MarTech Conference: Vendor roundtable on the future of martech

MarTech Conference chair Scott Brinker sits down with industry visionaries to discuss the future of marketing technology, and columnist Derek Edmond recaps the highlights.

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As the MarTech Conference headed down the final stretch earlier this week, conference chair Scott Brinker moderated a panel called “A Vendor Roundtable On The Future Of MarTech” with members of the so-called “Big Martech” crowd.

Panelists addressed a range of questions on the role and impact that marketing technology has for organizations and customers. The panel included:

  • Steve Krause, Group Vice President of Product Management at Oracle;
  • Adam Blitzer, SVP & GM of Salesforce, Pardot;
  • Suzanne Mumford, Head of Marketing, Google Analytics 360 Suite; and
  • Matthew Zilli, Senior Director, Product & Segment Marketing at Marketo.

Here is a recap of some of the key discussion points.

On the growth of the marketing technology landscape

There is no doubt that the martech industry is growing rapidly. Zilli explained that in just two years, Marketo’s partner ecosystem had grown from just five partners to now more than 500.

Blitzer said the Pardot/Salesforce Marketing Cloud has grown 31 percent year over year, but what’s really exciting is martech’s pervasiveness across industry verticals. While investment in marketing technology has been a no-brainer in the startup space, mature industries like financial services, health care and industrial are getting into the game, as well.

The panelists agreed that CEOs are driving the transformation, alongside chief marketing officers and other marketing decision-makers.

Mumford explained that Google is making sure the consumer remains the “guiding light” for how the company develops new technologies. For example, “Near Me Now” queries are up appreciably (approximately 34 percent) through mobile search; and marketers are looking for tools to capitalize on this phenomenon and improve the search experience.

Marketing technology & customer experience

In Blitzer’s opening remarks, he emphasized that marketing is now truly part of customer engagement, combining sales, services and communities. This sentiment resonated throughout answers and discussion points as the conversation between Brinker and the panelists went on.

Oracle’s Krause emphasized the need for organizational change to go along with the martech change. Too many silos and too much fragmentation impact the customer experience. How are you putting people and incentives together to benefit the customer?

You need someone organizing and “on tap” to make sure all of the marketing technology parts and groups are working together to create a cohesive customer journey.

Zilli emphasized that organizations need to start at the customer experience and work their way backward (using quotes from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs). Marketers now have a big hand in owning the customer experience through marketing technology adoption.

The marketer’s changing view

Panelists agreed that marketers appear to be embracing the adoption of martech in their approach.

Zilli noted that one of the biggest changes is that marketing platforms are now a critical part of the stack. And marketers are using more technologies than ever before.

Marketing departments that used to have five to seven different applications now have 60, 70, or even 80 technologies in place and can (almost) manage it all effectively.

Krause cautioned that parts of the enterprise need to be centralized and organizations need to establish a single center of data. A good foundation must be developed to provide an effective marketing platform at the top.

While additional technology services can then be added, the outcome must focus on adding value, so that customers win.

Mumford highlighted that marketers need to continue to test and stay nimble to adapt to change. Her recommendation was for technology to remain open and able to plug into different systems.

The evolving landscape: Competition, noise, acquisitions?

So where did these vendors stand when it came to the rapid growth of solutions and discussions arising in the martech space? Everyone appeared very bullish.

Mumford‘s perspective was that the evolving landscape represents a win-win for all types of organizations. It allows small companies to better scale their solutions, while also letting large organizations become more agile in their development.

Krause added that the evolving landscape is encouraging. Marketers 20 years ago were disenfranchised (They had one tool: Excel).

Marketers are now able to get more strategic, as increased competition is making martech more accessible.

Zilli did point out that even though marketers have all of these new technology options, it’s even more important to get better at understanding core problems. But technology innovation allows marketers to be agile in finding solutions. There are no longer three- to five-year implementations.

All of this is great, but when will marketers catch up?

With five minutes left in the session, Brinker opened up the conversation to the rest of the audience. One question resonated most: With all of this great technology at our fingertips, when will marketing professionals actually be able to understand all the technologies being offered?

Krause answered this question best, to a round of applause from the audience: “When are software vendors going to make more intuitive products? It’s on the vendor to make their solutions usable — not the other way around.”

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Derek Edmond
Derek Edmond is a Managing Partner for KoMarketing, a B2B internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and social media strategy. Derek directs search engine marketing and social media strategies for clients of KoMarketing. With nearly 10 years experience, Derek has worked with organizations ranging from the Fortune 500 to venture-backed startups to small business enterprises.

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