As seen through the lens of a “supergraphic” created and popularized by Scott Brinker on his blog ChiefMartec.com, which covers marketing as a technology-powered discipline, today’s marketing technology landscape of vendors, platforms and solutions is depicted as a chaotic rainbow of cleverly designed, colorful corporate logos.
It is, says Brinker, a list that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years: Today, there are several thousand martech companies at various stages, in dozens of categories from mobile, email and content marketing to data analytics, performance attribution, CRM, marketing automation and video advertising.
“I’m working on the 2016 update now and the list has not shrunk at all,” says Brinker. “In fact, there are more companies than I can even squeeze in using the smallest possible fonts.”
Marketers struggling to keep up with a bevy of solutions
As a result of the sheer volume of technologies, marketers are struggling mightily to keep up with what they all actually do and whether they actually work. “The amount of change and concepts related to new technologies that marketers are being asked to incorporate into their work is nearly impossible to keep up with,” says Brinker. “I think everyone feels the visceral pressure of trying to keep pace with this accelerating rate of technological innovation.”
Ironically, martech has flowered because of the incredible opportunities that have opened up for marketers in terms of new touchpoints and activities — from social and mobile to predictive and personalized — while the nature of creating software has changed dramatically thanks to open source and Infrastructure as a Service. “The barrier to entry is much lower,” says Brinker.
But it’s all too much for most marketers to tackle, says Kevin Joyce, vice president of strategy services with The Pedowitz Group: “How can an average marketer possibly hope to keep up with hundreds and thousands of tools and how it fits in with their current architecture?” Marketers, he insists, clearly need help. “They need IT to come in and participate,” he explains, “to help narrow down the choices and identify what will actually work with the business and boost performance.”
The challenge of martech freedom
One challenge of selecting and maintaining marketing technologies is that they often must integrate with the rest of the company’s systems — even if they are SaaS apps marketers can buy on their own, without actually having IT step in. “It’s good for marketers to have that freedom with their toolset, but even those tools that don’t require integration still end up representing potential business risk, data risk and issues around business continuity,” says Joyce, adding that there are also consequences when the technological landscape around the choices marketers have made changes within a year or two.
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