The state of MOps (-Apalooza)
Discussing the state of marketing operations at MOPs-Apalooza, a three-day gathering of MOps professionals in Anaheim.
“It’s like shaking up all the letters in a Scrabble bag,” she said, “then pouring them all over the table and trying to make a word.”
The senior marketing operations manager was talking about one experience of trying to put a martech stack together. “We have, I think, 90 solutions in the stack,” said another MOps manager, warming to the subject of under-utilization. A third MOps professional announced firmly that a certain (very well known) platform’s lead scoring was simply “cr*p.”
That gives a flavor of the countless conversations being had in the halls of MOPs-Apalooza, the first full-scale live event put together by MO Pros, the community for marketing operations professionals. Last year had seen two smaller events, “Summer Camps” as they called them. This occasion, a three-day conference in Anaheim, California, brought out over 320 MOps mavens with 600 or more joining online.
The state of the MO Pro
The event was also the occasion for the launch of the 2023 edition of “The State of the Marketing Operations Professional,” based on 553 responses to a MO Pros survey. Two key findings were:
- The profession is growing in maturity with 57% of respondents having worked in a marketing ops role for six years of more compared with 49% in 2022.
- Teams may be getting smaller with 31% of respondents reporting as solo practitioners compared with 25% last year.
Nevertheless, almost 90% of businesses with over $10 million in annual revenue have some kind of marketing operations team; for smaller businesses the figure is 64%.
The report is confident that MOps will remain in high demand as businesses confront:
- The death of the cookie.
- Privacy and compliance management.
- The demand for product-led growth.
- The consumerization of B2B Data.
- Warehouse-native technologies.
- AI and ML across the tech stack to automate marketing and sales tasks once done manually.
Challenges or opportunities
The last two items on that list present perhaps the biggest challenges and opportunities for MOps teams. What the report soberly describes as “warehouse-native technologies” alludes to one aspect of the growing interest in composability. “Composable” CDPs hook into enterprise-wide datawarehouses rather than ingesting some subset of company data.
For chief martec Scott Brinker, in his presentation, composability will grow in importance as a feature of martech stacks as apps are aggregated around foundational platforms. Apps themselves will become increasingly composable as non-technical users (“citizen developers”) put them together from existing libraries of features.
Brinker also outlined the likely impact of generative AI on MOps — not so much image and text creation as the ability (again, including for non-technical users) to generate code and create automations. Brinker sees in the immediate future the use of AI for lower level tasks leading to significant time-savings; but there’s likely to be a precipitous slope to higher level use cases.
Two varieties of complexity emerged from conversations at the event, both potentially disabling.
The first is the booming complexity of the martech landscape. The most recent edition of the notorious landscape supergraphic listed 11,038. Brinker and his collaborator Frans Riemersma have a new number up their sleeves to be revealed on December 5.
For marketing organizations bewildered by the choice of tools, Riemersma had a simple message: “Stop implementing software for the sake of software. Start with the business case and a lot of noise will disappear.” Not least because of generative AI, there has been a flood of new tools brought to market this year. The danger? “We are paralyzing ourselves,” he said.
The second complexity lies in the way marketing ops teams are configured within organizations. One manager told us his business had not only a marketing ops team, but rev ops and sales ops too. Do you have some kind of workflow solution giving visibility into the different teams’ work? “How many?” was the reply.
Another said that, although the work the MOps team did was predictably in the service of the marketing org, he reported into the data analytics function. MOps has yet to find a settled place within companies.
Why it is all worth it
I asked M.H. Lines, co-founder of Stack Moxie and self-described “chaos wrangler,” where she found value in MOps-Apalooza. “Marketo Summit used to be a place where all of us came together as a community — and it was just for us. Adobe Summit? No, for everyone. Inbound is demand gen and marketers and web people. We needed a place for just us. We begged Mike Rizzo to do it and said we’d support him on it.” Her company is a MOPs-Apalooza sponsor. “It’s nerdy. A lot nerdier than marketers.”
Added Natalie Furness, founder of RevOps Automated, “It’s quite a lot of money to spend your budget to come from the U.K., but it has been a fun event. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I’ve had virtual relationships with in real life.”
Finally, we asked Mike Rizzo, founder of MO Pros and one of the guiding lights of the event, whether it was meeting his expectations. “To be perfectly honest,” he said, “two-and-a-half weeks ago we had 175 people registered; then suddenly it climbed to 325. I was really excited because our soft goal was 350 people in-person. So far, everyone has shared with me that they’re super-excited about being in a room where they don’t have to explain what they do. The conversations get deeper and more interesting faster.”
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