Marketing Technology Faces Implosion

According to cheifmartec.com, the MarTech landscape for 2015 includes 1,876 vendors in 43 categories (Capterra lists 3,000 marketing technology products in 30 categories). That’s almost double from last year’s 947. It accounts for almost $22B in financing, not including a host of investment that isn’t tracked, and 29 “unicorns,” companies valued at $1B+.

By any measure, that’s a ton of companies. And while this technology explosion might appear good news for marketers, it arguably pushes the space to the brink of implosion. According to a recent CMO Council report, 81% of marketers use as many as 10 different marketing-related technologies or cloud solutions. Marketing technology has expanded so rapidly that it’s even created a new C-level executive position, the CMTO (Chief Marketing Technology Officer).

CMTO or not, each marketer’s tech stack will include his or her list of favorites and will be tailored to that brand’s particular needs. Despite these differences there will be similarities, usually versions of marketing automation, social media, content management, analytics, reporting and landing page optimization. The issue is not what’s in your particular stack; it’s the fact that it’s growing out of control.



One of the tensions this creates is deciding how to invest one’s time and resources. As new technologies are added, it’s unlikely that head count or budget increase proportionally. More likely, a marketer is forced to cross-train a resource or use a short-term consultant before bringing the platform in-house. Never mind that there’s too little time to leverage the full power of any of them. I once asked the CMO of a large marketing automation vendor how many customers could be considered advanced users; the response, “I can count them on one hand.”

If you’re a left-brain thinker, just do the math. If you spend an average 15 hours per week per technology, you’re talking about 150 hours/week. Even if you drop that number to 10, you’re still talking about 2.5 full-time employees worth of technology-only time. And that assumes your team can work on multiple platforms. In my experience, marketers smash together a small army of consultants with a few tech-savvy employees. If you’re looking to be an industry leader and apply best practices, it’s not exactly a winning formula. Thus, it’s not surprising that the CMO Council states that a paltry 9% of marketers reported a highly evolved digital marketing model with a proven and clear path of evolution. 

This begs the question — where’s it all headed? In my opinion, we’ll start to see massive consolidation and uber-marketing systems. Think super-integrated marketing and advertising clouds. Hubspot is going that way, as is Marketo and Oracle. The preoccupation with “best-of-breed” in every category will be replaced by a “tree and branch model,” with one core technology and a few “good enough” complementary ones. In other words, the resource demands on marketers will require that the improved productivity and efficiency of an integrated technology suite trump the constellation of point systems. And while there will always be another niche technology promising incremental improvement, 2020’s marketing technology landscape will look more like an expensive French meal than a Vegas buffet.

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