Discover Martech 2020 - Is the future of marketing tech best-of-breed?

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher May 14, 2020
Marketing tech continues to proliferate at almost-terrifying rates. But how will this shake out for marketers amidst COVID-19 disruptions? Will a best-of-breed push put the big suites on the defensive?


If you want to know what's happening in the martech industry, you only have to listen to Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot, and the Program Chair of the Martech Conference. Over the three days of the virtual conference, Brinker provided keynotes that shared insights into the martech industry. I thought I would share some of these insights.

Brinker talked about how tools are managed across the organization. He quoted the TEKsystems 2020 State of Digital Transformation report noting that 61% of orgs are implementing digital tools to make information more accessible across the organization. 

Good marketing operations technologists are trying to balance the need for central vs decentralized tools, as well as automating vs humanizing, Brinker said. Functions that don't vary much are often centralized while functions that are highly variable are often decentralized.

Design for change

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that we need to design for change. Brinker talked about how marketing has changed during the pandemic, saying that 74% have stopped or altered their marketing. Forty-seven percent are shifting their tactics.

The point is that continuous change is something we should expect and plan for, and if we embrace that idea, we have a better chance of making it through to the other side of any adverse events that hit us.

The growth of martech is staggering

Scott Brinker's latest marketing landscape infographic is crazy. It grew by 13.8% to include 8,000 marketing technology solutions. Brinker walked through the breakdown of the technology by category:

  • 1969 - Social and Relationships
  • 1936 - Content and Experience
  • 1314 - Commerce and Sales
  • 1258 - Data
  • 922 - Advertising and Promotions
  • 60 -  Management

The most significant category change was in Data, with an increase of 25.5% from last year. Within categories, you also see certain tech growing faster than others - much of which we've talked about on diginomica.

Video marketing had the highest growth (26% increase) in the Content and Experience category, while conversational marketing/chat grew over 70% in the Social and Relationships category, and in Data, the highest growing category was Governance, Compliance, and Privacy (68% increase).

"People often say that marketers chase martech like shiny objects, but I actually think it's the other way around. Martech entrepreneurs chase marketers," said Brinker. He said martech entrepreneurs are listening to marketers and what they are interested in, and they are paying attention to trends.

Yes, there are a lot of martech technologies available, but according to Brinker, it's a consolidated industry with most of the technology sitting in the long-tail or long, long tail, as shown in the diagram below. Most companies still use a limited number of martech solutions in their core stack.

Martech consolidation
(via Scott Brinker)

From Martech Summit, Brinker Keynote 2

Where martech is headed

Everything changes, even martech, and according to Brinker, the robust, diverse landscape of marketing technology will continue. And there's plenty of reasons why, including these:

  • We are continuing to go more digital
  • It's easier than ever to create software, and as a result, technology is growing
  • No-code platforms are growing
  • Marketers are driven to differentiate

The way martech is built and selected is changing too. According to the 2019 Gartner Martech Survey, a greater number of organizations are leaning toward best of breed solutions over integrated suites. 

What does this mean for enterprise suite vendors? I think it means they will have to continue opening their doors to integrations with other martech software that sometimes replaces parts of their suite and other times builds onto their suite (because they can't do absolutely everything).

Looking at Brinker's Second Golden Age of Martech, we see this clearly - the shift to interoperability across platforms.

martech graphic scott brinker
(via Scott Brinker)

From Martech Summit, Brinker Keynote 2

The ability to integrate and play nicely is not the only thing we'll see. Ease of use is listed as the top capability martech vendors should focus on (slightly more important than integration), according to the Ascend2 Martech Stack Optimization Survey

The ability for marketers to get a solution up and running and use it without needing IT assistance has grown in importance over the years because they need to make changes to customer experiences fast. No code solutions bring an agility that can make this happen. 

In the end, though, I do believe the best solutions aren't selected by marketing teams alone. There is still a need for IT involvement, especially around integration between martech solutions and other technology across the company. Getting that full view of the customer lifecycle is critical, and it requires participation from more than marketing. It is vital, however, that marketing doesn't need to rely on IT to use the technology.

My take

There's never been a better time to be involved in the martech industry. There are so many solutions to choose from to build the optimal martech stack. But there's also more opportunity to build stacks with technology that isn't integrated right to provide that optimal customer experience. You have to think strategically and carefully about what you need and when.  

It's also a great time to create new technology that aligns with the needs of marketers today. There are endless ideas, and building apps, components, or full solutions is easier to do than ever before. 

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