Despite years of mounting pressure within many marketing organizations between centralizing or decentralizing resources, a rapidly growing number of marketing leaders now prefer the centralized approach, according to Gartner, Inc. In fact, the Gartner Marketing Organization Survey 2020 of over 400 marketing leaders shows that nearly two-thirds of marketing teams are either fully or primarily centralized.
“Marketing leaders have long been chasing the ‘perfect’ marketing organizational structure, hoping that the right one will help them realize greater value and scale from their organizations,” said Chris Ross, vice president analyst in Gartner’s Marketing practice. “To achieve this, we are seeing a growing number of marketing organizations centralizing resources into more scalable shared services to provide support for a well-defined marketing discipline.”
Resources that may have been decentralized to regions or other organizational entities are also being consolidated and centralized. This is consistent with findings from the CMO Spend Survey 2020 that show 79% of CMOs are no longer looking to new products and services, but rather existing markets to fuel future growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This reallocation of resources is contributing to fully centralized models where all marketing staff operate as a centralized entity or primarily centralized models where most marketing staff are centralized with limited staff distributed to regions or business units. Gartner research also shows that marketing organizations with a marketing operations leader are more likely to have a fully centralized structure (35%) versus those without a marketing operations leader (23%).
“The organizational commitment to placing a marketing operations leader indicates a meaningful investment in the marketing operations function,” said Mr. Ross. “Marketing operations teams frequently operate in a shared services model, creating a natural gravitational pull toward a more centralized organizational alignment. Benefits of this alignment include greater efficiency and effectiveness, improvements in marketing governance and control, and the ability to easily manage brand, messaging and customer touch strategy.”
Gartner recommends that marketing leaders looking to adopt a centralized structure take the following actions:
- Pursue the effectiveness and scale of a more centralized organization. Evaluate the current state of their organization and where it falls on a centralization continuum. If the organization is more decentralized, identify explicitly why a decentralized structure is justified and begin work to evaluate where there are opportunities for greater centralization.
- Explore current organizational evolution and resource patterns that may be organically driving centralization. This may include the creation of shared service or center of excellence teams that serve the organization more broadly. Leveraging existing organizational momentum toward centralization can ease the transition from a decentralized model.
- Assess the marketing governance and control risks to the business based on the organization’s current model. More decentralized models where more entities and individuals have greater autonomy can also create additional organizational risk.
The full report is available to Gartner for Marketers clients here: “Marketing Organization Survey 2020: The Evolution to Centralized, Functional and Agile Continues.”
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