Why there are 10,000 martech products that “kinda all do the same thing” (but not really)

Why there are 10,000 martech products that “kinda all do the same thing” (but not really)

Martech Differentiation is at the Decision Layer

1 of the perennial criticisms of the martech landscape is that “most of these goods all do the exact factor.” Send an e mail. Render a internet site. Review some info. This criticism has grown louder in proportion to the growth of the landscape.

With an significantly exasperated tone, folks talk to, for case in point, “What’s the position of hundreds of CRMs or internet marketing automation resources? They’re all just storing the identical client fields and mail merging them into campaigns.”

I’ve normally experienced two opposite responses to that accusation.

Very first, I get a minimal defensive and say, “Hey, there are real innovations that occur in martech all the time. For occasion, you simply cannot appear at a merchandise like DALL-E 2, that magically generates illustrations or photos from any description you can convey in terms, and not value that, wow, this definitely is anything new below the solar.”

But not all innovations in martech are that remarkable. Coming up with the 1st couple of reverse ETL instruments to simply (re)hydrate facts into your application stack from your facts warehouses was super handy. But it was not worthy of a headline in The New York Times.

So, my fallback reaction is to admit, “Yeah, I guess you’re ideal. All e mail internet marketing resources kinda do the exact issue. But, hey, on the bright aspect, that form of commoditized competition amongst vendors need to be fantastic for you as a marketer. Rules of economics: it should really travel down your price tag.”

That generally mollified people critics, who mainly just required me to acquiesce to their intestine-level belief that the martech landscape was all seem and fury signifying nothing at all. But it didn’t sit effectively with me. It did not appear to be to make clear the sheer volume of variations of solutions in martech categories nor the massive volume of intellectual funds that saved becoming invested in them.

3-Tier Architectures: Data, Choices, Shipping and delivery

Let’s start by recognizing that most application follows a sample of three tiers or layers:

  • Data — at the base: data stored in a databases
  • Presentation — at the major: what appears on the display screen to customers
  • Small business Logic — in the center: decisions and stream in between the other two layers

David Raab, the inventor of the CDP category, mapped these to three levels of information, choices, and shipping. (I wrote an short article previous year riffing on that product termed Data, Decisioning, Delivery & Style to distinguish CDPs from cloud details warehouses, CDWs.)

But these 3 levels are not equivalent in scale or complexity.

The data layer would seem intuitive as the most basic layer. If you’re talking about client records, these kinds of as in CRM, there are commonly a finite variety of fields remaining saved. And the most vital fields are usually the exact same: identify, corporation, title, email, mobile phone quantity, deal with, and so forth.

Of system, all customer info isn’t fully that homogenized. Different companies collect different information all around purchases, purchaser behaviors, demographic, firmographics, technographics, and so on. There can be relational knowledge connecting those buyers with strategies, plan, and companions.

However, the quantity and dispersion of variation is modest. In other text, the information layer is quite vulnerable to commoditization.

Data Layer

What about the presentation or delivery layer? Most people today — in particular UX experts — would say there is a large amount a lot more scale and complexity here. It’s almost everything that every person sees or hears!

Intuitively, there’s massive variation in presentation. Some interfaces are stunning many others are unsightly. Some display you precisely what you want, in which you want it others are a incredibly hot mess that your eyes painfully bushwhack as a result of to find the a single issue you ended up actually on the lookout for.

So presentation is an space of differentiation, not commoditization, suitable?

Essentially, no.

Forgive me for acquiring a bit philosophical below, but rely on me, there’s a meaningful level to it.

The specialized layer of presentation is essentially reasonably constrained. There are only so several pixels, of so lots of colors, that you can put on a display. I’m not chatting about what individuals pixels depict — that’s something various, which we’ll get to in a minute. The raw pixels and their widespread styles veer towards commodities.

For that issue, if we increase outside of just “presentation” to address other facets of “delivery” — how that presentation in fact arrives in front of somebody — that’s really commoditized way too. The HTTPS protocol for world wide web webpages. The SMTP protocol for electronic mail. The SMPP protocol for text messages. These aren’t just commodities, they’re criteria.

Now right before designers commence sending me anatomically unflattering wireframes of the place I can stick this write-up, let me swiftly observe up that design and style and UX are exceptionally complex and critical sides of solutions and encounters that offer huge opportunity for differentiation. (Glance, I even put it in bold!)

UX Is More Decisions Than Delivery

But the magic and mastery of style and design and UX isn’t in the delivery. It’s in the selections about what to deliver — when, in which, how, to whom.

It’s the selections in UX that build differentiation.

Selections Are the Wellspring of Differentiation

Most of computer software is decisioning. All individuals guidelines operating as a result of processors determining if this, then that, hundreds of thousands of moments for every minute. The greater part of code in applications is “business logic”, a extensive ocean concerning the seabed of typical facts and the relatively skinny waves of presentation shipped on the floor.

The scale of the selections layer in software program is enormous. I’ve drawn it as 80%, relative to 10% for data and 10% for shipping and delivery, in my diagram. But it is in all probability closer to 98% vs. 1% and 1% in most programs.

Martech Differentiation is at the Decision Layer

It’s also elaborate. And I signify “complex” in the scientific feeling of several interacting sections — and not just isolated in just that 1 software alone. The choices one particular software package app makes are impacted by the conclusions other connected software applications make. In a stack of dozens of applications, hundreds of facts sources, and thousands or millions of customers, all feeding diverse inputs into a program’s selection-generating, you have an astronomical set of alternatives.

It is in this intricate natural environment the place unique application apps bring to bear diverse algorithms, frameworks, workflows, and styles to make decisions in various techniques.

There are 3 essential details about this selections layer:

  1. It’s the major part of what composes a application application.
  2. Collectively, there is a in close proximity to infinite variety of unique feasible selections.
  3. These selections can have important, material influence on company results.

The past stage really should be self-obvious. Businesses compete on the conclusions they make. If you never believe you can make diverse — far better — conclusions than your opponents, you should really probably take into account a vocation as a hermetic monk. (Ironically, a extremely differentiated decision to make.)

The selections layer in software is a substantial canvas for differentiation. And with its opportunity impact on outcomes, it’s a substantial canvas for meaningful differentiation.

Virtually no two computer software applications — at the very least applications of any major dimension — are the identical.

Martech: Commoditized and Differentiated

When you glance at the substantial-amount classes of the martech landscape, this kind of as a significant bucket for CRM, with hundreds of logos, it is fair to say that, absolutely sure, in some wide sense, all these applications are the same. They are all for buyer relationship management.

CRM Category on the Martech Landscape

You could also rightfully say that the data saved in people CRMs are frequently quite similar too. As are the shipping channels in which they serve up presentation to staff back-phase and buyers entrance-phase. By means of all those lenses, they are commoditized solutions.

But the gigantic mass of decisions in every single of these distinctive CRMs varies enormously.

Spend some time employing HubSpot (disclosure: where by I do the job), Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce, and you will take pleasure in just how various these CRMs are. Definitely for your working experience as a user. But from the myriad of points that add to differentiated working experience for you in those people CRMs springs a fount of various company selections and shopper interactions.

Is one certainly improved than the others? (I’ll resist my personal bias in answering that.) Supplied the broad adoption of all a few, you have to conclude that the respond to to that dilemma is various for various organizations.

(Yes, it’s a meta-choice to choose which choices bundled in a CRM platform you want, to assistance you make better conclusions for your buyers, to then help them make much better choices in their corporations, and so on. Turtles all the way down? Nope, it is decisions all the way down.)

And it is not just those people three CRMs. It is the hundreds of other individuals. Just about every just one formulated by various people bringing diverse concepts, philosophies, frameworks, and implementation selections to the enormous variety of decisions embedded in their item. All of which ripple into distinctions for how your business enterprise will essentially work in zillions of very small ways… but which combination into not-so-tiny distinctions.

Far more colloquially, this is known as opinionated application.

Now, not all people variations will be fantastic kinds. It’s a Darwinian current market for positive. Some CRM platforms will prosper other folks will go extinct. New CRM startups will sprout with new variations. Around time, there may be more or less. But there is place for unique CRMs with distinctive final decision levels to legitimately exist, as extensive as each one particular has a purchaser foundation — even if, or possibly primarily if, it is a specialized niche — who want the distinctive choices of that vendor.

This dynamic is current throughout all groups in martech.

Incremental Innovation Is Continue to Innovation

Now, are the variations in the conclusions layer in between two martech merchandise in the very same group breakthrough, leap-frogging improvements?

Admittedly, most of the time, no. They’re much more typically “incremental innovation” — finding better approaches to do a thing, not so significantly developing completely new somethings. But it would be a oversight to disdain, “Pffft, that’s only incremental innovation.”

Incremental innovation is even now innovation. It can meaningfully differentiate just one seller from a further and provide excellent rewards to their prospects.

This why martech has 10,000 items that all kinda do the similar issue — but not really.

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