When the first Martech supergraphic was released back in 2011, ChiefMarTech counted 150 platforms. But just seven years later in 2018, the market has grown to accommodate over 6,800 marketing technology solutions. Now that’s what you call growth.

Enterprise companies in particular have made the most of this boom. In fact, some might say they’re over-utilizing these tools. According to Scott Brinker, Founder of ChiefMartec, the average enterprise has a Martech stack consisting of a staggering 91 tools.

Is there a justification for that figure, or do enterprises need to reevaluate their approach to hoarding MarTech? As ever, we’ve turned to leading industry experts and practitioners to help us find the answer.

Why Are Enterprises Using So Many Tools and/or Services?

Mark Gonzales, Senior Director of Customer Technology at Minneapolis, MN.-based Elicit, pointed out one reason why enterprises are using so many different marketing tools is their attempt to leverage the “best-of-breed” technologies for each dimension of any given marketing campaign. “The email team will buy the best email tool, the social team [will buy] the best social tools, the digital marketing team [will buy] the best digital placement tools [and so on]. There’s no single platform that does it all on the market without significant compromises,” Gonzales stated.

Andrea Cordts, Account Director at Chicago, IL.-based Fetch IMC, added to this, martech tools that do offer an all-in-one solution are far and few, and the ones that do can put a strain on company budgets. “There are very few martech tools that perform all of the functions marketing professionals need to do their job [like] research, strategy, execution, [and] reporting. The ones that do offer all of those functions can be extremely expensive [and chew up] our already limited budgets. As a work-around, marketing professionals cobble together a system of tools that we know work well and perform the functions [that we want],” she explained.

The urge to automate is another factor, according to Mike Melvin, Marketing Manager at San Diego-based BAM Communication. He highlighted that many brands draft in martech tools at every opportunity in order to cut back on the amount of time spent doing things manually. “[Brands want to automate thing like] email marketing, social media research, scheduling [social media posts], or reputation monitoring. All of these things are important for a company looking to grow their community and satisfy their customers. In many cases, it’s cheaper to employ [automated] tools rather than hire staff,” Melvin said.

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How Much is Too Much?

Here’s the real question; is a bulging martech stack a problem, or is it simply part-and-parcel of engaging in contemporary digital marketing? We posed this question to Jeff Raymond, Executive Director at Austin, TX.-based Launch Marketing. According to him, businesses should be less concerned about the size of their stack and more concerned about, what it is that their marketing stack is helping them to achieve, as well as their stack’s respective strengths and weaknesses.”

Gonzales supported this position, claiming that a large martech stack was fine for enterprises, “unless they don’t pay attention to how to [retrieve] customer data [from] the tools [and] platforms. To get a 360-degree view of their customers, brands need to blend and merge the data from all of [the martech tools that they use].”

So, it’s not really the size of your martech stack that creates the issue, it’s your company’s ability to process the data flooding in. Gonzales further explained that if the data from best-of-breed technologies don’t sit well with the analytic platforms in your stack, you will end with “siloed pools of customer data that limit usefulness.”

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How Can Organizations Reduce Their Martech Stack?

If you still feel that 91 martech tools feels more like bloat that anything else, you may be wondering how to trim the fat efficiently, and without disrupting your customer experience. Michelle Huff, CMO of San Francisco, Calif.-based User Testing, advised companies to, look at adopting an all-in-one strategy instead of a best-of-breed approach. Sure, that’s a controversial call to action, but Huff insisted that a suite approach can, “reduce the number of applications that they have integrated together and clean up some of the tech debt.” “Companies should build out a marketing technology roadmap that addresses both their current and near future needs and better anticipate how their systems will integrate across their front and back-office tech stacks,” Huff continued.

However, Raymond suggested that rather than looking to reduce their martech stack, organizations must determine what their current martech stack needs to deliver, and go from there. “Organizations should question whether “reducing” their martech stack is their real goal. The answer lies in determining what exactly the company needs its martech stack to deliver and then assessing whether their current stack effectively supports those objectives. It may be that one single solution or platform provides what they need. Or, it may be more effective to apply integration practices to seamlessly bring together the functionality of multiple focused best-in-class tools,” Raymond explained.

Similarly, Melvin advised brands to instruct their marketing and business development teams to comb through each tool and make a case-by-case call. “If there is value for keeping a tool in your stack, your team will be able to defend it with use cases, reports and data. If they can’t, [then] it’s clear you need to drop [that] tool from your arsenal,” Melvin said.

Finally, Elizabeth Christensen, COO at NY.-based Tibrio, dished out some advice that’s more akin to prevention than it is to cure. Christensen explained that the key to avoiding martech bloat is to select martech efficiently in the first place — a strategy that brands can adopt whether they’re downsizing their martech stack or not.

She urged brands to, “interview business stakeholders, write a requirements document, perform research, keep track of information in a consideration matrix, and test everything,” when making a decision about a new martech product. “I like to narrow down my choice and hopefully get trial access to the contenders for evaluation. Depending on the tool, the requirements could vary from usability to support to integration capabilities. Once I decide the best solution, I go back to the business stakeholders and present my case,” Christensen said.

What’s your take on enterprises using as many as 91 martech tools? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.