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Martech 2020

RIP the Martech stack

The martech stack, as we know it, is dead. 

The exact time of death is unknown, but it was sometime recently. The coroner’s report says it had been suffering for quite a while.

In its final years, it just about did the job. But now, the time has come to say your last words and lay the martech stack to rest.

Ok, to stretch this macabre analogy just a little further, what do we mean by martech stack? We’re talking about a body of technologies with some sort of CRM system at the head and a Multichannel Marketing Hub (or similar) in the middle. From there it’s a pick and mix of point solutions dangling like limbs; personalisation engines, a/b testing kits, a live chat platform, single-channel vendors etc

It’s a jumble of unwieldy, often heavy-touch systems that each address singular pain points. 

In other words, a Frankenstein’s monster assembled over the years in stages as new challenges and opportunities arose.

Why is the martech stack on the way out?

The stack as it was even just 3 or 4 years ago is outdated. The entire digital marketing landscape has changed in so many ways that’s no longer fit-for-purpose.

At a basic level, the rules of engagement are vastly different. There are tighter restrictions and obligations in place due to GDPR, CCPA and all of the other various data privacy acronyms set to be passed in the next few years. So a whole new set of tools, and a new approach to match, are needed to stay compliant and still deliver effective campaigns. 

And finally, the traditional stack is on the way out because there are emerging technologies and solutions that either do the job better, or present a new way of working entirely. The likes of Customer Data Platforms, A.I.-driven decision engines, Mobile Marketing Platforms and so on. The capabilities provided by these solutions may have existed to some extent via work-arounds and clunky integrations, but now they have been purpose-engineered and packaged.

What will replace the martech stack?

In place of the stack, we’ll see harmonious, “plug and play” ecosystems that crucially have fewer total moving parts. More technology, but fewer platforms.

The competition between a select few vendors with the capabilities needed will be ferocious. It’s survival of the fittest-for-purpose. Beyond the actual tools they will need to bring to the table are four essential underlying traits; interoperability, modularity, marketer-friendly and time-to-value.

  • Interoperability

The next generation of martech ecosystems will be built around solutions that play well with others. No single piece of technology can do everything, although there are some that do cover a lot of bases. 

The hallmark of a functioning ecosystem is the free flow of data between its constituent parts. No more silos, no more time-consuming uploading of one CSV file after another.

In the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of iPaaS (integration platforms as a service). These systems don’t “do” anything, per se, except join the dots between other technologies. The fact that such solutions exist, and that they are being snapped up by the old guard of enterprise suites, tells you just how bad the martech stack had become.

From here on in, it’s about platforms that seamlessly communicate with another. So if the solution doesn’t have an open API, steer clear of it. 

  • Modularity

Realistically, no-one is going to scrap their martech stack overnight and start from scratch. There’s going to be a transition period, where certain tools are phased out as their replacements are readied in the background.

One thing that we know is happening within the martech landscape is consolidation; solutions are emerging that combine advanced data management capabilities, multiple engagement channels, automation and journey building tools, A.I. and machine learning and so on.

But what if you don’t need all of that? Or perhaps you do want all, or most, of it but you have time remaining on existing contracts with your current vendors.

For us, that’s fine, because the Xtremepush platform has been engineered in a modular fashion. You can utilise the capabilities that you need right now, without the need to topple the whole house of cards you’ve built up at once. 

Our advice would be to exercise caution with any vendor that implies you need to buy everything on offer and stand it all up at the same time. 

  • Marketer-friendly

An entire industry has been built off the back of the typical enterprise suite’s complexity. Executing even the most  basic use case can often require hours of costly technical service days. 

What do marketers really  want? Intuitive U.I., dashboards built with the end-user in mind and, in general, a system that doesn’t require a degree in computer science to get the best from it.

  • Time-to-value

And finally, the era of year-long deployments is over. The next-generation of technology must offer a swift time-to-value. How long, from the moment the contract is signed, will it be before you start seeing an impact?

Vendors, and their clients, must start thinking about this in terms of weeks and months.

The martech ecosystem will be future-proof

The one thing that’s guaranteed is change.

Who knows what kinds of tools will be needed 5 years from now? 

These new ecosystems will not be driven solely by technology but by the philosophy of the vendors themselves. The solution on offer right now is only part of the equation. Ambitious brands, and the professionals leading them, are just as interested in a vendor’s roadmap.

Why? Because they’ve been through the process of completely changing their stack once or twice already, been hamstrung and frustrated by point solutions and become disillusioned with shortsighted vendors that weren’t putting resources into product development.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is leading the wave of next-generation vendors, providing a unified yet modular platform for customer understanding, engagement and decisioning. It’s a mobile-first, multichannel solution that is built with the needs of the modern marketing team in mind.

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