Martech in 2020: Agility, operations and decisioning are vital to success

To win in the next few years, attracting top talent, collaboration and Intelligence to leverage the martech stack will be vital for success. Empowering people will elevate brands.

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Observing, building, investing and engaging in marketing technology to me feels a lot like analyzing the greater financial markets. The complex, interconnected and dynamic nature of our digital engagement ebbs and flows in our space are clearly playing out in broader business market conversations.

As customer experience and centricity shifts are happening in the marketplace, it’s no coincidence we are seeing the marketing mindset play a greater role beyond the marketing department.

Here are my Martech ‘predictions’ through 2020:

Slower core innovation leads teams back to the customer’s experience

Crazy, right?

We won’t see much in the way of pure tech advancements in martech for a couple of years. With 6,829 marketing technology companies and research showing inefficiencies in technology use, marketing leaders are forced to regroup. Genuine innovation will either improve on management of the stack or through better use of existing tech in the queue. We’ve not even come close to leveraging AI, data or conversationals full potential.

While you can take a breath on that front, don’t expect the number of technologies, vendors or new tactics to slow anytime soon.

Innovation drive tends to have a coil funnel effect. From the start, we circle back and forth as we fundamentally progress and grow. AI and data are strong contenders for technological innovation in other areas of tech. Marketing is still navigating stewardship of data, connecting tech to match CX, better organize agile teams to orchestrate. Our industry will have some of the greatest tests in leveraging innovation, but also create the largest strides for the business community to follow.

Powerful innovation will come in connecting tech and data, collaborative teams, better customer relationships, orchestration and smarter investment decisions. Ask yourself if the innovation will uncover or magnify your team’s capabilities.

Greater utilization and faster adoption strengthen teams

As marketers and companies are approaching a calm in the storm, we are now gaining a better understanding of our respective digital strategy alongside how to organize teams. With any “new” technology or tactic that comes out, we will see greater adoption of the tools that are remaining in our stacks.

Adoption has been lagging the pace of marketing technology growth. According to the 2018  Maximizing the Value of Martech Innovations report, 63 percent of marketing organizations feel the landscape has rapidly evolved, but only 28 percent feel they are keeping pace.

As those stacks now have an opportunity to crystallize better, marketing technologist will see a significant increase in utilization. This will, of course, make it more difficult for vendors to penetrate established customer bases. As a result, vendors will accelerate building larger platform moats either through build or buy strategies.

Training, professional services and consultative implementation and support, and strategic advisory services will be on the rise. Take advantage of them. We have some incredibly smart people in our discipline.

Smarter productivity and collaboration tech empowers greater team agility

A common sentiment about automation tools in sales and marketing was they rarely automated anything. However, fast forward a decade and we see a plethora of tools and platforms which are incorporating smarter algorithms and better insights to enable us with greater intelligence. According to McKinsey, innovative business collaboration techniques can improve your company’s productivity by 20 to 30 percent. These trends toward higher productivity and collaboration will become paramount toward meeting ever-stretched growth goals. This is where true near-term innovation will come.

Hustling individually is wasteful. Successful growth-driven teams will push collaboratively, coupled with intelligence. Encourage a culture of experimentation and continuing education. Ensuring that you’ve empowered and emboldened your teams will create greater collaboration, especially across silos.

Operations tunes the marketing, sales, customer and product orchestration

Sales and marketing have taken up much of the conversation around account-based strategies, sales enablement and data/AI strategies. Few know better than I, the tremendous number of Martech tools and cross-organizational tactics that we are asked to evaluate, implement or experiment. The operations functions within marketing and sales are helping ground and create a disciplined approach towards tech and intelligence for greater productivity and utilization. By 2020, we’ll see successful companies have collaborative and robust marketing operations functions within and beyond the department.

Invest in an orchestrator of technology and operations. If you are in early stage, high-growth mode, empower your marketing operations lead with purchase decisions and ensure they stay light on tech, heavy on enablement. As you grow in needs and respectively marketing technology solutions, don’t be afraid to blow it all up and start again. Plan your data and process strategy to remain resilient to those changes.

The era of the Chief Growth Officer is renewed

I’ve long been observing and successfully navigating companies and investments mainly based in part on evaluating executive talent. I’ve defined 11 traits of these growth leaders and “thinking like a CEO” is at the top. As brands are defined by customers and the marketplace, its sensible that marketing background is critical for companies to grow.

The CMO has long been a focus of mine and where the future of marketing leaders take them beyond the department. Over three years ago, my push to see not only tenures grow for CMOs but where they own more responsibility for stewards of the company. One avenue is more CMOs on boards and as strong contenders for future CEOs positions. One conduit between those roles is the Chief Growth Officer (CGO) returning from its 2004 popularity. This board-level role works across departments and has responsibilities in line with the top line revenue like CROs and bottom line like COOs/CFOs.

Brand CMOs, your intuition and judgment about customers and the marketplace will become a central and critically unique skill. Further, enhance your capabilities with operational and cross-departmental experience to gain a board-level seat and promotional opportunities.

Resilience is core to growth

The continuation of the growth officer and marketing technology leaders is the need to incorporate resilience into the future growth of a brand. These risk management discussions typically found into operational and finance are now a responsibility for marketers. These risks occur far more quickly, cut deep and snowballs. Drops in customer satisfaction, AI ethics went awry, a tweet heard around the world and trust mismanagement is just a few unique to marketing.

At least twice a year, model and play out situations that could be detrimental to the brand. Have everyone understand these ‘wargame’ scenarios are a great way to ensure that your teams and organization are on the same page about early warning signs, policies and procedures to handle things that come up.

Balancing human decisions with Intelligence and automation

Use of Intelligence and entry-level AI are becoming table stakes. A person makes 35,000 decisions a day and that doesn’t include the elevated responsibilities of marketing leaders. There’s no trait that will become more important to the future of a marketer’s career trajectory than decisioning. Not only merely making strategic decisions, but think about responsibility for the people and technologies that are also decisions! With automation, data and analytics, our ability to make decisions are critical. AI-enablement and empowerment can only magnify you and your team’s strengths.

Develop a training and feedback process to democratize data, the narration of information and the flow of decision making.

Final remarks

The pendulum is swinging toward enhancing the human experience as it relates to how we digitally engage. Technology only magnifies the people, process and data behind them. To win into the next decade is to understand ourselves and our agility better to engage across silos.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Anand Thaker
Anand is an industry leader, builder, and advisor in marketing technology, executive GTM strategies, and related investments. His 18 years of experience span areas of go-to-market strategies, operations, enterprise sales, customer data and experiences, resilience planning, and intelligent systems. Currently, he serves as a confidential special advisor to select performance leaders and growth investors. With over $1B+ in returns, Anand brings a multi-disciplinary background and engages in R&D efforts around identity, motivation, intent, influence, and community decision-making. Anand thrives where people, data, and money intersect, solving complex organizational and customer engagement challenges for executives and investors. He has formulated the right mix of market and customer data, cognitive-enabled solutions, and seasoned judgment for wildly successful leaders. All towards building resilient revenue over time. Anand also has an uncanny knack and reputation for identifying and cultivating rising sales, marketing, and entrepreneurial leaders.

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