3 Key Takeaways from MarTech 2016


Success will be the result of how your teams work together leveraging technology smartly to experiment, learn, and measure impact on the market. CMG had four consultants at last week’s MarTech Conference in San Francisco. Our associate partner Barre Hardy was on an Agile Marketing panel with Scott Brinker and consultants Randy Delgado, Andrew Struhs, and Tarun Thapar also attended. It kicked off with the release of the ultimate eye chart, Scott Brinker’s new “Marketing Technology Landscape” with more than 3800 providers, almost double 2015.

“Being at MarTech was like drinking from a fire hose,” said Randy, senior director. “The year-on-year growth and the sheer number of providers is incredible. Many conversations revolved around how to keep up.” The four had conversations with vendors and marketers who are trying to make sense of the overwhelming scope of possible martech solutions. They came away with three key insights:

1. MarTech is testing marketers

Almost everyone is struggling to keep track of new solutions, platforms, and providers. Technology is still relatively new to marketing. The overlap of CMOs and CIOs is growing, but marketers are relatively inexperienced and lack confidence in their ability to assess options. To illustrate, manager Andrew Struhs shared the results of CMG’s informal survey of marketers conducted online over recent weeks, “The results reflect what others have found to be true about martech:

  • 57% feel they aren’t leveraging existing martech to its greatest potential
  • 58% have a significant problem keeping up-to-date on all available martech options
  • 67% find it difficult to calculate the ROI of martech investments.”

In their presentation, Pepsico applied the well-known 70:20:10 model. 70% of your investment should be spent on proven methods, 20% goes toward the next “level” of validated technology, and 10% is for experimental, blue sky spending. Randy explained, “Many told us that it seems like by the time they have implemented a new solution, it’s already obsolete. You can’t stop moving forward and looking ahead.”

2. Companies need to take stock

“Marketers are learning that martech is not an add-on you just slide into your current tech stack,” explained senior associate Tarun. “To make the right investment, marketers are going to have to take a few steps back. They need to review and assess martech with an inclusive view of their people, processes, and tools.”

We heard a lot of the terms agile, lean, and hacking marketing at MarTech. These are trends that have their roots in software development. This is not surprising considering the way that marketing, applications, and software are converging. Martech has the potential to—and many would argue already has—changed the life of a marketer. These technologies affect every area of traditional marketing and beg the question, “What else needs to change in marketing?”

3. Technology is only a tool

“Technology is not the end solution, it’s a tool that enables marketers to reach their objectives,” said Barre Hardy. Results will depend more on a smart, strategic approach to building clear objectives, priorities, and processes that martech will exploit. “Success will probably have less to do with the tech you choose, and more with how your teams work together to experiment, learn, and measure impact on the market.”

Marketers face other internal challenges beyond martech options:

  • 68% find it difficult or very difficult to align Marketing and IT requirements
  • 69% are leveraging existing martech for purposes they weren’t originally designed for (overextending technologies)

Change can reveal weaknesses. Many learn that traditional waterfall methods don’t reflect reality, layers of approvals are too cumbersome, and a lack of priorities causes teams to work on the urgent over the important. “The number of agile marketing sessions at MarTech reflect the need for a new way of working – teams need a new operating system for their people and processes,” Barre commented. “The status quo just doesn’t cut it anymore and marketers are realizing they need the shorter cycles of learning and adapting that Agile provides.”

In the end, MarTech showcased the complex, sophisticated questions that marketers are facing. Yet the first step to answers can be simple:  set a smart strategy. Take the time to understand customers, define goals, recognize needs, and build processes. Only then should you embark on building a modern marketing machine that will really perform.

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