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WebSesh: 2021 Martech Predictions Write Up

by Holly Ripley, on 22 January, 2021

And just like that we’ve been catapulted into a brand-new year. While start of 2021 may be starting to feel suspiciously like the year we thought we’d left behind, we’ve got some brand spankin’ new martech predictions to remind you that the year ahead is just getting started. If you couldn’t make the live sesh, don’t sweat it, we’re about to round it up in words. Aaand if words aren’t your thing – you can always watch the full sesh below.

For all you keen readers still with us, meet our A-Team: Moni Oolyde and Alex de Fursac Gash along with our very own, Carlos Doughty. The ultimate triple threat.

The man that needs no introduction, (but we’ll give him one anyway) Carlos Doughty, the Founder of the MarTech Alliance and best known for his martech strategy maturity framework and the creator of the 4P’s of Marketing Technology.

Moni Oloyede, Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity, armed with the perspective of a practitioner with over 10 years of marketing technology experience under her belt.

Last, but certainly not least, Alex de Fursac Gash, Senior Director for Gartner’s Marketing Advisory team, serving marketing executives across the globe. 

Carlos, Moni and Alex dive into the hottest marketing topics from budgets, talent to martech maturity evaluations as they cast a little more clarity on the potential trends 2021 has to offer…

Budgets

We asked our live websesh audience:

Which best describes your martech budget this year vs last?

Increased 61.5%
Decreased 8%
Same as last year 19%
Unsure 11.5%

 

Let’s begin with the age-old question: “What patterns are we going to see in martech budgets this year?” While we’re optimistic for a more predictable year than the last, there’s still a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding our budget spend this year. Will we see them hold, decline or increase? Let’s ask the experts.

Alex kicks us off with our first foresight. He expects martech budgets to increase towards the end of the year. It takes time to invest and be sure of the benefits before you think about reinvesting. The whole process is cyclical. Taking this into account alongside economic factors, Alex’s gut feeling is that we’ll start to see the incline on spend before the end of the year.

Moni agrees. She sees 2021 a tale of two halves, with a conservative first half followed by an explosive second.

Carlos predicts that organisations who need to accelerate their digital transformation as part of a pandemic pivot will find martech budgets increase drastically. However, other organisations more mature in their martech already will be flatter on spend and look to drive greater return on their existing stack. But that’s not to say those companies who are flat on spend won’t be spending on new tech. Many of these organisations may use the pandemic to renegotiate more competitive renewal rates with existing providers, freeing up budget for new tech without increasing their overall spend.

Martech Category Trends

Let’s take a look at what our experts expect to see in terms of investment in categories and trends.

Digital Commerce

Alex predicts a boom in digital commerce throughout this year, for obvious reasons; the pandemic forcing more of us to shop online, but also because our customers are asking more of us in terms of the experience. Ecommerce needs to be more than just a good buying experience, it has to be a great discovery and end-to-end customer experience too. Carlos also added that this could be the year that social commerce also booms and digital commerce expands in another directions.

Data Management & Privacy

Moni sees Data management & privacy being a big player in 2021. In order to deliver a fantastic customer experience, we will need better data management. And so the data trade-off begins.

Digital Experience

We’re not even one month in and we’ve already witnessed the largest funding in martech history. Sitecore receiving an incredible $1.2 Billion in funding shows there’s a strong demand for DXPs. Our experts didn’t need to look too far into their crystal balls to tell us this is another category to watch in 2021.

Events Tech

Our A-team are under no illusion that virtual events will take the place of in-person when they return. While an interim solution for some during the pandemic, there are many who already claim they’ve had their fill. While we’ve seen huge injections of funding in this space over the last year, including the likes of Bizzabo and Hopin, Moni stays certain that as soon as in-person opens up, events tech won’t be such a hot topic.

Carlos suggests the possibility of social platforms such as LinkedIn to join the event tech space as the platform expands on its LinkedIn Live and events features to compete in the space, it could even swallow up one of the major players.

Other growing categories...

Other growing categories to keep your eyes on include workflow management / remote working solutions (we don’t need to tell you why). Whether that be communication, working streams or event digital asset management platforms (DAMs). There have been several telling signs in the M&A world over the last year, from Salesforce acquiring Slack to Adobe acquiring Workfront. Another category to look out for are social listening to better understand changing consumer habits and sales. And finally while this didn't get covered on the websesh we are have seen increasing demand for salestech solutions to boost sales productivity. 

Talent

We asked our live websesh audience:

Please tick ALL the options which bets describe your martech talent plans in 2021

We do not plan on investing in hiring or upskilling individuals responsible for marketing data/tech 9.5%
We plan on investing in upskilling individuals responsible for marketing data/tech 38%
We plan to hire more individuals responsible for marketing data/tech 28.5%
We plan to hire more individuals responsible for marketing data/tech & We plan on investing in upskilling individuals responsible for marketing data/tech 24%

 

Following a record-breaking year in the surge of digital transformation, our team sees a continued skill shortage of marketing ops, marketing technologists or to wrap in all roles of this type - those in marketing responsible for data and technology - more now than ever as the demand of these skills are higher than ever.

In order to adjust the shortage, our experts suggest separating out the scope. In other words, the demands of these roles need to lessen. Senior Marketing Operations Manager, Moni sees first-hand that this often becomes an all-encompassing role, and too often is the case where all things related to marketing technology and ops piled on top. This makes it hard to educate and grow these roles because there are so many factions. We need to trade depth and breadth at some point. In order to address the skill shortage the industry is facing, we need to redefine this role and pin it back down to focus more.

Alex adds, the shortage doesn’t just stop on technical skills but the importance of collaboration and influence to bring stakeholders and teams together. It is very tough finding people that can do it all, from a range of technical requirements as well as collaboration.

Upgrading your Martech Maturity

Finally, our A-team leave us with some solid advice to drive your martech maturity for this year, and beyond.

1. Start by forgetting the tech


Make sure you cover the fundamentals of marketing to get the most from your tech. Tech won't solve it all. If you’re missing the branding, value proposition and messaging, r, you’ll fall short.

2. Evaluate your existing stack


If you haven’t already, make the time to take in the first quarter of this year and properly evaluate your stack. There is a lot of stack bloat. Taking the time now will benefit you for the whole year going forward.

3. New tech is never set and forget


Major tech solutions need time be fully integrated, configured, adopted and supported. Its not a case of set and forget. It will take time to get full value from your solution, be realistic about whats involved. And understand this investment is part of the broader business goals. It needs to be strategically aligned to deliver the ultimate that value.

4. Talent & training – Invest in both


Tech is only ever going to be tech. There are too many organisations that are guilty of not having enough people to do the job or marketers lacking the skills to do a good job. Investment in tech is too often prioritised over talent and training, which results in the tech not doing what it should. The tech is only as good as whoever is driving it.

*Shameless plug* - Feeling inspired to make this year count? Find out more about our martech digital learning courses here or book a time with Frenci to ask any questions. Make 2021 your year of profession progression.

Want to watch the full 2021 Martech predications session? Of course you do... Jump in below.

Topics:MarTechMust seeCarlos DoughtyAlex de Fursac GashMoni Oloyede2021 Predictions

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