As a marketer, if you felt like 2018 was a tough year for you, you’re not alone. Marketing has grown exponentially more complex in recent years, and the demands of practitioners — from marketing managers to CMOs — have ballooned just as exponentially. Marketers are overwhelmed, and with good reason. A one size fits all approach to each marketing channel is far from the reality. There simply isn’t a solitary solution that resolves the myriad of marketing challenges, which raises the question, what’s next for Marketing Technology?
Challenge # 1: Fragmentation
The MarTech landscape is vast, encompassing around 7,000 individual service businesses each working to resolve one challenge within the marketing stack. According to a Kleiner Perkins study, the average enterprise marketing team currently uses 91 SaaS solutions. Cisco publicly shared their Marketing Operations software stack, and though it doesn’t include 91 point solutions, given their 39 individual marketing technologies, employees are not exactly experiencing a seamless user experience.
Challenge #2: Silo-ization
The core problem isn’t actually the number of different software applications being used, but it does contribute substantially to it. The primary challenge with each team using so many distinct point solutions is that it forces operators to work in silos. If a marketer on your team needs to find the content for a new campaign, they have to use one system. If they want to determine which creative asset performed best, they have to access a second system.
Then, if their manager wants to understand how the entire campaign affected the business, they must rely on a third system. The community manager uses yet a fourth disparate system. In each case, the systems don’t communicate, and there’s no common system of record. It’s up to the marketer to connect the dots.
Marketing must experience a transformation similar to that of product teams a decade ago when collaboration tools merged and integrated, tasks were broken into sub-tasks across teams, and each task was backed by data. Similarly, CMOs today are desperate to integrate all of their marketing operations into one unified platform. Marketing departments need solutions that allow every team member to work within the same ecosystem.
For example, designers could access messaging and graphics performance data to help them create more effective ads, and the performance team could access closed-loop sales data to optimize performance based on actual conversions rather than click-throughs or ad engagements. We recommend considering systems that contain the following components:
The System Glue
Look for platforms that support individual point solutions via APIs. Such a robust platform would enable the 39 SaaS solutions Cisco is using to connect seamlessly – including their data. Any additional software introduced into the ecosystem must plug into the platform via APIs and adhere to security requirements so it doesn’t compromise the security of the entire network. This is part of getting the marketing stack to be “enterprise ready.”
The Data Glue
Each SaaS system today offers its unique dataset that can be valuable to a multitude of marketing functions. It’s imperative that this data be made readily available to your entire organization. Having data available at each point enables each practitioner to understand how to improve his or her performance. Given the sheer quantity of data available today, the only way to process the data efficiently is through machine learning and automation. No individual data analytics team, no matter how talented, can crunch this much data effectively without the support of Machine Learning.
The Productivity Glue
Finally, MarTech needs to glue the workflow, boost efficiency and eliminate bottlenecks through better collaboration among different marketing departments. This is particularly important for globally distributed teams. If a design team is working on a campaign for a new product launch, they should be able to access any information from other departments or locations that could help inform their creative decisions. That entails having detailed access to information on audience personas and effective content, and it means being able to tap into creators and influencers — all in one place where designs can be shared and performance across campaigns can be easily understood.
Read More: The Wrong Way to Buy MarTech
What Does This Mean for CMOs in 2019?
In 2018 the number of SaaS services used by marketing departments will only grow. This is rightly so. As a senior leader, you need every tool you can access — even point solutions — to help you meet rising consumer expectations.
Now is the time to map your department’s complex software stack to understand which systems depend on each other or which systems would benefit from being connected via the data or productivity glues. 2019 could be the year when you integrate your point solutions together to create and scale significantly more effective marketing experiences and, at the same time, provide a seamless customer journey. Your customers are counting on it.