Sparks from a sparkler

MarTech 2016 – Industry Grows as the Mid-market Lags Behind

I just returned from MarTech 2016, a conference that focuses on marketing technologies and their adoption.  It has been interesting watching the significant growth of products and technologies that are expanding our digital experiences.  Gone are the days when simple custom applications drive the experience.  Today we are inundated with over 3,500 technologies that can be leveraged to manage our web content, personalize our experience, score our leads, aggregate our data, and much more.  If you don’t follow Scott Brinker (, you are missing out.  Scott is an advocate for the use of technology and has spent a great deal of effort to identify (and categorize) the technologies used in today’s digital experience.  Scott does a great job hosting this annual event.

This is my second time attending MarTech and the growth from last year was significant.  Last year there were about 1,000 participants and this year it had to be close to 1,500.  The growth in the number of participating vendors was significant, too.  If you are in the learning and evaluating phase of buying marketing technologies, I suggest attending the event next year as you will have access to most of the leading vendors.

As I attended sessions and reflected on the material, I identified a few key themes from the conference.

  1. The number of vendors continues to growth and we may be close to a plateau. Last year Scott identified approximately 2,000 vendors in the space.  In his updated projections (for 2016) he identified 3,500 vendors.  This growth is staggering considering the diversity of solutions and sheer volume that currently exists. The differentiation between products in specific categories is shrinking.  We are seeing some consolidation and acquisition into the larger platforms and expect that trend to continue. The VC community also commented that it is harder and harder to invest in these technologies since their current portfolios are starting to get full.
  2. Mid-Market is way behind. It was fascinating to learn  from the larger, more mature organizations leveraging 20 or more technologies in their marketing stack.  However, based on the questions and my interaction with other participants, the mid-market (i.e. smaller organizations) is still struggling to get WCMS and marketing automation tools fully operational and useful.  I expect that this gap will continue and that smaller organizations will have a much slower pace of adoption. It is clear that the fast-moving companies are adopting multiple marketing technologies.
  3. AI and machine-based learning is on the rise. AI and machine-based learning is currently in the infant stages but most likely will have significant growth in the next three years.
  4. Agile practices are being implemented in marketing and marketing operations.  Agile marketing, Lean UX, and other “agile” buzzwords were widely discussed. Organizations are starting to implement some aspects of Agile in their marketing initiatives.  I expect this trend will grow significantly  as Agile adoption continues to take over the software development space.