Report: Rapid evolution of martech catches companies off guard

But gap is closing between martech innovation and adoption

The lion’s share of marketers can’t keep up with the dizzying pace of change in the martech industry, according to a new report.

The Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017 report, called Closing the Gap Between Martech Innovation and Adoption, found more than half of marketers (56 per cent) think the martech industry is evolving faster than their companies’ use of marketing technology, and only 9 per cent say their companies are outpacing the industry when it comes to technology adoption.

“Marketers are a tech-savvy group, and they’ve been frustrated in the past at their companies’ relatively slow adoption of marketing technology,” said Dave Parro, a partner and vice-president who leads the marketing technology practice at Walker Sands. “That seems to be changing, though, and they’re becoming much more optimistic about innovation within their organisations.”

The study was aimed at revealing how marketers are responding to the rapid evolution of the martech landscape, and reflects the strides companies have made in their use of martech and the challenges that lie ahead. It was based on a survey of more than 300 US professional marketers.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said the martech landscape is evolving at light speed or rapidly, compared to only a third (33 per cent) who say the same thing about their companies’ use of marketing technology.

But in contrast to last year’s lacklustre findings, the report highlighted some positive advancement. For example, marketers now think their companies are starting to “close the gap between martech innovation and adoption”, and that companies have made significant progress over the past year when it comes to adoption.

More than double the number of marketers now call their companies innovators or early adopters in marketing technology adoption compared to a year ago (48 per cent versus 20 per cent).

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of marketers expect their companies’ marketing technology budgets to increase in 2017, and only 2 per cent expect a decrease. The report also noted companies are increasing martech budgets, and putting up fewer roadblocks.

It also revealed seven out of 10 marketers (71 per cent) believe their companies invest the right amount in martech, up from 50 per cent a year ago. The number of marketers who feel the marketing technology in place at their organisation helps them do their jobs more effectively also increased from 58 per cent to 69 per cent year over year.

“The marketing technology adoption rate progress can be attributed to a combination of factors, including growing martech budgets, less internal resistance and more marketers recognising the need for new tools. The implementation and integration of new technology is also getting easier. This is a trend that has the potential to shape the marketing technology landscape in a dramatic way,” the report stated.

In addition, the study found rapid evolution of the martech landscape appears to be shaping how marketers build their technology stacks. Instead of getting locked into single-vendor suites, the reports showed marketers are gravitating toward integrated best-of-breed architecture, which gives them the agility, flexibility and diversity of technology they can’t find in all-in-one solutions. Nearly half (48 per cent) have embraced best-of-breed stacks made up of multiple tools instead of single-vendor suites (21 per cent) because of better integration capabilities.

In terms of martech investment in 2017, the study found a third of marketers plan to purchase a social media marketing tool in 2017, the most popular pick, followed by ad tech (28 per cent), email marketing (27 per cent) and analytics (24 per cent).

The obstacles to martech adoption, however, included budget; internal resistance to change; difficulty of implementation/integration; lack of information; lack of executive buy-in; and lack of interest.

“While budget remains the largest single obstacle to adoption, that number dropped significantly since last year, when 69 per cent of marketers felt constrained by budget. Today, only half of marketers (50 per cent) cite spending restraints as a factor holding them back from implementing new martech,” the report found.

“Given the improved state of marketing technology heading into 2017, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about where the industry is headed this year.”

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