Almost 2,000 technology demos and requests for proposals. Why not? Your team can handle it.

The landscape for marketing technology has exploded in the past year, nearly doubling to more than 1,800 software vendors.

Scott Brinker is the guy who's chronicled this tech climb. He's the author of the Chief Marketing Technology Blog, organizer of the Marketing Technology Conference and the co-founder and chief technology officer for Boston-based ion interactive. 

But he may as well be the Godfather of Marketing Technology, the man who has boldly gone where no other marketing tech industry person has gone -- diving into this crowded landscape and discovering a space as crowded as sardines.

"It's somewhere between wonderfully inspiring and downright frightening," Brinker told CMSWire.

Growing, Growing Growing


Brinker has discovered 1,876 marketing technology vendors in 43 categories. Last year, he estimated there were 947 companies.

And let's be clear -- Brinker told us some of the technologies in the list this year were around last year but simply not discovered. Hey, he's a one-man show who doesn't even want to begin to estimate the number of hours he's committed to this project (we asked).

However, the technology numbers are still significant. Brinker's breakdown starting in 2011 looks likes this:

  • 2011 -- 100
  • 2012 -- 350
  • 2013 -- N/A
  • 2014 -- 947 ("I got the bug again," Brinker said)
  • 2015 -- 1,876

"What sort of struck me more than anything seeing this new version come together was that I expected the landscape to grow. I did not expect it to double," Brinker told CMSWire. "I didn't sandbag this. In almost all categories I ran out of space before I ran out of vendors. As far as I can tell this market is unprecedented in the history of business software."

Dual Narrative

Brinker told us marketing technology has a dual narrative today:

  • Consolidation, as major players like Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce acquire large portfolios
  • Diversification, as the rate of new, innovative start-ups outpaces the rate of acquisition or failure

Brinker sees the big players "co-opting many smaller companies as ISVs," making it easier for integration. A cluster of "marketing middleware" technologies have emerged "to make best-of-breed marketing stacks more manageable."

"The middleware layer has grown significantly," Brinker told CMSWire. "At the end of day the problem people have with all this technology is how do we pull this all together and make it work in some kind of orchestrated context. ... The middleware layer is evolving into a competitive architecture for people with marketing stacks. They still might be buying a marketing automation system from an Oracle or a web content management system from Adobe, but now they may be able to use a customer data platform to control the orchestration of data in a layer that is sort of below that marketing cloud."

Rise of Marketing Technologist

Brinker has championed the concept of the marketing technologist for a while now. He has a whole conference around it -- first one: August 2014, Boston; next one: April 2015, San Francisco. His research into his marketing landscape supergraphic released today uncovered a space where marketers are becoming more technological because, well, they have to.

It's a new class, he said, of hybrid marketing/IT professionals who are architecting and operating increasingly sophisticated tech-powered capabilities within the marketing department.

"Marketers' technology sophistication has grown quite a bit," Brinker told CMSWire. "Marketing is working more closely with IT and is getting the benefits."

As for advice for marketers diving into this landscape looking for technology to solve a business need, Brinker suggested focusing on a small number of core foundational systems and making sure you've got an "open architecture" even if you go with a platform.

So there you have it -- now onto demo No. 1 of 1,876.


Title image by Jacob Davies (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.