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How to best manage your martech stack: A Q&A with Scott Brinker

SearchCRM talks with ChiefMarTec co-founder Scott Brinker about the growing tech landscape, tips for controlling a martech stack and his new role at HubSpot.

BOSTON -- Over the past several years, the marketing technology landscape has exploded. For martech stack decision-makers,...

few articles or infographs illustrate this boom in the software and application landscape like the ChiefMarTec infograph.

When Scott Brinker first put together the martech stack infograph, you could easily read the vendor names, but as the space has grown from several hundred vendor applications to more than 5,000, the text of the graphic has turned into a Where's Waldo-esque collage.

With such a focus on the martech space and its growing landscape, HubSpot sought Brinker's services, hiring him last month as the vice president of platform ecosystem to, as Brinker put it, help HubSpot navigate the martech market and help direct the future path of the company.

Brinker, at the latest MarTech conference held at the Hynes Convention Center, spoke with SearchCRM about his new role at HubSpot, his perspective on the technology landscape and how he addresses his martech stack.

For your new role at HubSpot, what exactly does a vice president of platform ecosystem do?

Scott Brinker: I hope to find out -- but at the very broad level, HubSpot started as a single app company and expanded into a suite of applications that they offer. The next logical step is can we open this up as a platform to let other applications plug in and build on top of the foundation -- Salesforce wrote the book on this.

My passion has been for the martech ecosystem and I've had a number of conversations with HubSpot and felt it would be a great way for us to work together -- me helping them in their vision of building their platform.

Scott Brinker of HubSpot, on managing a martech stack
Scott Brinker, co-founder of ChiefMarTec and vice president for platform ecosystem at HubSpot, kicks off the two-day MarTech conference in Boston.

How do you decide what to add or subtract when looking at a martech stack?

Brinker: One of the things this space has taught me is there are so many different lenses people use to look at their martech stack. There's 'How do I map this technology to my customer journey? How do I orchestrate these pieces together? How do I map this technology to my organization?' There's not just one way to look at and evaluate a company's marketing stack.

It's more about these organizations giving people the freedom to experiment and learn hands-on.
Scott Brinkerco-founder, ChiefMarTec

One thing you always need to ask is 'What's the actual value of this to our customers?' Take something like AI. In the past year or two there's been an explosion of hype around AI, and all these marketers are reading articles and start thinking they need to figure out AI because somebody else is doing it. And when that happens, you start bringing this technology into your martech stack before you've necessarily identified the problem.

Can you have too many tools in your martech stack?

Brinker: You know you have too many when you start having different tools being used for a common purpose and three different departments using three different tools. I see that and I also see people buy a tool and it sits on the shelf and grows cobwebs.

Those are the areas where you can clean up, but the other side of this is the marketing space is changing so rapidly, you need to have some kind of organizational mechanism to experiment with technology -- not for the sake of a shiny object, but to experiment with, say, the way you're handling lead scoring.

How can companies be sure they are adding the right tools to their martech stack?

Brinker: Organizational capital only comes from this process of development and learning and that requires having the people in place to do that. Training is part of it, but when you get into these technologies, some are so new that the playbook hasn't even been written yet. It's more about these organizations giving people the freedom to experiment and learn hands-on.

That's scary for a lot of organizations -- marketing is typically a top-down department. But something like directed experimentation -- for instance, with lead scoring, you tell your organization 'We want to experiment with how we get better lead scoring with this software, who wants to dig into it?'

Is there a point at which consolidation will start to take over or will the martech space continue to grow?

Brinker: The honest answer is I don't know, but there are these opposing forces. On one hand, consolidation is happening and you have many major companies going on acquisition sprees. So you do see consolidation, but on the other side, you see these startups identifying new opportunities. As much consolidation as there's been, when things exit out on one end, the new technologies are still coming in.

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