Is it that marketers are too tech savvy for their own good? Or that marketing technology (MarTech) is too fast-paced and complicated for anyone to keep up?

Whatever the reasons, on the surface it appears that marketers are not satisfied with their gadgetry and their "stack."

That's the consensus that B2B PR agency Walker Sands found in its "State of Marketing Technology 2016" report, in which more than half of the 300 respondents stated that they believe their employers fail to spend enough on MarTech.

Another four out of 10 respondents (42 percent) declared that what technology they currently do have is outdated and inadequate for what they have to accomplish. Only one in five said that their MarTech is adequate.

What's Behind This Tech Gap?

Stinginess (or in p.c. terms, "budget restraint") was cause No. 1, according to the respondents, with 69 percent citing it. The challenge of implementation and integration (35 percent) and internal resistance to change (33 percent) were neck and neck for second and third top reasons.

Dave Parro, partner and director of the marketing technology practice at Walker Sands, pointed to another reason: 44 percent of respondents called themselves innovators and early adopters in their personal lives.

"The contrast between personal and professional tech adoption is especially stark," he said. "Because marketers tend to be a tech-savvy group, they’re clearly frustrated by the slow rate of marketing technology at their companies."

In response, the devil's advocate might ask: Are these tech-savvy marketers hoping to rely too much on software and machines to solve their challenges?

"Yes, I think there's some truth in that statement, because marketers feel like technology is going to solve all their problems," answered Malcolm Friedberg, CMO of CleverTap, a mobile engagement platform.

'Easy Bake Oven for Leads'

He tells the story of the early days of marketing automation expansion, when marketers "thought you just put leads into the system and them came out sales ready (like the Easy Bake Oven for leads!)."

"Marketers tend to be light on business process and strategy skills, so it makes sense that they would rely on technology to solve their problems," he continued. "The reality is that most sophisticated technology needs smart, strategic marketers to make it work properly."


"Put another way, the technology is plenty powerful and there's an abundance of it, but most marketers don't leverage even a portion, let alone the full power, of what's available," he said.

Double ouch.

Beyond strategy, marketers may also be missing the data and content pieces to get the full value of their existing technologies, said Mike Burton, co-founder of data aggregator Bombora.

"Technology is just table stakes. Then they need lots of really good data, content and strategy to drive engagement," he added.

And let’s not forget about talent. We said it before, but people who know what they’re doing make it all work. Burton sees a "massive talent gap" out there.

Pressure to Succeed

Let's not be too harsh to the marketing community however. With the rise of digital and mobile, they are under tremendous pressure to integrate an ever-increasing number of parts.

Sheryl Schultz, president and COO of CabinetM, a sort-of dating platform for marketers and technology, estimates that there are 4,000 martech tools out there today. Her experience is that most marketers adopt a core package of CRM, email and automation tools (maybe throw in a social media tool too), then "surround those" with as many as 100 other "special purpose tools."

That’s a lot of tools to carry in your belt, and there always seems to be more to add.

"The moment you think you've got it covered, a new channel emerges that's potentially more disruptive than the last. And while this presents great opportunity, for many marketers it can also feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole," said Steve Griffiths, SVP of marketing, strategy and analytics at DialogTech, a provider of call attribution and conversion platforms.

Perhaps, then, based on the Walker Sands report findings, it is safest to surmise that the 44 percent of marketers who consider themselves early tech adopters are the ones whose favorite game is whack-a-mole.

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Title image by Christoffer Engström