MarTech West 2018 – Insights, Intelligence and Instincts

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A few weeks back I was fortunate enough to attend MarTech West in San Jose, California. MarTech is a tech conference for marketers and marketing conference for technologists – it’s where all the best ideas and latest innovations in marketing, technology and management collide.

Simple LogoFor Simple, it was an opportunity for us to launch our Intelligent Marketing Platform in the US, discover what’s hot in MarTech land and bond with colleagues that we usually only get to meet with via a Hangout.

As I was packing my suitcase with Koala keyrings and Boomerang magnets, I started to think about what was to come over the next four days. How many times would AI and Machine Learning be mentioned? If I received a dollar each time they were mentioned, how much money would I walk away with? Ok, so my thoughts were a little more in-depth than that, and yes, I came back with a few more insights – here’s a quick wrap-up.

The Marketing Technology Landscape – yep, it’s bigger than ever!

No matter how many times this slide is referenced it’s still mind-blowing. Scott Brinker (MarTech chair, editor of and all-round amazing guy) unveiled his latest Marketing Technology Landscape and this year, I really had to squint!

Over 1,500 MarTech solutions have been added since last year – that’s a 27% increase, meaning we’re now looking at 6,242 vendors in 48 categories. This, combined with more than 100 exhibitors at this year’s event made me realize just how exciting it is to be a marketer!

We’re at the forefront of emerging technologies and while it can sometimes be a little overwhelming, we have access to an unprecedented number of tools that, if used correctly, will help transform the way organizations work. I think it’s time we find a way to work around the chaos and complexity and embrace the tools which are going to help us get stuff done.

And while there’s a lot of talk around ‘robots taking everyone’s jobs’, much of what I discovered at the event made me realize that it doesn’t matter how many tools become available — you’re still going to need the insights, intelligence and instincts of marketers to piece the puzzle together.

Also Read: 6 Steps To Creating A Video Marketing Strategy That Works

“Marketers aren’t born to be project managers” – it all starts from the top!

This came up in a discussion I was having with a fellow delegate around why so many teams fail to successfully implement planning/collaboration software. It’s a familiar situation – you choose a great piece of software, roll it out internally and assume all the hard work is done.

It became clear in the days that followed, that with so many tools available to us, we need to read between the lines and ensure that we adopt tools that make not only our lives but our teams’ lives, easier.

Scott Brinker and Anand Thaker highlighted this as they delved into The State of MarTech. Technology can sometimes magnify challenges within your organization. This means that your people and processes need to be in order before any implementation – here’s how they described it:

  • Customer values a brand by experiences
  • Experiences are delivered by people
  • People are managed by leaders
  • Leaders set the tone

In saying this, the entrants in this year’s Stackie Awards (there were 54 entries) provided great insights and showed that it can be done at scale. Large enterprise organizations such as Cisco and Janus Henderson (previously Janus Capital Group and Henderson Group) have managed to streamline their marketing tech stacks and make them work on a global scale.

Also Read: How Technology Is Giving the Hospitality Industry a Much-Needed Boost in Today’s Digital Age

Get back to basics

There are a lot of ‘shiny things’ for us to focus on, but how many times do we take a step back and evaluate some of the tools/processes we put in place right at the beginning?

I had a few conversations around marketing pain points and many of these revolved around basic principles that we’ve implemented and then set and forgot: everything from briefing to workflows and even the initial setup of software solutions.

Lissa Daniels reinforced this as she spoke about data-driven marketing and in particular, attribution marketing; while Sameer Khan also tied attribution into the importance of understanding the customer journey.

This got me thinking – while the introduction of new technologies is exciting and definitely something we need to embrace, we must be prepared for how we’re going to use them. You can get all the data you like coming in, but if you don’t have a firm foundation for how to understand and generate usable insights from that data, how are you supposed to build on top of it?

All in all, MarTech West came at the perfect time. For Simple, we were able to better understand the market we’re playing in and we came away confident that we have the product, people and positioning to be very competitive in that market.

And for me personally, I’ve learnt that while there’s so much happening in our space, sometimes you need to take a step back, reflect and take the time to filter through the insights, uncover the right intelligence and trust your own instincts.

Also Read: Blockchain in Advertising: The Implications for Every Player in the System

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