Not Understanding the Martech Landscape Can Hurt Your Career

If you’re reading this, chances are you know that released its annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic on Monday. As always, Scott Brinker outdid himself, but I’ll limit my compliments since by now he’s likely suffocating beneath rightfully deserved praise. Suffice it to say, the research that went into the supergraphic was undoubtedly a formidable undertaking.

And you – the marketing professional – should take full advantage of his NEARLY selfless labor. (He did, after all, include his company, ion interactive in not one, but two categories! Such an opportunist.) Despite the volume of discussions that pervades the industry about the ways marketing tech proliferation is giving rise to the new, specialized “marketing technologist” role, we must not use this as an excuse to shun our own technology education and simply leave it to the specialists.

These days, all marketers must become part marketing technologist, regardless of your title or job description. Failing to evolve with marketing’s tech revolution will hinder your own career advancement. And this responsibility to progress your personal edification goes beyond tech specific to your job duties – you must familiarize yourself with systems and software used by practitioners throughout marketing in general. Below are just a few reasons why understanding the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic is vital to your career:

The Marketing Technologist relies on your input

The ascending role of Marketing Technologist, Chief Marketing Technology Officer, IT Marketing Architect, or any other of the numerous names is a senior position, meaning it depends on the feedback from divisional specialists – marketing ops, demand gen, customer experience, media, etc. (See the interview with Bala Kudaravalli, who specifically states how he checks in with teams on a daily basis).

As one of these sources of feedback, you obviously need to understand the tech you personally use, but the more you can place your insight in the context of the entire martech stack (think of the supergraphic), the more valuable your information will be to the CMTO or other marketing execs. And we all know, helping your boss look good is good for your career.

Alignment within marketing is becoming more critical and difficult every day

For decades, we’ve understood the importance of marketing-sales alignment. In the last few years, however, marketing’s importance has grown substantially, resulting in increased responsibility, bigger budgets, and a division of labor into intra-marketing teams that have in some cases become just as distinct as sales is from accounting.

Each of these individual marketing teams has its own set of systems and apps (often overlapping with the capabilities of adjacent teams’ tech). A seamless flow of data between marketing teams provides myriad benefits, hence why tech integration is so important. But unless you understand all the technology used by adjacent teams and the values they create, you’ll never achieve the alignment necessary to benefit both your team and the org overall. This will be reflected in your performance. Moreover, if you’re able to suggest initiatives that fix data chokepoints, increase procedural efficiency or boost marketing performance in general, you’ll definitely set yourself apart.

Areas of growth in specific martech categories will affect marketing as a whole

This can play out in numerous ways. Think of how social (typically a digital marketing team responsibility) has affected marketing automation (a demand gen responsibility). Or how marketing ops’ adoption of predictive analytics can affect content creation.

In general terms, new technological developments at one end of the marketing spectrum (front-office customer experience to back-office ops) almost always have a ripple effect that carries all the way to the other end. This effect may be delayed, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to make adjustments to boost your personal, team and organizational performance.

Broad knowledge of technology will become expected

You may work in demand gen and have your marketing automation platform down cold. But when you apply for another position, how do you expect you’ll match up against another candidate who has experience with content marketing and media buying software, can speak the language of numerous marketing teams, and will contribute innovative ideas on ways to leverage or integrate systems throughout the organization?

There’s a balancing act between becoming “Jack of all, master of none” and the person who specializes beyond any transferable abilities.  But just as Paul Sebastian explained in his recent article (“5 Technology Skills Every Marketer Needs Today”), marketers of every role will increasingly be expected to understand multiple technologies.

An in-depth understanding of the martech landscape isn’t easily achieved, but it’s worth the effort. Fifteen minutes of research every day is a good start. Pick a section of the supergraphic, peruse a few of the included vendor websites and read a white paper or two. If you do this every day or even just a few times a week, your knowledge, value and confidence as a marketer will compound like interest – and so will your career opportunities.



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