SAN FRANCISCO – For more than a year, pundits have prophesized the end of the marketing tech boom. It’s a bubble on the verge of bursting, they warned. The diminishing odds of discovering a unicorn in such a crowded market will surely staunch the flow of venture capital, they said.
All this foreboding, however, has been for naught – the marketing tech gold rush shows no signs of slowing down. And so it’s time for everyone, from conservative CMOs to traditional channel companies, to jump on the bandwagon if they haven’t already.
This week at the MarTech conference in San Francisco, Scott Brinker, founder of the popular Chiefmartec blog, unveiled this year’s supergraphic landscape of marketing tech vendors. It’s become the state of the industry in a single view. Three years ago, the landscape held around 1,000 vendors and exploded to 3,500 by 2016.
Despite tough talk on a looming consolidation, the landscape grew again this year by a whopping 40 percent to 5,381 solutions from 4,891 companies. Only 4.7 percent of the solutions from 2016 were removed from the field – so much for consolidation.
There are many factors playing into marketing tech’s apparent staying power. Venture capitalists speaking at MarTech said marketing tech’s close ties to revenue make the category fertile ground for a new crop of innovative, best-of-breed solutions that offer differentiation from the competition and move the proverbial needle.
Another factor: A marketer’s job has changed dramatically in the digital age, from filling the top of the sales funnel to managing the entire customer experience. In fact, many companies today compete primarily on the customer experience, which makes digital marketers some of the most powerful people inside an organization. This also means marketing tech must grow in depth and breadth to keep up with a marketer’s mandate and increasingly covers adjacent parts of the digital enterprise.
“No role has changed as much as the marketer,” said Doug Pepper, managing director at Shasta Ventures, speaking at MarTech. “They now lead the digital transformation of business.”
It’s an exciting time for marketers – and terribly challenging.
Many marketers are turning to the channel for help, especially in sourcing marketing tech from the 5,381 solutions in Brinker’s supergraphic landscape. Consultants with expertise in specific vertical industries and geographies know their customer’s unique business challenges and can highlight marketing tech solutions that solve them. This saves a lot of time for marketers tasked with moving quickly to meet ever-changing consumer demands in the digital age.
Consultants can also help marketers internally sell solutions to line-of-business executives, as well as get a handle on an increasingly complex and widespread marketing technology stack. For instance, Jennifer Chick, vice president of global marketing and digital at Hilton Worldwide, tapped marketing and sales strategy consultancy Lenati to help articulate and align marketing tech across the organization.
“I think a third-party, unbiased opinion can really help create that alignment and accelerate to a short list,” Chick said.
Based in Silicon Valley, Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is eager to hear how martech is impacting your business. You can reach him at [email protected]