Guest post by Karo Kilfeather
Fashionistas have the Vogue September issue. Salesforce nerds have Dreamforce. Six year olds have Christmas. Every group in the world has something that they look forward to each year, just once a year with rabid, barely contained glee. For those of us obsessed with marketing technology, we have Scott Brinker’s annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.
If you’ve followed its annual release from 2011 on, you know that this space has seen rapid growth that’s hard to compare to anything else, except maybe projections of how quickly a zombie virus outbreak might take over the planet. From 150 to nearly 4000 relevant players, it’s a crowded, lively landscape that can quickly overwhelm those who try to absorb it all.
Aside from informing marketers about key solutions, this year’s graphic has also found utility in several new areas. Try testing it it out for some of these helpful—if unorthodox—uses:
- Eye chart to test your vision—or ability to cross your eyes
- Spirited game of Where’s Waldo with your company logo and how its size compares to your competitor
- Speed test for your browser and wifi connection in different corners of your office
- Fun game to play with your kids: see how far they can quietly count!
- Replacement for the jelly-bean jar at your local fundraiser for anyone who wants to guess the number and win a prize
- Way to discourage your nephew who is planning to be a designer: apparently unique logos are very hard to design
- Project for a linguistic anthropologist who wants to extrapolate something about marketing technologists from the weird names they invent for their products
- Memory game with infinite possibilities for silly mnemonic devices
- Visual aid to replace counting sheep when you just can’t doze off (just remember to use the night vision mode on Apple Devices)
Once you’ve exhausted these novel uses, or invented a few of your own, you can settle into your comfy Aeron chair and reflect on what the rapid expansion of marketing technology solutions is telling us about the market and the future of our work.
Scott Brinker’s reading of these particular tea leaves is that a crowded but fragmented market means markers are still not finding everything they want. They continue to cobble together Franken-solutions because not one platform or combination of tools provides them with exactly the solution they need. This suggests that easy cross-platform integration will be essential for upstarts who want to last. In a playground this vast and diverse, it will pay to play well with others.
Finally, and this is true of any rapid expansion, a consolidation is the likely next stage. Breaking into saturated markets will get harder for products not poised to truly disrupt. Through a combination of integration, acquisition, and attrition, the number of martech solutions is going to shrink, and only the strong will remain.
This is a critical time for marketers to aggressively explore the options available to them, to truly understand how technology can serve marketing needs, and exert pressure on vendors to deliver refined, robust, complete solutions.
As you exercise your consumer right to make markets and products evolve, also take the time to consider the nature of marketing problems today and how they might look tomorrow. For every shape nail, the right hammer will present itself. Someone will happily develop the technology for the problem you think you have. Don’t hesitate to take a step back from the onslaught and the supergraphic to reflect on the basics: your strategy, your goals, and how you plan to reach them. That clarity will ultimately lead you to the right solution—whether you’re choosing among three options or 3874.