Industry veteran Jep Castelstein on the future of martech.
One thing I am always interested in is where martech is headed. Recently I had a chance to speak with Jep Castelstein, a leading independent martech technical architect who has worked on some of the world’s most complex martech implementations. Jep has a special focus on Marketo customization and integration, having worked at Marketo for a number of years.
His views on the future of martech startled me. They were discerning, uncomfortable…and right on. That’s why I wanted to share them. I have to preface this by saying that Jep is referring in these comments to mid-large enterprises – many clients he works with might be considered industry leaders.
CRM will cease to be the center of the universe
I was shocked to hear this, but upon examining trends and my recent experience, I found it made complete sense. “Many GTM teams today see the CRM (such as Salesforce.com) as the source of truth,” Jep said. “But smart marketers know that it’s all about customer data, and how they are using products or services. That information is typically stored in a data warehouse.”
The vast majority of companies look to the CRM as their system of record — here you have customers’ account information and revenue data. Various departments like sales, marketing, and finance all refer to the CRM as the source of truth. The current strategy is to integrate a marketing automation platform, such as Marketo or Pardot, into the CRM in order to build targeting and trigger off important events.
The problem? Most of the high-value usage and intent data doesn’t live in the CRM. This data is gold — you can get much deeper insights from product and usage data than you can from revenue data.
It’s also easier to mix and match data from different sources in a data warehouse. Marketers can more easily build real-time, dynamic segments, and action data in a more agile way.
The future marketing automation and email platforms will not have databases
I found the next prediction to be a big mind shift for me, and probably a hard one to grasp for most marketers today.
“Well if you think about it, it’s redundant to have the same data in your data warehouse, your MAP and CRM,” Jep explained. “And these different systems are often missing chunks of data. Remember that even leading MAPs today lack functionality when it comes to data analysis and management. My prediction — the future MAPs will be built to hook directly into the data warehouse.”
Jep is referring to the daily syncing and updating data in multiple places. This is huge lift, especially for companies generating thousands or even millions of interactions a day. Imagine having to wait till lunchtime to have accurate marketing data, and then being constantly disrupted by discrepancies between the systems.
Next, MAPs lack the data analysis and manipulation capabilities to build complex segments. “If the MAP is integrated directly to the data warehouse, marketers can build their targeting on real-time data, and the campaigns can be deployed faster,” Jep said. “Oh, and don’t forget about better security.”
As a long time advocate of data privacy, this one hit home for me. The “security” Jep refers to is the imperative for marketers to protect customer consent, from both businesses and malicious actors. For many, marketing grinds to a halt when introducing new platforms and data processes because of the risk of data exposure. Enterprise marketers would breathe much easier if MAPs did not store customer information, but leveraged the data warehouse as their primary database.
Time and money investment in data synchronization will triple
Data synchronization refers to the flow of data between multiple systems. Increasingly, marketing is involved in pulling together disparate data between platforms to get accurate views of the customer and to leverage the information in online and offline engagements.
“We’ve seen huge investments in companies like Workato and Tray.io,” Jep pointed out. “Huge. Marketers sorely need help getting data synchronized across platforms, and that will only continue as the amount of touch points and engagements grow.”
While Jep mentioned that we’ll see more investment pouring into data companies, he also pointed out that we’ll see new directives from leaders to hire data talent and shift time and resources to these important initiatives. Full disclosure, I have joined Syncari, a data automation and management platform, as an advisor because I am fully vested in the belief that data synchronization and management is an untapped opportunity.
Marketers today aren’t actually using data to do good marketing – but they will start.
This last one was a punch in the gut, but I knew it to be true when I heard it.
“Marketers today think they are data-driven, but I would argue that they are just scratching the surface,” Jep explained. “They are using data from basic events such as website visits, forms fills and email clicks. The real, high-value data points are intent data and product/service usage data.”
Ouch. But again, spot on.
Typical marketing automation deployments are set up to target customers who download content or click an email. But how much does that really tell us about their needs, timeline, and perception?
In reality, marketers are extrapolating a great deal when determining customer intent from those basic signals. The better signals? Intent data from other platforms and product usage data from proprietary systems. Some even rank these signals above surveys in gaining insight about their customers. Rather than asking for customer sentiment, you are observing their actions – what they are willing to invest their time and energy in.
I found my interview with Jep to be enlightening, albeit at times uncomfortably so. But it made me remember that marketing and its technology are meant to provide value, and to find shared value for both the customer and the marketer. This overarching theme is meant to weave these predictions together, and brings much weight to their validity.
Will this be the future of Martech in the next 3-5 years? What do you think?
This story first appeared on MarTech Today.