Unless you have highly niche or specific needs, it’s time to review your tech stack and plan for a potential platform shift.
The martech world is shrinking as fast as it’s growing. The global big data analytics market was valued at $8.5 billion in 2017, but the number of vendors playing in the space is rapidly dwindling.
Why? Because with growth comes consolidation. The big players are acquiring smaller companies at breakneck speed, ostensibly to expand their offerings and deliver additional value. Take Cision, which has snapped up Vocus, Visible Technologies, Viralheat and most recently TrendKite. There’s also Salesforce, which recently bought Tableau for $15.7 billion and Datorama for an estimated $800 million, and adtech company Terminus, which bought up BrightFunnel for its multichannel analytics and attribution capabilities.
What’s behind all the acquisitions?
Marketers now have increased access to cloud-based options along with improved data control, both of which are driving the push towards big data solutions. Social marketing, content marketing and PR are now all heavily data-driven, requiring robust solutions that leverage both analytics and marketing intelligence. But for too long many available solutions have catered either to a company’s IT team or its marketing team, but not sufficiently to both. Business and marketing users want access to more than data discovery and visualizations. They need more sophisticated data analytics tools that deliver both flexibility and usability.
The existing analytics service providers, of course, need to bridge that gap. But given the rapid-fire increase in demand for these services, building new solutions from scratch is too slow a process. Buying up smaller analytics companies is, therefore, the choice move both for larger analytics companies as well as for more generalist software companies wanting to add analytics capabilities to their mix. Acquisition rather than organic expansion can also be a safer play for companies trying to scale to the enterprise level.
Another factor is the sheer number of solutions providers on the market. Even a multi-billion dollar market can only sustain so many vendors before some degree of consolidation becomes inevitable. In a saturated market, sometimes the best way to gain new customers is to make a strategic purchase.
What happens to the acquired companies’ products?
The consolidation we’re seeing isn’t so much about shutting down competition as it is about shoring up capabilities to provide a one-stop shop for marketing analytics. In most cases, the acquired companies are staying in business. But what that looks like exactly depends on the integration in question.
One possible outcome is that the acquired companies will remain autonomous and continue to do business as usual. An example of such an approach would be Google and traffic information app Waze, which was able to keep its brand and independence after the buy-out.
Another outcome is that the parent company will fold the acquired company’s offer into its solutions. Marketo’s purchase of performance management software Bizible is one example. The acquisition will help Marketo fold more analytics data into its CRM and sales/marketing tools.
A third outcome, of course, is that the acquired company gets shut down. Sometimes this is because the acquiring company is simply buying the smaller company for its staff rather than its product, while other times it’s because a company wants to shutter competition from a similar product.
Will we still get access to the same functionality?
Just how much impact the shift towards consolidation will have on marketers’ day-to-day efforts depends on the new parent company’s vision for their newly acquired portfolio. In some instances, we can expect to gain functionality and in others perhaps lose some.
Overall, companies will likely end up running fewer instances of various solutions, reducing costs and complexity while improving scalability. They’ll also be able to achieve greater visibility across their entire marketing funnel, allowing them to channel resources accordingly. Greater coordination, personalization and communication are all possible outcomes of consolidation.
Customers with more “off-the-shelf” type marketing analytics needs will likely be well served, as a single provider will be able to meet most of their needs. To the standard business user, there won’t be much functional change beyond user experience, licensing fees, implementation or the overall depth of features.
On the other hand, those that require more complex or customizable functionality may find they’re missing some of the services they’re used to. After all, the more centralization we see, the less choice will be available to customers. This may prove an issue for those with highly specific or strategic objectives, who may eventually find themselves building out their own tools. We can also expect to see more cross-selling and up-selling where a larger company is involved, an approach that ties customers into a particular ecosystem.
Another potential issue that may arise where companies are allowed to remain independent is that there’s no way to gauge the whims of the parent company. A shift in company direction may result in a particular technology or solution no longer being supported, despite all promises to the contrary. The parent company’s vision, as well as its own in-house knowledge, can be a large factor here.
Preparing for consolidation
The martech market, particularly the analytics side of the market, is going to continue to consolidate. We can expect more of it in the coming years, with the martech landscape eventually being filtered down to a handful of major platforms that are perhaps augmented by plug-ins and add-ons from smaller vendors.
For marketers, this means that unless you have highly niche or specific needs, it’s probably time to consolidate your personal technology stack as much as possible. Now’s the time to start reviewing what the big players are offering to ascertain whether your needs are being met – or to start planning for a potential platform shift.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.