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At The Intersection of MarTech Present and Future

By Anne Wagner

In revealing the 2020 version of his highly anticipated Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic this past April, Scott Brinker discussed the challenge of its actual design given yet another year of spectacular “new venture creation.” Finding it impossible and ultimately counterproductive to crowbar what is now 8,000 MarTech solutions into category boxes of the right angle variety, his design collaborators at Blue Green instead allowed the defined clusters of category logos to determine visual boundary shape. 

Consumer needs can also be said to have clustered into vastly different representative shapes, or perhaps better said into profiles, owing to the extraordinary circumstances of present-day life. Accordingly as they deftly identified a series of practical considerations impacting corporate investment in MarTech solutions, our panelist contributors first acknowledged The Consumer as the most important driver behind MarTech partnership evaluation, the catalyst behind an organization’s future MarTech stack and the shape it assumes. 

In an exciting collaboration, AMA New York joined AMA Austin, AMA Triangle, and AMA Washington DC to host The Future of MarTech Panel on September 3rd, the first of three planned events focusing on specific industries. The panel was expertly moderated by Scott Brinker, creator of the now iconic Supergraphic, VP, Platform Ecosystem of Hubspot, and Program Chair, MarTech, and Editor of chiefmartech.com. Also generously contributing their time and collective knowledge for over 150 virtual attendees, were Joe Rizzo, CEO of marteq.io; Tim Hughes, noted author, CEO and Co-Founder of DLA Ignite; and Samuel Itin, VP, Analytics & Marketing Technology of AMA Triangle, and Optimization & Analytics Manager of Cognetik.

It would be especially useful in 2020 to possess the supernatural talents of a clairvoyant. Predicting the future can be risky business to engage in, made all the more challenging by our present-day Covid-19 crisis impacting virtually every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Has the pandemic, however, specifically impacted the MarTech industry? Scott asked what the panelists are seeing now and how changes might play out moving forward. 

Interestingly, Joe Rizzo noted that despite cash-saving budget cuts, he’s seen little change in MarTech presently. It will be a potential second wave, which he cautions must be prepared for, that will surely see more aggressive changes brought about by CFO-driven evaluations. It will be essential, therefore, to revisit KPIs in concert with ROI to line up justification for MarTech expenditures.

Tim Hughes asserts that we will continue to live online, citing as one example the acceleration of online buying to the tune of ten years worth occurring in three months because of Covid…“and that’s going to make a massive change to the way that MarTech 

has to reach out and have conversations with people.” From the current release of the respected Edelman Trust Barometer, seven out of ten consumers are in search of trust in brands and relationships with them. In a b2b sense, Tim suggests that businesses are also looking to build relationships with their MarTech partners, seeking trusted advice from them in order to create deeper connections with their customers.

Sam Itin sees amplification of trends emerging prior to the crisis, with companies that were at varying stages of digital exploration now thrust into an accelerated MarTech adoption timeline in order to reach and engage with customers who are living far more of their lives online. This scramble to invest in digital tools must again be driven by the customer and the insights you want to discover because, “At the end of the day, a tool is just that. If you have a hammer, everything is going to look like a nail.” 

Continuing on with future-oriented focus, Scott asked the panel to consider “the one thing” they would expect to be different about MarTech, or how marketers would be using MarTech, in the more condensed time frame of 15-to-18 months. What should they do to get ready for this? 

What followed was an avalanche of indispensable insight and advice from our speakers, fortunately recorded in their entirety and available to watch on demand. To summarize, some critical observations and exhortations were:

  • While it is certainly prudent to utilize MarTech solutions to discover new customers,  we should take this intense period of recalibration, not so much “down time,” to better understand how MarTech can be used to further build relationships with consumers or with clients depending on b2c or b2b focus. 
  • The power generator behind any MarTech solution is data, the input, having a robust consumer data platform and database to optimize efforts to grow your current client base through cross-selling and upselling to new products. Leverage data and your technology stack to drive more revenue for your organization from current clients through relationships developed and nurtured. Make sure also, that you have some sort of mechanism to demonstrate with data, the value and impact of your MarTech stack.
  • Optimize content, create dynamic and exciting content to tell a data-driven story. A fundamental change is taking place in real time, a movement from empathetic, “We’re here to help you”  messaging to content that zeroes in on how that help will be delivered. Consumers are looking for answers. It will be critical from this point for content to be more insightful and educational, providing structured relevance and specific actionable insights. 
  • An internal culture of experimentation and an openness to exploration strengthens the value of MarTech tools already in place, and reinforces opportunities for innovation. The rise of the “citizen data scientist,” was discussed, those who jump in, pull insights, and make connections using no code or low code tools. However, a key consideration is how much freedom to provide for people throughout the organization. Are your MarTech solutions managed internally as a centralized  process to ensure everyone is on the same page, or do you have a more, decentralized environment that might better inspire experimentation? There is a pull and push which is challenging to reconcile, but if you keep the customer at the center of the exercise and use this time to “be scrappy,” with proper governance, great things can happen.

Additional compelling topics were discussed, some arising from a robust Q & A session to include: 

  • How to make the decision to add a MarTech solution
  • The role of data privacy and regulation in the MarTech industry
  • How a MarTech startup can mitigate risk to encourage experimentation and trial acceptance
  • Recommendations for attribution tools and methods for measuring performance
  • The Customer Data Platform hub 

No discussion of The Future of MarTech would be complete, however, without a round of predictions on whether the industry will continue to grow substantially beyond the 8,000 solutions now represented on the Supergraphic, or begin to consolidate. The consensus was that owing to available capital even in the Covid era, vigorous innovation will continue with new apps and new solutions continuously coming on line, but with simultaneous consolidation occurring around the larger platforms connecting buyers and sellers. Will there be a MarTech 10,000 or 15,000? Quite possibly!

Scott said along the way, that we underestimate the value of the craft that marketing professionals apply to MarTech tools. The expertise required to harness their power individually or collectively to engage with consumers ensures the industry’s future.

We thank our premiere partner, Greenbook, for their continued sponsorship support.

Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash