According to CIO.com, new research from Gartner reveals that marketing departments are on pace to spend more on technology in 2017 than CIOs. This highlights the critical role technology will play in the marketing sector and illustrates just how crucial it is to manage marketing budgets strategically.

The results of the Gartner annual CMO Spend Survey show that in 2016, CMOs invested an amount equivalent to 3.24 percent of revenue on technology, with CIOs spending 3.4 percent of company revenue — and the gap will likely close by next year. According to Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman, “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.”

Addressing Customers’ Growing Reliance on Digital Technology

In recent years, the way consumers shop has changed dramatically, with the digital aspect of the buying journey now a critical component. From researching products and services online, to completing those transactions digitally, marketing technology is critical for all types of business, from hospitality to retail. It’s therefore crucial that all companies seeking to capitalize on this shift allocate a sufficient slice of their budgets to creating a multichannel approach to marketing, which Sorofman says is “now among the most critical customer-facing, revenue-generating functions” of businesses.

The increase in the demand for marketing technology is reflected by the dramatic increase in the number of solutions. According to Scott Brinker’s 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, there are 3,874 technology solutions on the market — and as Brinker admits, there are surely some omissions from this list. To put that into context, back in 2011, when Brinker first published the graphic, there were around 150 marketing technology solutions.

As executives seek to find the best solution for their needs, having too many choices can become a problem. The explosion in innovation has put a lot more options on the table, but for CMOs at small- and medium-sized companies, this can led to confusion rather than improved productivity. Trying to keep pace with all the new and updated products in the marketing technology sector is a full-time job in itself.

Understanding customers and their decisions is fast becoming a vital way to grow revenue, and the responsibility for getting that right is increasingly falling to the CMO. In the coming years, as marketing budgets continue to increase to facilitate the explosion of marketing technology, the pressure to understand the new technology, implement it and ensure that it drives revenue growth, will also fall on the shoulders of the CMO.

Examples of disruptive technology spurring innovation can be found in the FinTech industry, where mobile-centric finance companies are giving consumers a new set of options.