Over the last couple of months we’ve been taking the temperature of a number of B2B CMOs to get a sense of current thinking on marketing technology platforms.

There are some definitive trends emerging.

  1. The emergence of the DIY ‘plug and play’ enthusiast

Conventional wisdom up until 12-18 months ago suggested that you had to make a big and final decision on a core marketing platform.

If your ever-obliging Salesforce reseller had done their job, then the final decision would have been bolting on the full Salesforce Marketing Cloud suite to your CRM licence. Keeping it all in the family with email (ExactTarget), marketing automation (Pardot) and social/ analytics (Radian6).

If not all with one vendor then you might have gone with a single ‘enterprise grade’ automation platform that had been given a thorough going over by your IT and procurement departments. Eighteen-month rollouts of one of the big beasts; Oracle Eloqua, IBM SilverPop or Marketo were not unheard of.

At the SME level the ‘core platform’ mind-set lent itself to HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Act-On et al.

Nothing wrong with investing in a core platform. Made perfect commercial and practical sense.

But then came the arrival of the DIY integrators such as Zapier and Cloudwork.

And now you can tap into the marketing app ecosystem and build your own.

Even if your bright young marketing exec has never heard of open APIs, they can start fiddling around connecting applications in around twenty minutes.

No meetings with IT. No need for whiteboards. Just set something up in beta that fits your workflows and see if it works. Shop around and connect in clever little apps that you never knew existed.

Some marketers are plugging and playing into their core platforms. Others are taking the braver step of building everything from scratch with a pick and mix strategy of connecting multiple low rent apps.

The drivers are not just cost. It’s become a resource challenge.

CRM, marketing automation, email, social and analytics ownership now quite rightly sit in the marketing department. But the market salaries for marketing technology Jedis have started to synch with London house prices – try recruiting a Marketo or Pardot specialist anytime soon.

We know some b2b marketers who have completely backtracked to a ‘minimum viable product’.  For example, sacrificing the ability to score leads by having a simple plug and play infrastructure of Unbounce landing pages and Mailchimp for automated nurture.

All in for £40 a month.

  1. Outsourcing everything

The DIY approach is not for everyone.

At the opposite end of the scale we’re seeing fully managed marketing technology. Outsourcing as an answer for B2B marketers who require the highest levels of intelligence and performance, but without the complexity.

Fully managed providers such as Force24 are growing quickly through taking the ‘pain out of marketing automation’. Giving marketers the headspace back to be more strategic.

  1. Predictive technologies go mainstream

The world of big data is starting to have meaningful and practical applications for b2b marketers.

From a base level of Buffer being able to predict the optimal time to post a Tweet, to platforms like Infer using data science to predict winners in your pipeline.

You can now confidently forecast how well your next blog post will perform, before you tap a word into your laptop – all thanks to the algorithmic capabilities of platforms such as Inbound Writer and Idio.

  1. Web development becomes a pleasure not a chore

Not great news for front-end web developers:  the plates are shifting in terms of web development platform capabilities. We are not quite at the point where you can shout at Siri and say “build me a beautiful website”, but we are getting closer.

The days of rigid CMS page templates where you trade aesthetics for rapid deployment appear to be coming to an end.

PageCloud hasn’t launched just yet, but all the signs are that this will transform the web publishing experience.

I suspect Douglas Adams would be a little happier if he were around at the moment:

“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
Douglas Adams (Author)

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