I just got home from the MarTech conference in San Francisco, which a few of us BlueConic folks attended.
If I had to sum up the event in a word it would be convergence – convergence both well underway and still in the future. Even though one the most ubiquitous visuals at the event – Scott Brinker’s super-scape of more than 2000 companies – depicts an explosion of growth in this category, the speakers that took the stage all addressed one element or another of convergence related to this space. Here’s where I heard it happening:
Between marketing and IT
This is arguably the most en-vogue alliance in business today; Cynthia Gumbert of CA Technologies even went so far as to say that “Marketing and IT got together and they’re becoming one and the same.” I don’t think that’s quite true but the increase in “marketing technology offices” illustrates this trend. Joseph Kurian laid out the charter for Aetna’s MTO: Control the budget; let marketers be marketers and not worry about technology; and keep these initiatives separate from IT because they aren’t strong on business value.” I see a balance here where marketers continue to have their own tools specifically designed for their needs, while the technology folks partner with them to ensure those investments will function as promised and integrate with other solutions.
Between software and storytelling.
Also commonly characterized as the “art and science of marketing,” or creative+data, a number of speakers touched on marketing’s responsibility to use technology to tell a compelling story that resonates with customers and drives engagement. IDC’s Gerry Murray shared two efforts – Domino’s Pizza in Australia’s “Pizza Mogul” mobile app and Pantene’s “#wantthathair’’ Academy Awards social campaign – that show the business potential in technology-powered creative engagement. This isn’t really new, however, as brands that ignored digital-first approaches to campaigns and customer engagement have already been left behind over the last few years. But Dell’s Corey Craig talked about an even deeper commitment to the craft, identifying “being a great storyteller” as one of three key pillars to designing and operating an always-on marketing program at scale.
Between MarTech and AdTech.
In my previous role at Forrester, one of the last reports I published was called the “Marketing Technology Meet-Up” about the consolidation of ad technologies and marketing technologies and what it means for marketing leaders. Tony Ralph of Netflix explained his company’s current thinking about adtech (bringing programmatic in-house, for example) and on a panel with representatives of Salesforce.com, Oracle, and Marketo, all three participants espoused the benefits of a unified adtech/martech approach. But when pressed, it became quite clear that though there are a lot of exciting possibilities, only the digital-natives like Netflix, Uber, and FitBit are really in a position to act right now. There are pockets of convergence certainly, and we’ll see more and more in the next 12-18 months, but most marketing teams still struggle to think about consolidating adtech and martech at the strategy, process or technical levels. David Raab discussed his newly-coined term “mad-tech” at the conference as well and the implications such a convergence has on data, decisions, and delivery.
It was a privilege to be part of such an important event whose very existence is a leading proof-point that marketing tech is a tremendously dynamic, challenging, and exciting space to be in. Thanks to the event organizers – especially Scott – and to everyone who made it such a success!