Blog post

Yes, CMOs Will Likely Spend More on Technology than CIOs by 2017

By Jake Sorofman | September 20, 2016 | 2 Comments

digital marketing

By 2017, CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs.

This now-famous prediction was made several years ago by my former Gartner colleague Laura McLellan.

At the time, it was polarizing, to say the least. Depending on who you asked, it was either highly provocative or wholly outrageous. And, according to our latest research, probably right on target!

Gartner’s soon-to-be-published annual CMO spend survey suggests that, for 2016, CMOs allocated 3.24% of revenue to technology spending, which is very close indeed to the 3.4% of revenue CIOs earmark for IT.

This is an important finding.

It suggests that marketing technology, once a relatively narrow and specialized adjunct to enterprise IT, is now garnering investment nearly equivalent to the core systems that run the business.

Why? Because marketing technology is now among these core systems. Customer preferences and behaviors have changed and buying journeys are increasingly self-directed and digitally led. Which means that, more than ever, multichannel marketing is among the most critical customer-facing, revenue-generating functions.

Today, most CMOs own or share P&L responsibility. Many CMOs are responsible for a digital commerce channel. And while customer experience very much remains a team sport, marketing often funds these cross-functional CX initiatives, sets the strategy, and designs the desired-state experience itself—and, in many organizations, owns and controls a growing preponderance of customer touchpoints.

This isn’t meant to be about marketing exceptionalism. And I’m not trying to make the case for how marketing technology will eat enterprise IT. That’s not the point.

The point is that as growth continues to be the top mandate and customer experience emerges as the competitive battlefield, CMOs are taking on ever more responsibility. And as digital marketing becomes marketing in a digital world, technology is woven into virtually every planning assumption.

All of this is driving more and more spending on marketing technology as the engine for driving profitable growth.

More detail on this survey will be available in a few weeks. In the meantime, if you’re a Gartner for Marketing Leaders client, we want to talk to you. Feel free to schedule an inquiry to dig into the data!

Oh, and a shout out to our former Gartner colleague Laura McLellan, hopefully happily ensconced in her hard-earned, well-deserved retirement. Laura, looks like you called it right!

As if there were ever any doubt.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Comments are closed


  • Hi Jake – thanks for the post! As marketers move towards more investments in marketing technology, it will be interesting to see how those marketers can “humanize” the output of those technologies to connect with real people. Given 50% of population is under 34 and they are demanding authenticity, marketers will be challenged to deliver what the new consumer is looking for. I’m looking forward to continuing to read the Gartner Blog for more great thought leadership in this area. And congrats to Laura!

  • Jake, I agree to you post. I will suggest a small change to title may be”Yes, CMOs Will Likely Spend More on Business Technology than CIOs by 2017″

    That maybe true for companies where there is more and more culture for shadow IT, but in future I personally believe CMO will work more and more closely with CTO/CIO. There will be projects that today #MarTech thinks are only in Marketing control but they are better with CTO e.g. any project related to data etc. If MarTech space is growing so are the other areas that fall under CTO are growing like BigData, IoT, BYOD etc.. I look forward to your CMO report.