A couple of weeks ago, we hosted the MarTech West conference in San Jose. My personal thanks to all of the amazing speakers who brought such passion and insight to their martech-in-the-real-world presentations — you were awesome.
Rather than offer my “hot takes” of the event a few days later, I decided to take a little more time to rest and reflect on what I personally took away from the experience.
There were so many fascinating discussions on so many different topics. But it wasn’t just what I heard that stuck with me. It was also what I didn’t hear that struck me as remarkable. If I were to distill it into one overarching conclusion, it would be this:
The myth of martech consolidation is dead.
No, I don’t mean there will never be any further consolidation in the martech industry. Yes, the “big martech” firms of Adobe, HubSpot (disclaimer: I’m VP platform ecosystem), IBM, Marketo, Oracle, Salesforce, etc., are still growing bigger, acquiring or vanquishing other martech firms. And, yes, I expect that trend to continue into the foreseeable future. Martech is a long tail with a fat head.
But given fundamental shifts in software and marketing, it’s a really, really long tail.
Even if a cataclysmic “martech armageddon” wiped out half of the landscape in a single year, there’d still be thousands of martech companies left. And new ones would instantly spring up.
It’s surprising how unsurprising martech’s diversity has become
At MarTech’s opening keynote, Anand Thaker and I released the 2018 edition of the marketing technology landscape. It grew by another 27% this year, now charting 6,829 different martech solutions. And we’ve already heard from dozens of firms we missed. (Interesting aside: if we only missed about 5%, that would be about the same number that were on the entire 2012 landscape.)
The graphic itself was beautifully rendered this year by the team at martech landscape:
This year? Crickets.
After shouting that “the martech sky is falling!” for years, only to have the sky grow bigger and bigger, the consolidation prognosticators have collectively shrugged and moved on.
Chalk one up for the empiricists
For what it’s worth, I certainly don’t claim this outcome is evidence of any fortune-telling skills of my own. Sure, I’ve had theories about why martech might not consolidate the way others insisted it would. But I’ve acknowledged that they were just that, theories. marketing technology landscape has never been a prediction of the future. It’s simply an inventory of what is at a given moment in time.
Getting better at applying martech was the number one topic of discussion at MarTech. Three themes kept recurring:
- MarTech last month.