There’s no doubt about it – the MarTech industry moves at a rapid pace. With new tools, additional sources of information and multiple ways to connect all of your systems, there are a lot of things to keep up with. We don’t have a crystal ball, but when looking ahead to 2017, here are some predictions for the MarTech industry from our team members, Justin Norris (Solutions Architect) and Adam Hodgden (Senior Consultant & Team Lead).
2017 MarTech Predictions
The Rise of APIs 2017 will see the continued rise of APIs and building a best of breed stack. It wasn’t long ago that marketers were faced with the decision between buying an entire suite of software from a certain provider, or building a best of breed stack comprised of tools from multiple different service providers. For example, do you buy a vendor’s cloud and buy all their stuff and use their suite of tools? Or, do you buy bits and pieces from a variety of different vendors and connect the pieces together? It seems to be that best of breed has clearly won the day. Interoperability and APIs have become table stakes, with marketers taking for granted the fact that tools have to be able to talk to each other and work together. The ability to string tools together has gone from an enterprise capability, requiring a developer, to something that any marketer with some technological know how is capable of doing. The most simple expression of this is a webhook. There has been a proliferation of ‘integrations’, that aren’t true integrations, but rather exposed services that you can call via a webhook, expanding the capabilities of Marketo. Tools like Clearbit help connect multiple technologies and are becoming increasingly popular. These types of solutions also make it easier to:
- Save budget – limits need to buy big expensive licenses or software
- Save time – reduces implementation and configuration time for setting up and connecting tools.
We are seeing more tools like this that provide the functions that extend your capabilities of your existing software and the people are getting more comfortable with it.
Integration as a Service
This brings us to talking about integration as a service and the rise of APIs making integration even more important. There are tools for all costs, levels of complexity, levels of business sizes, etc. From Zapier, for performing basic connectivity tasks, to integration platforms like Bedrock Data, to enterprise level tools from Informatica and Mulesoft. String these services together to be a better steward of your data and essentially create interoperability without writing custom integrations.
Convenience of Service and Information Privacy
As marketers, we are naturally interested in having all of the data so that we can carry out more personalized marketing. But we are also consumers and some things that once seemed science-fiction are now possible. In some circles, there’s a growing concern about the amount of information that is stored by companies, governments, etc. Does it become a concern to people? Are they concerned about more invasive technologies? Or do we accept it due to the convenience of the technology. For example, when it comes to using voice commands in Amazon Echo and Google Home, Adam feels that convenience will outweigh privacy. Shouting into a box to order dog food and have it delivered to your door two days later is more convenient. Justin agrees that for many consumers the convenience of these innovations will trump any privacy concerns. However, he also feels that there is a growing segment of privacy conscious-consumers that may be wary to grant this level of access to their personal information.
He also believes that more education is necessary so that consumers understand what level of access they are granting to their personal data, how that data is being used, and how that data can be accessed by third-parties (such as governments or other corporations) so that informed decisions can be made. According to a recent article from TechCrunch, Google purchased API.ai, which demonstrates the emphasis they are placing on API integrations. Using API.ai, Google has 60,000 developers building tool sets to further build out the capabilities of Google Home. Today, the consumer has full power. If it’s more convenient to order pants from a chatbot than a store or visiting a website, they can do it. Want to Snapchat your pizza order to Domino’s? You can.
There’s a lot of hype around Account Based Marketing (ABM). In the past couple of years, there’s been a focus on transitioning from a lead to an account focused approach. Justin predicts that 2017 will see a movement from a lower level of maturity where people buy the tools and talk about implementing ABM, to a more sophisticated one, where people start to measure the value of ABM. Currently, people look at a lead as an individual journey, moving through a set of stages, over a couple of different paths. The sales and marketing journey isn’t linear. Like a football team, you have members on each side and you run plays. Different people do things to influence different roles on each side in an orchestrated fashion.
In 2017, people will start saying “how do we transform our operations with ABM?”. The structure and silos originally in place in an organization may not work. We predict an emphasis on sales and marketing working together, as well as a rise in data cleaning services – you can’t have a successful ABM program with dirty data. Your database needs to be prepared for ABM — starting with your data. Simple things like lead to account matching require clean, accurate information. You need to be able to define an account in your system and identify it. To be effective, Sales and marketing need to be fully aligned and integrated with each other in order for ABM to work. The natural point of convergence is the respective operations levels, and in some companies, these areas are heavily siloed. There are multiple approaches for bringing them together:
- Inter-functional councils
- Full-on convergence of the functions
Different approaches will work for different organizations, but the need for alignment between the two teams is essential. There must be some sort of unified governance of the technology stack so that both teams are not sending messages to leads on the same day at the same time. Messages need to be sent to leads at the right time, and both teams need to be aware of and respectful of the messages being sent by each other. Marketing Automation tools are increasingly serving as a source for more information. Having evolved from programs and email sending, marketing automation tools speak to a need for a centralized strategy and governance. Striving for this will be a continuing trend as more tools and teams are brought into the mix. People have been pumping information into their marketing automation tool, and now, people are trying to cleanup data or analyze data in order to make smarter marketing decisions. They started out by casting the net wide, and now want to look at the data to see what has been working, where leads and opportunities are coming from, etc. There’s a greater maturity and understanding of the tool, but they are now being used in a more mature manner. We’ll check back in throughout 2017 with updates on these predictions.