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By Arik Abel, Sr. Manager, Product Marketing, Lenovo Software


Another great MarTech® Conference –  this time on the West Coast –  has come to a close.

It was exciting to meet so many of you at MarTech® West for the first time and learn how you’re handling the convergence of marketing, technology, and management.

MarTech West was three intense days of learning, networking, and idea exchanges fronted by Scott Brinker, conference chair and editor of chiefmartec.com.

In case you missed the event or just want to re-experience it all, here are five takeaways from me and the whole Airstack team!

1.  Data silos are a huge issue, still

As marketers add more technology to their toolkits, data silos and fragmentation have become a huge issue. In a pre-event blog, Brinker stressed that one of the biggest barriers to growth in this age of digital marketing is “siloed specialization.”

Teams are adding apps at an incredible rate. The average enterprise uses a dizzying 91 marketing cloud services, each designed to address a singular, tactical need – and each generating vast amounts of data as they do it. Yet, these tools often don’t talk to each other, making it hard to track down data and derive accurate insights.  

As Brinker states: “The truth is that the biggest challenge in modern marketing isn’t mastering search engine optimization, analytics, personalization, or any one tactic. The hard challenge is connecting all those pieces together into a cohesive whole. It’s seeing the forest for the trees.”

A lot of technology vendors are trying to solve this issue, but their approaches quickly go in and out of fashion. One moment marketers are being told to invest in a data management platform to fix their data silo challenges, the next it’s a customer data platform.

So do I need a DMP or a CDP? How is a guy to decide?

At MarTech West, we heard repeatedly that despite the continuous change of nomenclature, categories, concepts, and vendors – the data silo problem hasn’t gone away.

Comic from marketoonist.com. Person 1: Now that we've invested in this marketing tech stack, what's the ROI? Person 2: That's a good question for a new analytics tool we should buy. Person 3: Yes, and a new layer for data visualization.

As you can imagine, there was lots of excitement when we introduced Airstack to attendees.

Airstack gives marketers the ability to break down martech silos and share data and expertise seamlessly across teams by bringing all the apps they use to one place. “There’s nothing like it in the marketplace,” was something we heard repeatedly from attendees.

2. Content Marketers Were Out in Force

Content marketers were by far the largest group of sponsoring companies represented at MarTech West.

We put together a categorized list of all the vendors in our MarTech West Tech Stack Diagram . As you can see, content strategy and content marketing dominated, followed by martech management, engagement, analytics, and so on (view the full stack here).

Screenshot of MarTech West 2019 Tech Stack

3.  Assembling the right martech stack is a challenge – no matter the business size

MarTech West drew companies from startups and small businesses to enterprises like Blue Cross Blue Shield, and even martech consulting companies – all looking to technology to enable growth and improve their customer experience offerings.

But, no matter the size of the organization or marketing staff, we heard repeatedly that marketers are plagued by the same challenges and questions.

The opportunities presented by martech tools is exhilarating, but at the same time, folks are intimidated. The moment you think you’ve figured martech out, it changes. New innovations, products, and approaches are keeping everyone on their toes. Common themes emerged as we talked to attendees:

“How do I get started assembling a martech stack?”

“How do I figure out if I have the right apps in my stack?”

“What are others in my area doing with technology?”

“How can we work together as a community to solve these problems so that we don’t create more fragmentation?”

“Once I’ve organized my stack, how do I measure it so I know what applications people are using? How can I gauge the cost-benefit analysis?”

Indeed, MarTech West proved that there is a sense of community around universal challenges and an opportunity for us to talk about how Airstack addresses them. Which leads to our next takeaway:

4.  Marketers are eager to learn from their peers

The opportunity to learn from others and find solutions to mutual pain points was a key premise of MarTech West which was billed as a “…chance to meet with your kind, learn from them, train with them.” Nowhere was this more evident than in the 2019 Stackies Awards.

Airstack was thrilled to sponsor this year’s awards, which honor some amazing examples of real-world marketing stacks. To compete, marketers were asked to submit a single slide that illustrates their stack, how the tools are used, and how they conceptualize them together.

The Stackies are a great opportunity to learn from the community and “understand the different strategies that marketing teams apply in organizing their stacks,” explains Brinker. They also showcase an amazing confluence of creativity and technology.

The Stackie Awards winner: Esri

Congratulations go to this year’s winners: Airstream, Esri, Juniper Networks, Paychex and Sargento Foods. Brinker’s blog showcases each of the winners and their achievements. For example, below is Sargento’s stack, which imaginatively uses their culinary brand metaphor to organize their stack into four stages: plan, create, activate and measure.

Marketing tech stack infographic

5.  We got to hang out with some cool folks

We love Tom Fishburne, aka the Marketoonist, for the humor and snark he brings to all things martech, like this gem:

Comic by marketoonist.com. Dog pointing at chart speaking to three other dogs in a conference room: We need to stay focused on our marketing priorities and not get distracted by every shiny new -- Look, squirrel!

I was lucky enough to grab a selfie with Tom. It made my day!

Screenshot of tweet. Hanging with @marketoonist was a great ending to a great time at the #MarTechConf. Thanks Tom for the inspiration as always and thanks @chiefmartec for capturing the moment and throwing a great event.

If you missed MarTech West, you can catch up with the keynote here and register for the upcoming MarTech East in September 2019.

And don’t hesitate to learn more about Airstack and how it helps you unify your marketing technology and easily organize and share digital tools across your business.

Check out some of our photos from the event.

Airstack booth at conference

Airstack booth at conference

MarTech sponsor list