Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Top 10 insights from the 2016 Marketing Technology Symposium

Marketing Tech Symposium opening keynote


Following the 2016 Marketing Technology Symposium, we take a look at the key takeaways from the event.

Everyone is afraid of the Lumascape

With at least four presentations referencing the MarTech Lumascape, it is clear that the sheer volume of companies playing in this space is frightening the bejesus out of marketers. “I don’t take a lot of vendor meetings because of this,” HPE’s May Petry commented during her presentation pointing to the Lumascape. The takeaway: Hands up those praying for consolidation in the space.

MarTech Lumscape

We’re really shit at change

According to a Harvard study quoted by Andy Lark, 97% of people who face a life-changing event were told if they didn’t change they would die. If this is how we deal with change when it comes to something as serious as our health, it’s little wonder businesses are struggling to embrace change. As Lark said, “We choose death over change.” If marketers continue to struggle with change, they could well be choosing death also – the death of the businesses they run. The takeaway: Seems like now is the time to make a change.

People still matter

Although technology is at the top of the to-do list for most if not all of today’s marketers, people really do still matter. And that includes the people running the tech as well as those it is trying to reach. Forgetting that we are trying to use the technology at our disposal to speak to real human beings has consequences as DT’s Shaun Rowland noted. He cited examples such as the famous Target catalogue targeting debacle in the US which saw a teenager being marketed baby products. Rowland said: “These people weren’t treated on a human level. They were treated on a segment level.” HPE’s Petry added: “The people element cannot be underestimated.” She implored us not to discount the time it takes for training and enablement when implementing technology within any business. The takeaway: The robots aren’t in control. Yet.

Dashboards are a marketer’s secret weapon

With all of the information available to today’s marketers, many are drowning in data but there’s a surefire way to put this information to work: a custom-built dashboard. According to Lark, team members would pop into his office when he was the CMO of Commonwealth Bank to simply see the dashboard in action. The end result of having a dashboard built was additional resources to achieve his marketing goals. Lark reckons, “You will get anything you want once you have the most beautiful dashboards.” The takeaway: Best get building.

Andy Lark

Even in a world ruled by marketing technology, TV isn’t dead

Between Sky UK’s David Fisher, AOL’s Yasmin Sanders and ThinkTV’s Rowena Newman, the message was clear: TV is not the victim in the surge of marketing technology. While Sanders admits, “There are definite challenges we are facing in the industry. I don’t need to show you another Lumascape to show you what is going on,” TV has plenty to gain from the rise of marketing technology. As Sky UK’s Fisher said, marketing technology is improving the customer experience for TV viewers in terms of more personalised communications and even content. And technology is also helping TV to show it’s true worth with Sanders saying: “We are beginning to get scientific proof that proves TV is at the forefront of the consumer’s mindset.” The takeaway: Long live TV.

Marketers no longer have the luxury of time

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.” Ditto for today’s marketers who are struggling to stay ahead of the game when it comes to adopting technology. Forget about referring to an outdated technology adoption curve. That’s gone out the window according to Lark. The pace has upped significantly since the model was designed. The takeaway: In the words of Lark, “We think we’ve got time to deploy all this technology. You don’t have time any longer.”

The outliers could be the key to your MarTech success

Shaun Rowland from DT encouraged the attendees at the Marketing Technology Symposium not to write off the outliers when it comes to analysing data. He said: “Often when looking at data we are told to ignore the outliers but actually innovation and interesting areas to explore are the outliers. Innovation doesn’t come from the mainstream.” Rowland cited the example of personal finance app Mint, a web-based personal financial management service. Rowland explained that the entrepreneur behind the business went out to the streets and asked people if the app would be of use to them. “Nine out of 10 people said ‘No, no interest whatsoever. I don’t really understand the concept.’ But there was one out of every 10 that did find it interesting and he thought, ‘That’s enough for me to start investing in this business and building on that one out of 10.’” The takeaway: If all of your competitors are using MarTech to chase the nine out of 10, why not shoot for the remaining one percent?

Shaun Rowland

Silos are still a thing and they’re causing heaps of problems

Today’s brands and marketers have a laundry list of things to get their heads around from marketing automation, programmatic advertising, CRMs, customer experience programs, NPS tracking and content marketing to name just a few. It takes teams of people to make all of this happen so it’s little surprise the different operations that fall under the marketing banner can become distant from each other. DT’s Shaun Rowland commented: “We quite often see silos between the brand team and the MarTech team.” Silos, it seems, continue to plague brands and with more options being added to the above list, this doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better soon. The takeaway: Now is the time to find a way to break down the barriers.

Marketing automation is like CRM five years ago

It’s the latest buzzword on everyone’s lips but most marketers are failing at it according to Rob Brown. During his presentation, Brown encouraged people to forget about it altogether unless they have a clear strategy. He said: “This is the most common reason I see people failing at this: they have no idea what to do with the platform.” The takeaway: Brown has trained hundreds of marketers in using marketing automation tools but it looks like there are many more folks he is yet to show the ways.

Watch out sales teams

Much like talk about silos, the debate around people being put out of a job by automated processes rages on. In the words of Lark: “The really smart CMO is thinking ‘I can make my sales force obsolete by using technology’.” Referring to examples of companies such as Airbnb, Lark spoke about digital being fundamentally integral to the product, the offering, and the business. “Anyone talk to a nervous salesperson lately?” asked Lark. “Anyone been to Airbnb to talk to their sales team about their next booking? These companies use technology to entirely eliminate the value of a salesperson.” The end result is freeing up additional funds that can be spent on the technology itself and the results for businesses doing just that, as Lark noted, speak for themselves. The takeaway: Stop thinking of digital as an add-on and if you work in sales, it might be worth diversifying.

Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.