In 2018, ChiefMarTech.com identified nearly 7,000 marketing technologies in their annual graphic. According to Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report, the average Enterprise company is using 91 of them.
If you’re a marketer, you’re probably nodding along. Because we know the market is crowded. We know MarTech is vital to success. And we also know it’s getting overwhelming.
So, how should companies move forward in 2019? How do we keep our MarTech stacks useful and usable? How do we build (or re-build) a stack that generates real-world results?
A panel of top thinkers from some of the world’s leading technology companies—Google, Adobe, Salesforce, and Lytics—recently sat down to tackle some of these challenges and identify opportunities for the coming year.
You can listen to their conversation here or read on for our top five takeaways on how to build a tech super stack in 2019:
Start with strategy before tech
If there was one common theme in this powerhouse panel, it was this:
Start with strategy.
If you don’t know where you’re going, there’s no technology that can take you there. So the most important thing marketers can do in 2019 is figure out their strategy—and then use technology to move the needle toward their specific strategic goals.
As Vikas Jain, Head of Strategic Alliances at Google, put it: “Technology is a means to an end…Figure out what the end is…Once you define what it is you want customers to get from your products, then you work backwards to figure out how to get there.”
In other words, your strategy should help you choose your technology—not the other way around. Your strategy should inform the questions you ask new prospective vendors, the decisions you make about which MarTech tools stay and which go, and the way you implement each piece of your MarTech stack.
Connect teams and consolidate data
Marketers have been talking about silos for years. But the time for talk is over. If your teams still don’t have access to the same data, if they still aren’t integrated and communicating, your business is falling behind.
“As part of your data management strategy,” Jain says, “one of the things that’s fundamental even before you talk about technology is breaking down organizational silos…If you don’t do that, no amount of marketing will help you.”
“The lines of marketing are blurring,” adds Jon Suarez-Davis (JSD), SVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Salesforce. “Into service, commerce, other [parts of the organization]. That’s why we think it’s important that the marketing cloud is not only meeting the needs of marketing as a function, but more importantly, it’s about customer success.”
Of course, the next question is how we break down organizational silos. One answer, offered by George Sadler, Senior Director of Enterprise Marketing and Analytics at Adobe, is to start with the data. If unified data is available to everyone across the organization, teams will be empowered to interact with customers in a consistent, helpful way.
In his Sadler’s own words, “It’s about unlocking the data and providing better experiences throughout the customer journey…Empower everyone in the organization who interacts with customers with [your data].”
Simplify your MarTech stack
According to the panelists, one trend across the industry is the desire for simplification. Customers are asking for fewer solutions and consolidated stacks.
And who could blame them, when that average Enterprise technology number is 91? It’s just too many things to keep track of.
Unfortunately, there still isn’t a single-solution option. As Jain points out, “No single stack today covers every marketing need.”
So it’s still essential to use multiple technologies, and the key in 2019 is to evaluate each one carefully. Always ask: How does this new tech impact the long-term strategy? If you can’t see a clear path, that technology might not be the right move.
Since there’s no single tool that can handle every MarTech function, the answer, according to the panel, is good integration.
James McDermott, CEO and Founder here at Lytics, explains two different common approaches to this challenge. The first is when companies break down silos by choosing a single suite of tools (Adobe, IBM, etc.). The upside to this approach is that those tools are made to work together. The downside is a lack of flexibility. If the best-in-breed tools for your top priorities come from different vendors, you lose out on some of the best features and capabilities.
The second approach companies are taking is to create a data hub and integrate the best tools on the market to interpret and activate on that data, no matter where those tools come from. This strategy hinges on the hub, so it’s vital to get that piece right—to choose a partner committed to integration across hundreds of MarTech tools.
Lytics can facilitate either approach, but it’s particularly great for those who want to integrate best-in-breed tools across suites. As James explains, “The sole purpose of Lytics is to provide a hub for companies to use the knowledge they have on their customers to activate better campaigns. The key is…we’re facilitating a best-in-breed approach…The decisions are made in a central way and then they are syndicated or synced into [your] different tools.”
Make better decisions with machine learning and AI
Starting with strategy, connecting teams, consolidating data, simplifying your MarTech stack, and prioritizing integration are key next steps for any company serious about marketing and sales. But when we look to the future, it’s not just about cleaning our proverbial marketing houses. It’s also about harnessing the new things technology is capable of.
Why settle for access to customer data when you could have smart interpretations and real-time decision-making on that data? Why settle for a data hub when you could harness that hub into a 60% increase in conversions or a 3x growth rate in digital subscriptions?
Those kinds of results are possible through machine learning and AI, which is why McDermott ends his comments on the panel by highlighting these technologies. In 2019, 40% of digital transformation initiatives will be AI-supported. And it’s important to consider how your company could be one of them.
Honing your MarTech stack?
If you’re already a customer, call your rep today to talk about workshops and services.