MARTECH 2016: Are We There Yet?

I’m sitting here after Day One at MARTECH 2016 in San Francisco where the marketing tech faithful have gathered to take in the marketing technology landscape.  The event is sold out.  There’s barely enough room to walk down the aisles where over 100+ martech vendors are doing what tech vendors do at conferences.  Here’s the crazy part: 100 martech vendors is about three percent of the 3,500+ martech vendors on Scott Brinker’s latest insane graphic that categorizes all of the players.

Brinker, in his keynote, shared some insights and facts that every marketer should absorb. Consider this: only five years ago the martech landscape was comprised of 100 companies.  Way back then, vetting which marketing technology was right for your business was relatively simple compared with wading into today’s options.  Brinker pointed out that some believe we may be at or near the peak, entering into a period of consolidation. He went on to make an interesting point:

Maybe the number of vendors is reaching peak, but marketing technology adoption keeps going up as the number of vendors peaks.  In other words, companies are very early in the adoption curve of marketing technology.  In Scott’s words: “there’s a whole world catching up on this.”

He’s right.  We have a long way to go to figure out how to choose and use the technology.  No matter how good, or how necessary any technology is, there is a good chance that it will fail to deliver on its promise.  I’ve seen this play out more than a few times.  Here are some of the reasons marketing technology fails:

  • No clear objectives or unrealistic goals for business outcomes
  • Fully loaded cost to implement and maintain are not taken into account
  • The time required to do it right isn’t budgeted for or available
  • Dependencies on other technologies and data aren’t considered
  • Inter-department politics and infighting
  • Good technical/business thinking people are hard to find (really hard)
  • Good technical/business thinking people leave the company before it’s deployed

So, are we there yet?  Have we reached the point where marketing technology has outrun our ability to choose and use martech wisely?  I have no idea.  But if the martech company count doubles again this year, Mr. Brinker is going to have a really hard time fitting all those logos on the 2017 landscape poster.

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