Sixty percent of marketing organisations have centralised some or all of their functions, according to a survey by Gartner.

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) cited operational excellence issues — such as prioritization, workflows and collaboration — as the primary reasons for making changes to their organizational structures.

Gartner surveyed more than 380 marketing and communications leaders in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the UK from November through December 2021, to explore both the marketing and communications team’s function design, and its relation to other functions in the organisation and to external partners.

The findings show that the pace of centralisation has quickened in comparison to previous years, with CMOs significantly shifting their organisations in the last year to centralised structures, with 37% fully centralised and 23% mostly centralised.

“CMOs may be lured by the promise of greater control and economies of scale that centralisation offers, but each structure brings with it a set of benefits and drawbacks,” says Sally Witzky, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “CMOs must place organisational decisions in the strategic context, making trade-offs based on restructuring objectives, capability gaps and cultural realities.”

The survey findings also show a slight distinction between B2B and B2C marketing organisations. While B2B marketing organisations favour and utilise a balanced or hybrid structure approach, B2C organisations are primarily centralised. In fact, CMOs in B2C organisations doubled-down on a “fully” centralised structure over “mostly” centralised.

“This is because B2C organisations are primarily consumer-driven,” says Witzky. “They tend to work with and depend upon a roster of external agencies for the brand or individual brands, and as a result tend to have a more centralised marketing.

“However, B2B organisations are embracing a new emphasis on buyer centricity and are changing their marketing organisation structures to gain some centralised control and process.”

Gartner experts say CMOs should consider whether it’s easier to centralise some of the marketing work that is decentralised or mine those decentralized areas for waste, inefficiencies, duplication and individuals or small teams who work in silos — then make changes accordingly. To successfully facilitate this, Gartner recommends the following steps:

  1. Gauge stakeholder understanding of problems and openness to change– Understand how stakeholders feel about the problems that are necessitating a marketing restructure and get buy-in.
  2. Diagnose the need to restructure and identify priorities– Clarify the vision and goal(s) of the restructure, along with the structure priorities they’ll follow to reach them.
  3. Design the best-fit marketing organization– Conduct a design workshop to map out the new marketing organization structure that best fulfills the reorg vision and goals, while remaining grounded in how work actually happens.
  4. Announce the plan and prepare for the change– Prepare to deliver a presentation highlighting change drivers, restructure objectives and the proposed marketing structure, and discuss rollout objectives with all affected parties.
  5. Monitor rollout and collect feedback– Build in feedback loops to identify unexpected areas of friction in the new structure, and make team-level interventions to address them.