When the 2020 Marketing Technology Supergraphic was released earlier this year, the number of providers exceeded a staggering 8,000, a 5,233% increase since the tracking started a mere 9 years ago.
What strikes me about this update, aside from being floored by number of providers and how the category has grown exponentially since 2011, is the growth of both the “data” (+25.5%) and “management” (+15.2%) categories. I’m not surprised by the figures, but it legitimizes the issue facing most marketers today: the overwhelming amount of data and the inability to manage it.
Data is not going away, nor is the requirement that companies and marketers, in particular, get smarter and smarter about how to use it. What we can change is how we manage everything.
So often, we build complex systems to manage what we cannot manage ourselves. In the martech space, we almost celebrate the fact that there needs to be a system to manage the systems: the holy “martech stack” and the emergence of the Marketing Ops role itself.
The issue as I see it is that brands and agencies are tied to their existing technologies because of the fear of dismantling what they have woven together. For example, there are relationships to consider. There is the lead time and research to find new partners. There is the issue of contract terms. There is a potential backlash if the new technology doesn’t transition or work smoothly. There are the time and money needed to customize a new platform to your brand’s needs. There is the laborious approval process. There are a host of reasons not to make any changes. And thus, the status quo continues.
The problem is that being tethered to your legacy technologies doesn’t really make life easier, as evidenced by the fact that managing those technologies is a critical area of growth.
It doesn’t take an in-depth analysis to identify that a multitude of partners does not equate to efficiency. Not only is there undoubtedly overlap in capabilities, but there is also likely to be underuse of a particular platform. Additionally, silos and experts in one platform or discipline create convoluted workflows.
One approach to a solution would be to challenge your marketing team to find efficiencies within the current martech stack. Set a goal to reduce the number of vendors/partners by 50%, and see how creatively the team can maximize a particular partner’s set of services. Not only will consolidating save on fees, but also it will hopefully streamline and standardize reporting, at least within that section of the marketing mix, facilitating a more cohesive optimization analysis.
Another option would be to seek out a single ecosystem to handle all of your marketing technology. Even if your brand doesn’t adopt an entire platform, the overarching goal should be to bundle as many services as possible to find those efficiencies, saving time from managing disparate systems and creating value in streamlined processes.
I believe the real reason brands and marketers are afraid to make changes is twofold. First of all, they pride themselves in the complex structure they have built. And second, they are petrified about what will happen if they deconstruct it.
The problem is that just because something functions doesn’t mean it is optimal. Let’s go back to the 2020 Marketing Technology Landscape reference…who really wants to have to manage all of that?
Could There Be a Better Way?
My challenge to all the marketers out there is to take an honest look at the systems and workflows you have stitched together and ask yourself: Could there be a better way? Could you save yourself time, money and headaches in the long term if you weren’t bound to your existing technologies? Could that be worth your time and energy now, for future benefit?