VP Platform Ecosystem, HubSpot
Salesforce Dreamforce is one of the biggest software conferences in the world. In the run-up to this event, we unveil our special TechByte series featuring high-profile Dreamforce attendees and MarTech Champions. We spoke to one the foremost experts on Martech, Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem, HubSpot, to find out what brings him to Dreamforce.
MTS: What are your thoughts on the consolidation in the martech vendor space over the past 7 years?
Scott Brinker: The martech vendor space is fascinating because it has been consolidating and expanding simultaneously for the past 7 years.
How is that possible? It’s consolidating because, over time, there have been a lot of acquisitions of martech companies, especially by the large “marketing cloud” providers. I recently analyzed 142 martech companies from 2010 and found that over 61% of them have been consolidated.
Yet at the same time, the overall landscape has been expanding at an extraordinary rate. The latest martech landscape that Anand Thaker and I produced in the spring of this year charted around 5,000 marketing technology companies.
This is driven by supply-side and demand-side factors. On the supply-side, the barriers to entry to creating software products are near zero, thanks to infrastructure-as-a-service and open source. On the demand-side, the growing scope of marketing — and the explosion of new marketing touchpoints and tactics — has created tremendous opportunity for innovative software startups to solve new marketing problems and help marketers better adapt to a rapidlychanginge environment.
MTS: What is your biggest draw to attend Dreamforce 2017? What marketing technologies are you specifically looking to explore at Dreamforce?
Scott: Dreamforce is a fantastic example of a business software ecosystem at scale. It’s exciting to be able to meet so many different contributors in that community.
When I go to Dreamforce — or other events in this space — I prefer to approach it as an open-minded expedition of discovery. I’m interested in learning about marketing technologies that I hadn’t even heard of before, as well as new capabilities from existing vendors that I wasn’t anticipating. I’m looking to expand my mental model of what’s possible. And, one thing I’ve learned for certain in this industry: give a dozen martech vendors the time to demo their latest-and-greatest, and I guarantee that you will be surprised by what’s possible today that wasn’t even imagined a year ago.
MTS: How would GDPR impact a B2B company’s roadmap to managing data for customer experience and intelligence?
Scott: We need better control over the data we store. GDPR is a powerful catalyst for that, since the costs of not complying are so steep and quite tangible. But frankly, the cost of low quality or ungoverned data in marketing has been high for some time. Just very hard to quantify it. I’m glad the industry is starting to prioritize good data governance as the foundation of the modern marketing stack.
Consumers are willing to share data in exchange for value. But if we don’t deliver the value, they deserve the right to revoke that permission. I don’t think GDPR fundamentally changes this bargain: it simply makes it more explicit.
I think the word “conversation” is really important.
Conversational interfaces, such as chatbots and voice interfaces, are going to be a huge channel for marketing in the year ahead. I believe conversational interfaces will lend themselves to earning permission from customers on a more natural, incremental basis. You earn permission with every response in a dialog. But since this is a relatively new channel and communications context, we’ve got a lot of work to do to understand and deliver the best practices for it.
MTS: What’s the next frontier for automation and inbound marketing platforms to foster better interactions in connecting to prospects?
Scott: I’ll double down on conversational interfaces. This is the most exciting new paradigm in digital marketing since social media.
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Scott.
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