HomeBlog SiriusDecisions TechX 2017 Preview: A Roundtable on Tech Trends

SiriusDecisions TechX 2017 Preview: A Roundtable on Tech Trends

October 20, 2017 | By Jessica Lillian

  • What does the future of b-to-b sales and marketing technology hold? 
  • Get ready for this year’s SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange with our vendor roundtable
  • Meet these leading companies and others at the TechX Marketplace!

This year’s SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange will offer a packed agenda filled with insightful keynotes, track sessions and case studies (plus ample networking opportunities and a Halloween party!). In just a few days, you’ll learn all you need to know about the latest in b-to-b marketing and sales technology.

We asked our 2017 TechX sponsors to weigh in on the tech trends they hope to see in the future – and the one current trend they wish would disappear:

What are the top two tech trends you hope to see five years from now?

Bound: AI deployment of content. As a marketing department, we create emails, content, videos, blogs and other assets. I want tech that knows who an asset should go to, when they should be getting it, and which channel they should get it in. This allows my team to focus on creating the right content for the right channels.

Second, Web site and app personalization. In five years, I know we’ll have deeper online profiles for everyone. I want tech to personalize to me as an individual, not me as a member of a broader target audience. If I go to a Web site, I don’t want to see anything about sales solutions, or legal solutions – I want to see only marketing ops related content.

techx technology marketplace

SMARTe Inc.: Internet of Things (IoT) is one trend to look for by the year 2022.  Smart connected devices will open up new avenues of aggregating consumer data points – which is important for sales and marketing initiatives.

With the growth of data, its security and confidentiality have become paramount. A trend that should be looked at from a data security perspective is blockchain, which enables you to store data in a peer-to-peer network without an intermediary.

MRP: AI will enable better, faster decisions and process automation. Artificial intelligence capabilities will continue to evolve. Software platforms will integrate data sources, make predictions, and automate the real-time delivery of customized, relevant tactics to prospects and customers who have the highest propensity to buy.

As marketing becomes more data-driven and continues to move toward technology, new roles will be created to address this business transformation, including marketing data scientists, chief content officers and marketing technology officers.

Leadspace: By 2022, we hope to see b-to-b sales and marketing teams adopting AI as a core part of their technology stacks. While AI today is often seen as something exotic or a nice-to-have, its applications to demand generation are fairly straightforward and extremely effective. In today’s data economy, AI is a necessity, as the only technology that enables businesses to efficiently collate the data they need from the endless ocean of Big Data, and then effectively translate their marketing and sales databases into actionable intelligence to inform effective customer engagement.

We also hope that marketers will become much more savvy about using analytics technologies. Currently, too many marketing organizations are applying (often multiple, disparate) analytics platforms superficially and without adequate focus to generate reports on a wide range of performance metrics, which provide little demonstrable long-term value.

LookBook HQ: In b-to-b, in particular, big data isn’t all that useful today. There are only a few sources of big data and, unfortunately, the quality of the data isn’t always all that great. The real power of data will be realized when companies start building their own strategic data sets and then continuously analyze small data, generate insights from that data, and act on those insights at scale. That is what will allow marketers and salespeople to make impactful business decisions in real time that respond to customers with the agility and level of customization they have come to expect.

AI was, by far, the biggest buzzword in tech in 2017, but it’s still in its infancy in our industry. In 2022, we’ll all know a lot more about the applications of AI: how it can help marketers and salespeople achieve better outcomes for their businesses, and how it can help those professionals design better experiences for their customers.

Mintigo: We’d like to see AI-based systems that autonomously market, sell, and service products at scale, and nanomedicine to cure cancer and other diseases.

Allocadia: Instead of focusing on futuristic marketing trends that seem they will save the world, marketers should take care of their foundational technologies (like CRM, MPM and MAP) to set themselves up for success in the next five years (and beyond). If this happens today, in 2022 these systems of records and data sources will serve as the underpinning to future innovation. The CMO will become its own business unit with foundational technology at the core. This arrangement gives organizations the confidence to understand where marketing is spending, what returns they’re driving, and their impact on the business.

Highspot: Technology has been getting better and better at knowing what buyers are going to do before they do it. Over the next five years, continued improvements in predictive buyer machine learning will help companies leverage data about buyers’ current actions to predict their next step. With that knowledge, they can determine what content or type of interaction each buyer will respond to best and enable sellers to be more strategically proactive. What I’d also like to see by 2022 – if not well before – is more companies personalizing the buyer experience, including automation of the buyer journey, which translates to less friction and improved sales velocity.

6sense: We’re excited to see marketers go back to being marketers. With the proliferation of martech in the last decade, the modern marketer has essentially become a technologist – manually processing and moving data sets in an attempt to make the most data-driven decisions possible. But the progression and evolution of AI and machine learning is now opening the door for true automation to occur within marketing. Instead of spending 1/3 of their time on repetitive, operations-oriented tasks, marketers can go back to their real job – building compelling stories and engaging brands to accelerate the buyer’s journey.

In addition to automating rote, mindless tasks, advances in machine learning are also allowing marketers to engage more effectively at every stage of the journey by having the critical insight into their buyer’s timing, needs and behavior. Marketing teams can now not only optimize their efforts across the buyer’s journey, but ultimately enhance the buyer experience through thoughtful and personalized interactions. 

True Influence: We expect to see blockain replacing all current password protocols, and intent monitoring becoming a staple of mainstream marketing programs. 

What tech trend from 2017 do you hope disappears?

Bound: My gut reaction would be account-based marketing (ABM) because it’s not a tech trend at all. The concept of ABM has been around – we just haven’t looked at it in a tech way before. I’ll admit there’s been innovation to try to provide those tools, but ABM is not a tech and it’s not new – it’s a tactic. Furthermore, there is not enough innovation in the solutions for small to medium-sized businesses, which account for 80 percent of the businesses in the world. There is simply no reason for a dedicated ABM solution in organizations of that size. ABM is an approach to marketing that most organizations can adopt without purchasing new tech.

Smarte Inc.: One trend of 2017 which we wish would disappear is predictive analytics, as its success lies on the premise of good data to build appropriate analytics. With data quality issues (due to myriad reasons), this trend would cease to exist in the coming few years.

Allocadia: This year, in 2017, I’d like to see more CMOs focus on the foundational elements of their marketing technology stack and their marketing organization. According to Allocadia Marketing Performance Management Benchmarking Research, only 21 percent of companies can measure marketing’s contribution to revenue, as 82 percent are using Excel for critical business functions like marketing planning, investment management and measurement.

MRP: Demand generation, in the traditional sense, is dead. The way customers buy has changed. They research, they consume content, and they dictate demand. Buyers leave a trail of data that smart marketers will use to understand what their prospects are researching, what their specific needs are, and customize the way in which they communicate with them. In the age of the customer, marketers need to shift away from traditional activities like mass emailing, broadcast, print media and focus on customer centric, segment-specific, ABM campaigns.

Leadspace: One of the most inexplicable, persistent features of demand generation is the dismal state of data management. Despite all the technological innovation in the b-to-b space, marketing orgs are still doing most of their database building and data management manually, by trying to piece together individual data sets on each lead or account (such as by job title or  company size) from disparate data sources. That’s neither efficient nor effective – not to mention extremely frustrating for whichever poor soul is doing it! This is an enormous problem, given that data is the lifeblood of effective marketing (and sales) campaigns.

By the end of this year, we hope b-to-b data management embrace the concept of a “single source of truth.” Most marketers view the idea of a single source of truth as almost mythical, but all the data is already out there! All that’s left to b-to-b marketing and sales organizations is to implement measures to ensure that they’re getting all the right data they need and that all the data is being shared and updated in real time and collaboratively.

LookBook HQ: The one 2017 tech trend we wish would disappear is measuring the success of marketing campaigns by clicks and form-fills. Marketers are in crisis as they see false-positive clicks from bots and plummeting conversion rates on their landing pages. It’s time to evaluate the success of marketing by measuring how much time prospects and customers spend engaging with content throughout the customer journey. Soon, the foundation of marketing and sales alignment will be built on how educated and sales-ready prospects are by the time they interact with a sales rep – not by how many leads are generated each quarter.

Highspot: In the realm of “the future is now,” I believe ABM is no longer a trend – it’s reality. Buyers value the kind of engagement and tailored information sharing that ABM provides, so it’s now a must-have in b-to-b. Those who aren’t leveraging ABM best practices and technologies are going to fall off buyers’ radars and lose out to the sales teams that are laser-focused on using ABM to provide a superior buyer experience.

6sense: The misuse of buzzwords needs to end. Every industry faces this issue but within marketing, there seems to be a new term, fad or trend every day. As these words and phrases are overused, their true meaning becomes obscured and confusion ensues. Two key examples from 2017 were the uses of artificial intelligence and account-based marketing (ABM).

There’s no doubt that true AI will be one of the major drivers in technology for the coming years. But with that knowledge, many companies have begun to attach the acronym to their value prop – whether it’s true or not. The problem with that (as with any buzzword) is then attempting to differentiate the real innovation from the marketing ploys hoping for better sales or higher valuations. ABM has been practiced by marketers for decades but it has experienced a spike in attention over the past few years. In my experience, the best way to think about ABM is in terms of fishing. As opposed to casting a wide net out and hoping for something (anything) to fall in, ABM is more of a spearfishing approach, to go after – and eventually catch – the biggest whales. While most b-to-b marketers agree that ABM is essential, the confusion lies with how to implement the strategies in a way that will create true ROI. 

Meet these and other leading vendors at the upcoming SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 in Austin!

Jessica Lillian

Jessica F. Lillian is a senior editor at SiriusDecisions and has more than seven years of b-to-b editorial experience, including five years as the editor of national b-to-b magazines. Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessica_lillian

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