What we learn from Scott Brinker’s Martech 5000 Supergraphic

May 18, 2017 | By

Six years of ChiefMartec’s supergraphics has gotten us to the grandly revealed 2017 edition, featuring more than 5,000 solutions and just fewer than 5,000 unique companies. Since only about 5% of last year’s companies didn’t make a return, the story of this landscape is net-new entries. Among other takeaways about the size and funding of this market (if something this big can fairly be called a market), Brinker’s underlying conclusions about marketing tech pertain to what he calls the “platformization of marketing technology.” In his words:

But the spectacular scope explosion of marketing — and the rate at which new disruptions and innovations continue to roil marketing and business at large — has made it impossible for any one vendor to deliver everything that every marketer needs in a digital world. Almost all of the major providers now acknowledge this, and they’ve shifted their strategies to embrace the ecosystem — becoming true “platforms” that make it easier for marketers to plug in a variety of more specialized and vertical solutions.

(Customer data platforms fit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, between centralized and distributed platforms.)

I had a few thoughts after pondering the new Supergraphic and reading the accompanying post:

  1. Platformization was inevitable. There was a brief frenzy in 2014/2015 that frothed about the marketing clouds and a rapid move toward marketers consolidating their stacks to reduce their footprints and gain efficiencies. Except, it wasn’t really happening like that. As my former colleague Rusty Warner observed after the publishing of a Forrester Wave on these vendors, their customers “want to see the [enterprise cloud] vendors minimize the effort to integrate data from existing sources and offer more functionality that multiple product modules share.” No marketers suggested they were (or ever would be) willing to abandon other tech in favor of a single vendor but rather wanting these providers to streamline processes and reduce obstacles. I liked the analogy one of our customers used the other day, specifically in reference to our CDP but applicable here, which was as a “power strip” for marketing. More on that another time.
  2. Growth in martech is probably not as explosive as the graphics suggest. Over the last handful of years, consider the following:
  • Digital technologies that empowered consumers and buyers forced companies to change the way they do business, which has meant a greater spotlight on and strategic role for marketing
  • Consequently, more tools that support the marketer in this endeavor broke onto the scene and garnered new attention for the CMO and her organization
  • Taken together, the industry both talks and cares more about this space which means a) vendors pivot or adapt existing products to target the marketer and b) we have a richer dataset of who is out there

So, yes there are more, but did 40% more products/solutions (approximately 1400 of them) enter the market in the last 12 months? Or perhaps more pointedly, do 1400 new solutions have any customers – nevermind revenue – using them at all? Color me skeptical.

  1. An image like this will be inherently less useful as it gets bigger. Which is not a criticism of Scott’s undertaking or to suggest a gargantuan effort like this isn’t relevant; it’s just that with so many categories, multi-category players, and new entrants, an image stops helping you make sense of the market. It helps you understand the breadth of technologies available, and the Google Sheet added this year is extremely useful.But, there are too many variables that need to be layered on to get to anything that resembles a working list to include in an RFP – core competency, industries served, target market company size, services involved. I would love to see one of the analyst firms – or a disruptor to them – create something that would allow marketers to hone in on tools that meet their specific criteria; right now, we either have incredible breadth (Supergraphic, Lumascape) or deliberate narrowness (Waves, Magic Quadrants) but not a fair or adequate middle that fuses both.

This is a very exciting time to be in marketing technology, no matter what role you play!

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