Martech day: in a world of almost 10,000 tools, how can brands keep up?

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You don’t need us to tell you that it was martech day earlier this week. For people in the martech world, technology is proliferating – we’re rapidly approaching 10,000 tools in the market. Using those tools to improve your work requires a certain amount of knowledge and savvy. Kerry Dawes, technical director at Digitas, tells us how to navigate the thicket of tech.

This week we celebrated martech Day: 3rd May 2022. Like Christmas day for all those who love, obsess over, and are deeply curious about all things martech. For everyone else, it’s just the day before Star Wars day.

The Chief Martech & Martech Tribe shared the latest report this week which details that there is now a total of 9,932 Martech tools out there, spanning six categories. That’s, yet again, huge year-on-year growth, meaning there are more companies, technologies and solutions than ever out there to help marketers.

972 technologies have been removed in the last year, but a whopping 2,904 technologies have been released, including new start-ups from across the globe.

It’s exciting for marketers that there’s more capability, innovation and growth in this space. But it’s also daunting as organizations are already struggling to keep up with customer needs.

So, with more and more technologies expected to be introduced, what are our key three takeaways from this year’s martech day report?

First, the trend of exponential growth of martech start-ups and suppliers isn’t going away. This spans all categories, but interesting growth is occurring with platform management software-as-a-service suppliers – tech to manage your tech.

Second, there’s a shift from consolidation to aggregation, not only in tech vendors but in how brands should architect their martech Stack. Tools are focusing on creating more API, cloud & app platforms alongside microservice models, allowing technologies to plug in to core frameworks.

And third, Europe is still lagging behind the US when it comes to a robust marketing operations function. This may currently sit within campaign management, project management or strategy, but a holistic omnichannel marketing ops function must be a key investment for 2022 and beyond.

The core challenge

While every business is unique, our day-to-day conversations with clients reveal a common challenge that doesn’t seem to be going away: ‘How do I achieve a personalized, automated, omnichannel marketing strategy at scale?’

With even more growth in technology to solve these problems, our clients are still struggling to connect, utilize and maximize these investments. And marketing teams still remain disconnected due to budget, structures and KPIs.

Meanwhile, we’re still seeing our clients and other organizations trying to catch up with last year’s innovation, or 2020’s ‘next big thing’.

What you should be doing next: 3 steps

With industry changes brought about by the cookieless future, reduced marketing budgets, and a greater urgency to digitize customer experiences, there’s increased pressure to get these technologies to enable (and not hinder) marketing teams.

1. Adding more technology isn’t going to solve all your problems

When onboarding a new piece of tech, you must ensure it connects to your existing ecosystem. Be clear on the tools’ responsibility within that ecosystem. Recognize that some of your technology may have overlapping capabilities, and invest in a thorough and complete integration, including employee training.

2. Ensure your architecture is built on a strong base of data and infrastructure

A shift to aggregation and scalable solutions where you can plug in (or swap out) the latest technology without having to rebuild the whole database is going to be key. This can include creating microservices to connect, and link into new or legacy tools. Ultimately, this will ensure your tech stack can keep up with your business, technology and consumer growing expectations.

3. Organization designs and the market skills shortage are challenges

With technology growing at such a rate and new coding languages, approaches and models emerging each day, there will be a skills gap in the market for deep-rooted knowledge on certain tools. Consider the skills needed when selecting new tools; are they available?

Review your team’s operating model and ensure it will be able to break down some of these barriers. Even the most ‘agile’ models create new silos. Consider a marketing ops model which can span all your marketing channels with shared KPIs. As a team focus, on a connected customer experience, and deliver through these channels and technologies.

This space is growing ever more complex, but also increasingly smart and innovative. Before spending more on the latest gadget, ensure you have the brilliant basics in place to excel in the future.