B2B TECH THOUGHT LEADERSHIP STUDY

2024 State of
Thought Leadership

Discover the key trends, challenges, and untapped potential shaping the future of B2B tech thought leadership. Our data-driven insights provide a comprehensive understanding of the forces influencing the industry in 2024 and beyond.

Break Free.

Rise Above.

Shape the Future.

An In-Depth Industry Survey
on B2B Tech Thought Leadership

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B2B Marketing Leaders

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Key Findings

We saw a critical gap: the tech industry lacked the kind of data-driven analysis needed to evaluate its thought leadership programs. Our in-depth survey addresses this need, covering important topics like program effectiveness, leadership support, organizational issues, the lead gen trap, and the impact of Generative AI.

We’ve distilled these insights into actionable strategies, allowing you to benchmark your own programs, overcome challenges, and elevate your thought leadership to achieve long-term success.

Let's Get Started

(Warning: it’s a lot of data, but keep going)

Is Thought Leadership Broken?
Only 44% Achieve Success.

Only 44% of programs are deemed “very effective,” exposing a significant gap between ambition and impact.

Our research further highlights a critical link between leadership support and the effectiveness of thought leadership initiatives. Programs backed by leaders who truly value and understand thought leadership’s strategic role are significantly more likely to achieve meaningful results.

How would you rate the overall effectiveness of your current thought leadership program?
Very Effective
0%
Somewhat Effective
0%
Neutral
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Somewhat Ineffective
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Very Ineffective
0%
To what extent is thought leadership is valued by leadership in your organization?
Highly Valued and Well-Understood
0%
Somewhat Valued and Understood
0%
Neutral
0%
Somewhat Undervalued and Misunderstood
0%
Highly Undervalued and Misunderstood
0%

The report defines "very effective" and "somewhat effective" to help you benchmark your own programs.

Navigating the Minefield

While internal conflict is inevitable, our data shows that companies are finding ways to mitigate it. Strategies include using data to support decisions (47%), fostering open communication (42%), and establishing clear guidelines (39%).

However, in some cases, organizations must be prepared to escalate the issue and seek executive intervention (26%) or even engage neutral third-party consultants (23%).

Running Interference:
When Leadership Is the Obstacle

Our research exposes a systemic problem: strategic misalignment across the C-suite – from founders and CEOs, to CTOs, Chief Revenue Officers, and even Chief Financial Officers – are major roadblocks to thought leadership success.

56% of respondents report that leadership interference hinders progress.

This manifests in harmful ways: a relentless push for short-term growth at any cost, a misunderstanding of thought leadership’s long-term value, and a general pattern of derailing marketing and PR/communications campaigns. These actions foster a culture of reactivity, eroding trust and transparency. In these cases, systemic organizational change is imperative.

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state that internal politics hinders the development and execution of thought leadership initiatives.

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of respondents state that it's challenging to balance thought leadership with other marketing efforts.

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say a big challenge is getting executive support for innovative or unconventional ideas.

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say leadership has a lack of understanding of thought leadership's role

Our findings expose a pervasive problem: thought leadership is too often hijacked by an overemphasis on demand gen.

This short-sighted approach undermines strategic impact and squanders the immense potential of thought leadership campaigns to drive innovation and industry-wide influence.

Enough. Bullshit. Already.

The Clickbait Plague

We don’t have to look far to find a litany of clickbait flooding the internet and social media feeds. The pervasive use of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is being exposed for what it is – a distraction that cheapens the industry and erodes audience trust.

Beyond Bad Content

Over-rotating on lead gen could be indicative of a deeper systemic issue: a fundamental misunderstanding of long-term value creation, and the misguided belief that true influence can be bought through shortcuts.

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believe there's a need for more substantial, thought-provoking content.

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believe that prioritizing content production primarily for lead generation can undermine the strategic depth and impact of thought leadership.

Our data reveals that marketing leaders prioritize the following to stand out in highly competitive markets: high-quality research (50%), a strong brand identity (44%), and unique perspectives (41%).

These are not “nice to haves”; they are the foundational pillars that build trust, establish authority, and position organizations as true thought leaders.

Newsflash: The 'Basics' Still Matter

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prioritize high-quality research in their thought leadership programs.

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unique perspectives are paramount to building and maintaining thought leadership.

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branding still remains high on the list of being an important aspect to building thought leadership.

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tailoring content to specific audience segments.

AI-Powered Content:
Innovation or Intellectual Bankruptcy?

Generative AI tools like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's Gemini could revolutionize - or destroy - content creation. While the promise of efficiency and scale is tempting, AI's role in thought leadership raises critical questions about authenticity, depth, and the long-term consequences for the tech industry.

Only 10% of organizations do NOT utilize generative AI tools, underscoring their rapid adoption. However, excitement over AI’s potential is countered by deep ethical concerns, with authenticity topping the list at 43%.

The question of whether AI-generated content can maintain the integrity essential for thought leadership sparks fierce debate, with only 29% believing it can. Striking the right balance between harnessing AI’s transformative power and upholding ethical standards will be the defining challenge for the industry in the years ahead.

Moment of "Truth"?

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Authenticity: Nearly half of organizations worry that AI-generated content threatens the fundamental integrity that true thought leadership relies upon.

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Belief in AI Authenticity: only 29% believe AI can fully preserve the authenticity essential for impactful thought leadership.

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Data Privacy: AI for content creation raises serious concerns about how sensitive data is collected and utilized, impacting trust and regulatory compliance.

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Accuracy: A significant portion fear that AI-generated content could be factually inaccurate, undermining trust and the industry's reputation for reliable insights.

The Future Imperative:
Evolve or Become Obsolete

The Tech industry stands at a pivotal moment. Those who embrace the challenges of differentiation, technological fluency, and audience-centricity will define the future of their industry. Proactive strategies are the key to seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

The Trends Shaping the Future

Advances in AI and machine learning are poised to disrupt thought leadership (69%). Shifts in consumer behavior (56%) demand greater personalization and audience insight. Companies must balance cutting-edge technology with a deep understanding of their target audience to remain at the forefront of thought leadership.

Proactive Strategies for Success

B2B tech companies are proactively responding to these changes. Top strategies include monitoring trends (46%), investing in AI and other emerging technologies (36%), fostering adaptability (33%), and experimenting with new content formats (36%). This multifaceted approach reflects the need for continuous evolution to maintain a thought leadership edge.

Thought Leadership 2030:
How Are You Preparing?

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believe advances in AI and machine learning will most significantly impact thought leadership in the next five years.

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of companies prioritize monitoring industry trends and competitor strategies in preparation for potential shifts in thought leadership approaches.

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view shifts in consumer behavior and preferences as a major force shaping the future of thought leadership.

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of organizations proactively invest in new technologies, including AI and analytics tools, to enhance their thought leadership initiatives.

Meet the Report Author

About Jessica Marie

Jessica is passionate about leveraging technology for positive change. Through her research, she uncovers barriers to effective thought leadership in the industry, striving to enhance its strategic importance.

Believing in authentic storytelling, Jessica draws on her diverse background in technology, the arts, and human potential. She encourages us to rethink conventional wisdom and embrace deeper, more meaningful narratives.

Jessica sees thought leadership as a tool for driving real change, inspiring actions that align with technology’s broader societal purpose.