2016 may finally be behind us, but the momentum from some truly remarkable innovations in B2B martech will almost certainly come to define the year ahead.
That fact has given many pundits and commentators in the space a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) dose of confidence in issuing their predictions for 2017. But it’s also made those predictions somewhat… predictable.
For example, you don’t need to be a genius to know that artificial intelligence will play an even greater role in B2B marketing, or lead generation in general. With the near-daily advances in AI technology – and with Apple now finally throwing its considerable resources behind academic research in the field – 2017 is bound to bring with it some truly exciting advances.
So, despite Leadspace’s love of all things AI-related, I’ll be leaving those predictions to one side to focus on some more basic issues which will define the martech industry this year.
1) Data will rule
There are so many vendors in the demand generation and marketing ops spaces who are all saying the same things. 2017 will be the year of change, where only the strong ones pull ahead. And to be strong you need the best data.
You can have the best predictive modelling teams in the world, and the most powerful AI/machine learning technology around – but if your data is low quality the results will be poor.
Only companies that invest time and effort on systemically controlling and improving data quality, before applying sophisticated scoring and modelling, will be left standing.
The game is on…
2) ABM will become a standard
B2B marketing trigger warning: The whole hype around account-based marketing (ABM) is partially manufactured. The idea itself is not new and sales teams have been selling to accounts since the B2B days of yore.
The only thing that has changed is that marketing technology has evolved radically over the past few years and can now support a holistic ABM approach, which means it’s catching on in a big way among B2B marketers.
But the idea is still pretty basic, even in the digital world. In 2017, expect the whole buzz around ABM to largely disappear to provide “room” for more exciting things.
None of this is meant to play down the effectiveness of ABM. In fact, quite on the contrary: account-based marketing is so straightforward, logical and – most importantly – so remarkably effective, that it will soon graduate from the “hype” stage to becoming a basic standard which isn’t worth talking about too much. (Kind of like Windows in the early 2000s – everybody had it so it wasn’t interesting to talk about.)
If anything, that maturing of the discourse towards ABM (together with the moderating of expectations around it) will allow for greater efficacy. (See Gartner’s Hype Cycle.)
Returning to prediction number one, 2017 will almost certainly see a number of martech vendors disappear from the overcrowded map.
That’s because, quite frankly, the entire martech map is starting to look a bit ridiculous. The sheer number of players in this space is way too high to be productive or sustainable in the long run.
Of course, the main reason for the crowded nature of the marketplace is that by now almost everyone recognizes the immense potential just waiting to be unlocked. Advances in artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, “big data”, and other martech-related technologies makes for an undeniably exciting future, which investors and entrepreneurs alike are vying to cash in on.
So expect this year to see plenty of acquisitions, as the large tech companies stack up on innovative start-ups in the martech/adtech/predictive analytics spaces.
Picture by Pavlofox from Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain