People, Integration and AI: The Future from MarTech 2018

May 7, 2018 | Marija Sekularac

If MarTech’s 2018 conference in San Jose proved anything, it was that this fledgling industry has grown into a tech powerhouse—and has yet to grow even further.

Just look at the Marketing Technology Landscape infographic created by Scott Brinker, Chief Editor of chiefmartech.com: the industry has grown from a mere 150 brands in 2011 to nearly 7,000 martech solutions in 2018. Marketing technology shows no sign of slowing down.

The MarTech 2018 conference was chock-full of brilliant presentations and innovative insights, and it would be impossible to cover all of them with the depth they deserve in a single blog post. But there were definitely key threads that run through the entire program:

People-based technology stacks

Over two days companies like LogMeIn, Meyer, and VMWare shared how they built their marketing tech stacks and the thought process behind their creation and refinement. The individual tools all differed based on need: LogMeIn, for example, ran heavy on content creation and team collaboration tools while Bedrock Data focused on a single content-focused tool and focused its effort on data collection, management, and reporting solutions.

But the key unifying theme of these martech stacks was an emphasis on people. What would make life easier for an employee to do their job? What would make it easier for the customer to connect with the brand? Nearly all the martech stacks presented went out of their way to ensure employees could rely on the tools to help them do their jobs effectively and efficiently, no matter what the back-end looked like.

And that leads me to the next point:

Integration

The average tech stack at MarTech 2018 ran from 10 to 20 software solutions, each specializing in their own niche function. That’s a dizzying amount of data, interfaces, and features to keep track of. How can an understaffed marketing team be expected to keep track of it all?

The answer lies in integration. Most modern martech solutions use an open API to connect with other tools and expand their functionality. There are also solutions like IFTTT and Zapier that help simplify the process of integrating with other tools.

In one presentation, Tony Ralph, VP Marketing Product for Walmart eCommerce, shared that the ideal way to build a consolidated marketing tech stack isn’t to buy an all-in-one solution, but to assemble a diverse collection of tools that are each the best at what they do (for you), but connected via API or other integration methods. This allows you to swap out or upgrade individual technologies without you having to replace the rest of the set.

AI

Artificial Intelligence can be a hard sell to jaded marketers just because it’s so much of a buzzword. But Adelyn Zhou, CMO of TopBots, and Dejan Duzevik from Concentric were on-hand to show MarTech 2018 attendees just what the future held.

The most visible sign of AI’s progress in martech is the emergence of chatbots—those automated response boxes where customers type in questions and get useful responses. We are seeing a sharp rise in companies that offer these solutions, and machine learning is getting very good at picking up natural language, to the point that it can be hard to tell who’s a real agent and who’s not.

Machine learning also makes a significant contribution towards predictive analytics, customer sentiment analysis, and data management. It can tackle higher levels of complexity than a human administrator can.  

Over time, more martech solutions will appear, grow, and evolve. But there is one thing they’ll never do:

Go away.