Marketing departments are set to ramp up technology spending in 2015, but the IT to support digital initiatives may be coming from outside traditional IT.
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Of the 211 companies with revenue greater than $1bn that Gartner surveyed as part of its CMO Spend Survey 2015 report, customer experience was the top technology investment.
The survey found 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016, rising from 36% in 2012.
Companies with revenue between $500m and $1bn chose marketing analytics, marketing operations and their websites more than customer experience.
For B2B companies, marketing analytics and marketing operations technology investments ranked higher than customer experience, according to Gartner.
"The amount of the marketing expense budget spent on customer experience in 2014 is remarkably consistent across all key survey demographics, averaging 18%," said Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner.
"The survey also found that the highest marketing technology investment in 2014 is for customer experience. Customer experience is also considered by many companies to be the top innovation project, just edging out product innovation."
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All of this should be good news for the CIO. But Gartner found that, while marketing budgets were increasing, other departments’ budgets were being cut.
Reductions in the sales budget – because the customer buying journey has changed and digital marketing activities replace some activities previously performed by sales – were reported by 55% of respondents this year, compared with 22% last year.
Gartner did not look at any software or IT infrastructure spending to support marketing activities.
But other research has shown that marketing does its own IT. The CIO-CMO disconnect report from Accenture said that CMOs are beginning to see alternative ways to buy technology capabilities wrapped by services, such as partnering with outside suppliers rather than with the CIO.
In fact, Gartner found that 32% of the companies it surveyed reported innovation investments in 2015, suggesting marketers are turning to startups to drive innovative IT.