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A Perspective on the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic 2014

When Scott Brinker teased out to the marketplace some new marketing technology categories and the respective technology brands within each category, he obviously knew at the time just how immense and crowded the landscape would look. He profoundly likened it to“…. a red ocean.”

Of course, I was excited to see that Black Ink made the short list, as many organizations didn’t (Maybe due to space? Maybe they just didn’t cut the mustard?). At first I was puzzled over why he would have placed us in the Marketing Resource Management category, but since Scott is a thought leader, I let it slide until the entire eco-system was further evaluated and explained from his point of view.

So back in December 2013, I asked, “Where is all the red?” I got my answer when the new 2014 supergraphic landscape appeared with over 950 vendors across six major categories. Oh my…look at that sea of red!

After consuming his visual logic, I still wondered why Black Ink was placed into the MRM category. After all, Black Ink doesn’t do what they do, and vice versa. The only connection I could make is the financial management portion of MRM, but it tends to be operational and based at the spend level (the “I” of “ROI”), not at the enterprise performance, fiscal performance level (the “R” of “ROI”).

I asked Scott why, and his response was smart. While he makes the case for why we should not be in MRM, he also calls out the need for a more strategic category regarding marketing financial.

His response was as follows:

”I think what Black Ink is doing at the intersection between marketing and finance is very exciting. I know the “MRM” category doesn’t fully do that justice — what you’re doing is quite different than most of the other vendors in that cluster. But with the increasing interest in aligning CMOs and CFOs, I suspect that “marketing finance” may soon be a well-known category in its own right.” – Scott Brinker

So as much as Scott did an excellent job, and I mean excellent, of creating these six categories and perspectives for developing them, I thought about what this landscape might look like through the eyes of a CMO and his/her peer level set.

Here are my key take-aways:

Help! Just when you thought you had all your bases covered regarding the vendors who can serve your needs, there’s more than you thought. While some businesses conduct business less universally than others, there are still plenty of vendors to get to know in each category, along with their respective differences. Of course, this assumes your definition of a category is similar. Scott was smart enough to keep these broad and create big enough sandboxes for many to play in.

Emerging, and then Converging
Many of these vendors, Black Ink included, are not the Big Blues of the world. This leads me to believe that the next two to five years will see acquisitions galore, at an even greater pace than in previous years.

CMO + CFO
Many of the big six categories support running marketing like a business, but there is no top-line executive performance management category. This horizontal, top-down view of the entire marketing enterprise is critical for CMOs partnering with their finance team, so that the entire C-Suite may see eye to eye on the most important Key Performance Indicators (and keep the corner office in the loop). With more than a trillion dollars spent on advertising alone, and nearly half of that wasted by not measuring marketing ROI, it’s about time finance and marketing made friends.

CMO + CIO
No wonder the CIO wants a land grab from this landscape. However, one could argue that dealing with the hassles of the IT department has, in part, created the problem. Heck, any number of these vendors, Black Ink included, are cloud-based/Saas-based because it’s easier to turn on and get going.

In marketing, the consumer speed dictates the speed of marketing. Waiting around for a year-long RFP process just doesn’t cut it. However, I suspect that interlocking process, and even standardizing key vendors, will start at the bottom of the stack and move up (e.g., Databases, Big Data, Cloud, Infrastructure, CRM, Ecommerce). Not surprisingly, this is where most of the elephants live anyway (e.g., Teradata, IBM, Oracle, SAP). I would have the CMO fight battles where it can win (from the middle up on the chart).

Point Solutions = Tactical Stuff
Marketing is notorious for trying new stuff in a very tactical manner. The cycle of try, win/fail, learn, and try again is the DNA of many organizations. For better or worse, marketing seems to attempt many point solutions and act as a pilot fish across these work streams and emerging media channels.

Consultants and Analysts
When the world gets complex, they make more money. Period.

It will be interesting to see what will unfold in 2014 and what shifts are still ahead for the marketing technology landscape.

By Jeff Winsper

Jeff is the President of Black Ink and offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.

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