marketing-symposium-us. Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at www.gartner.com/marketing.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 14,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.

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