Insights, System Integration

Unicorns, Tools & Innovation! The Marketing Technology Revolution

Marketing Technology At Kanban--Rare & Beautiful!


The platitudes and statistics are well-known and oft-quoted:

  • 67% of companies are increasing marketing tech spend, according to Gartner.
  • Five of the top ten CEO priorities are focused on marketing technology.
  • And according to a recent eConsultancy survey, nearly 75% of participating companies had either just completed, were planning or were in the midst of completing a commerce technology overhaul.

But out of all the statistics surrounding the increasing unification of marketing and technology, perhaps the most compelling comes from a recent research report by Laura McLellan of Gartner. Within large companies — more than $500 million in annual revenue — 81% of them now have a chief marketing technologist role, up from 71% just a year ago. Another 8% expect to add that role within the next 24 months.

In Boston just last  month, the conversation around infusing long-held principals of marketing and technology into one discipline with similar goals and challenges continued with the MarTech 2014 conference. MarTech is the first conference to focus exclusively on marketing technologies, corporate change management, org structures and even how to acquire or grow talent for the new marketing reality. Organized by Scott Brinker, a leading evangelist for today’s marketing technologist, the conference focused on tools, innovation and unicorns.

Yes, unicorns.

According to Brinker and his merry band of marketing technologists, MarTech experts are rare, mythical creatures operating in our midst. Like the mythical unicorn, their scarcity is matched only by their beauty. They are part planner and part doer. They instigate, break down silos and drive innovation. They equally speak in code and in content, user experience and creative.  They get media and analytics. And when you see them at work, it’s pure magic.

Which begs the question: are you a unicorn? And if not, how can you become one? Ask yourself the following questions to see if you and your team posses some of the unique qualities of the marketing technology unicorn.  And don’t despair if you and your team have some gaps, content engineering organizations like Kanban are here to help.

Are you committed to innovation? 

As the Global Head of Marketing at Kimberly Clark, Mayar Gupta is surprisingly accepting of failure. His team views technology and defines processes in three categories: enterprise, localized and innovation. Innovation is such a priority that Kimberly Clark created an innovation lab to sidestep the norms of corporate culture.

The reality is that marketing technology is growing exponentially while most companies change in a linear fashion at best. To truly benefit, a company must embrace change. An innovation lab lets companies rapidly explore what works or at least fail fast. This long runway has allowed companies like WalMart, Fidelity, Nike and even Nordstrom to create innovation labs which test new features, develop applications, participate in open source forums and ultimately, introduce new features and technologies to corporate web properties and increase sales. This is a trend to consider for companies trying to break out of everyday tasks to start true innovation.

Are you a silo breaker?

While Laura McLellan was right on the money when she predicted that by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CTO, she made another bold statement at MarTech that got some raised eyebrows. She said that CMOs and CIOs have settled their differences and are now more willing to work together than ever.

This may be true but there are still major challenges. It was clear from other presentations that marketers and technologists are working together but have not yet solved differences in corporate goals, processes and even the language they use. In order to be truly successful, both marketers and technologists need to break out of the tight-knit communities they are born from and speak a language of success in any silo. Sure, your technologist can code, but is his or her app on brand? Sure, your marketer can write a brilliant ad campaign but will the coding be possible with the technology resources you have available? Educated, talented professionals who can break these silos will save their companies time, money and a boatload of unneeded headaches in the future.

Have you centralized data?  

Lisa Ritchie from ScotiaBank highlighted the importance of centralizing and normalizing data. ScotiaBank focuses on providing the central repository of information and powerful APIs that let each group use the tools that work best for analyzing the data. Without the centralized warehouse, there is no way to get one view of the customer.

As Wes Hunt from Nationwide stated — counting is hard! He pressed the importance of creating a standard taxonomy within an organization to make data meaningful. Define what a new customer is (i.e. is a return customer new to a division, new to the business as a whole or something else?) before pulling reports. That way, the numbers have more weight because everyone is pulling reports the same way, chasing the same data goals and working from the same data pool.

The same should go for a tagging structure. By defining your datasets, you ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all data is in the right place, available at the right time.

Despite changes across the marketing landscape, marketing is still about using your products and services to connect with a need or an emotion point that your customers have and telling a story that puts your product or service at the center, filling that need. The only difference is marketing technologists do all of this faster. By managing data effectively and having a plan for future technological opportunities, they are prepared to adapt their content to more places before the next opportunity comes along. They understand the limits and applications of the technologies they operate on and see opportunities coming sooner than their Mad Men marketing counterparts.

Marketing technologists are a rare breed…are you among them? Let us know. Tweet @kanbansolutions. #unicorn.


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