Marketing Technology: Is “Implosion” Where We’re Headed?

A chart of just some of the major marketing technology platforms -- and this is as of 2013!
A chart of just some of the major marketing technology platforms — and this was in 2013!

It seems that with each passing day, one or two new technology products are announced by MediaPost and other publishers in the marketing field.

The numbers tell the story. The marketing technology industry website chiefmartec.com lists nearly 1,900 marketing technology vendors in more than 40 categories.

That’s nearly double last year’s tally of around 950 vendors.

Software clearinghouse Capterra lists even more: a whopping 3,000+ marketing technology products across 30 categories.

These firms account for well over $20 billion in financing – the dollars that can be tracked, that is – including around 30 companies that are valued at $1 billion or more each.

That’s a lot of companies and vendors. Of course, there are many customers who are looking for tech-driven marketing solutions as well.  The question is whether things have gotten out of balance.

Business writer and marketing tech specialist Malcom Friedberg thinks so. He’s Chief Marketing Officer at CleverTap, and he also publishes columns on a variety of business topics.

In Friedberg’s view, the sheer number of marketing technology vendors and products means that the segment may now be on the brink of an implosion.

Friedman references a recent CMO Council document that reports that more than 80% of marketers are using as many as ten different marketing-related technologies or cloud solutions.

And as new technologies are added, the problem is finding educated staff – and enough hours in the day – to cover all of these products well. In many instances, users may be just scratching the surface of what these products can provide; the “multiple hat” dynamics of many marketing departments mean that very few people qualify as being “advanced” users.

The problems boil down to this: Even if a department has two or three marketing people devoted exclusively to tech-related responsibilities (at tall order in most companies) – this assumes that those people can work equally well on multiple different platforms.

The reality is quite different. It’s more like a big jumble – with consultants brought in to sort things out.  It may get the job done, but it isn’t pretty – and it’s hardly a recipe for “the best of best practices.”

Survey work by the CMO Council supports this hypothesis. The Council has found that fewer than on in ten of the marketers it surveyed reported that they possess a highly evolved digital marketing model that has a proven, clear path of evolution.

Malcolm Friedberg
Malcolm Friedberg

Friedman thinks he knows where things are heading. Not to more choices, but rather to less:

“In my opinion, we’ll start to see massive consolidation and uber-marketing systems. Think super-integrated marketing and advertising clouds … the preoccupation with ‘best-of-breed’ in every category will be replaced by a ‘tree-and-branch’ model, with one core technology and a few ‘good enough’ complementary ones.”

Friedman calls it “an expensive French meal” instead of “a Vegas buffet.” While there will always be new products promising incremental improvements, he predicts that by 2020, the common business model will be super-integrated marketing and advertising clouds as we see already with the likes of Marketo and Hubspot.

What do you think? Is Friedman onto something … or is the orgy of new marketing technology products going to continue unabated?  Please share your thoughts with other viewers here.

2 thoughts on “Marketing Technology: Is “Implosion” Where We’re Headed?

  1. Good post. I agree we do need consolidation. In business we do need curious people who are willing to learn new technologies. Tech companies need to really focus on the user interface so non-technical people are more willing to adopt them.

  2. Great thoughts. Like the previous comment, user interface is key and needs to be improved. On the other hand, it’s great to have the competition in the industry to continually bring us better software while putting a ceiling on the costs.

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