New Survey Finds Most Marketers Concerned About Technology Replacing Jobs; A Survey of CMOs Indicates Their Concerns May Be Well-Founded

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Despite the rapid adoption of GenAI, with 47% of marketers already using it, many are concerned about technology replacing jobs in their industry. A new survey from Gartner, Inc. found that 89% of marketers are concerned about layoffs at their company.

The source of their concern is technology, largely GenAI replacing jobs. 87% of marketers are concerned that technology will replace their jobs. Considering that another recent Gartner study, done in late 2023, found that more than one-quarter of marketing leaders surveyed plan on doing layoffs in late 2024, largely due to GenAI, tells us that marketers’ concerns may be well-founded.

More Than Half of Marketers Report Mismatched Job Expectations

While the majority of marketers surveyed are optimistic about their career progression and skill preparedness, more than half (55%) report experiencing mismatched job expectations in their present roles.

Half of Marketers Find Martech Complicated and Difficult to Use. Two-thirds Find That Martech Learning Takes Time Away from Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Despite most marketers feeling positive about their career growth and skill readiness, over half (55%) find that their job expectations don’t match their current roles. This is further complicated by changes in their work environment and the added stress from marketing technology, with 61% of marketers having experienced a change in technology or process in the past year. Additionally, 20% have seen recent changes in senior marketing leadership.

Iliyana Hadjistoyanova, Director, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing Practice, warns that these issues could lead to burnout and higher turnover rates. She advises Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to refocus their talent strategies, emphasizing upskilling and change management to prepare for ongoing disruptions. “These findings should be a red flag for CMOs, as high environmental uncertainty, mismatched role expectations and martech burden can lead to burnout as well as increased attrition,” said Hadjistoyanova. “CMOs must refocus their talent strategy and prioritize development with a strong focus on upskilling and change management to ensure their function is prepared in the face of ongoing disruption.”

Further findings from Gartner surveys reveal:

  • Half of the marketers find marketing technology (martech) complex and hard to use, and two-thirds feel learning it takes time away from their regular duties.
  • A survey conducted between May and June 2023 involving 405 martech leaders found that 63% believe marketing lacks the technical skills needed to effectively integrate and operate some technologies in their stack.

Hadjistoyanova suggests that CMOs should work closely with their martech leaders to create talent development plans that address these skill gaps. She emphasizes that martech investments directly affect the employee experience and CMOs need to consider these costs and benefits.

Nearly Half of Marketers are Using GenAI; But Another Recent Gartner Study Found That 26% of Marketing Leaders Plan on Reducing Staff in 2024 Due to GenAI

Despite the rapid adoption of GenAI, with 47% of marketers already using it, many are concerned about technology replacing jobs in their industry. A Gartner survey conducted between September and November 2023 involving 822 business executives revealed that 26% of marketing leaders plan to reduce staff numbers due to GenAI in 2024.

Hadjistoyanova advises CMOs to develop comprehensive talent plans that include the use of GenAI and aim to increase skill readiness. This can help mitigate its impacts on employees’ well-being, leading to better engagement and retention. These plans should address role transition, employee learning, and changes in technology and processes related to GenAI adoption.

Marketers with Greater GenAI Use are 30% Less Likely to Report High Burnout, and 40% Less Likely to Intend to Leave Their Jobs in the Next Year

Interestingly, marketers who use GenAI more are 30% less likely to report high burnout, and 40% less likely to plan to leave their jobs in the next year.

Lessons for Marketing Leadership

Hadjistoyanova finds lessons to be learned by marketing leadership and urges CMOs to manage change early, clearly, and transparently to ensure employee buy-in and minimize any negative impacts of change. “Marketing’s use of technology is constantly adapting, and the accelerated adoption of GenAI will encourage greater performance and engagement, enhance creativity, as well as free up time and allow marketers to engage in more thought-intensive work,” said Hadjistoyanova. “While CMOs cannot fully insulate their employees from change, they must take early action in change management in a clear and transparent manner to ensure employee buy-in and mitigate any negative impacts of change.”

Gartner clients can learn more in the report: “AI Opportunity Amid Talent Turmoil: 2023 Marketing Talent Survey.”

Our Take

The findings of the survey warrant action by effective marketing leaders. Marketing, and the business world at large — even society at large — are in the midst of a time of great and unprecedented technological change. GenAI use is only in the early stages in the marketing department, and we’re only beginning to understand the optimal ways it can be used to enhance services, processes, analysis and more. No one has a crystal ball, and it’s unlikely to completely eliminate feelings of concern and uncertainty — because some of those concerns and uncertainty are completely reasonable. The stress created by the new responsibilities for learning and managing new martech technologies also must be assessed and perhaps, adjustments made. This is a time of change in the marketing field. That means what applied to managing a marketing department 5 years ago may not be the same today. The high rates of burnout and turnover in the marketing department are realities that necessitate being addressed. Wise marketing leaders need to carefully review not only the processes and technologies being used in the marketing department but also assess how their staff feels about these changes, the current workload, and the level of morale and not wait until employees are burnt out or important staff have begun to resign. The well-being of the marketing staff should be imperative in this time of change and uncertainty. While the uncertainty may not be able to be taken away, much can be done to lessen the stress of the marketing staff. Research like this Gartner study should raise a red flag for effective marketing leaders.


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