Holiday Brains Trust 1: 2015’s technology developments

With the New Year fast approaching, we convened a virtual panel of experts who live and breathe marketing technology to look back over 2015, and forward to next year.  See the panel details below. 

First up, we asked about the most exciting technological development in marketing tech in 2015. A significant number of our experts greed on the importance of predictive analytics and machine learning. 

“Predictive analytics and machine learning is becoming embedded into marketing tech,” said data platform CEO Tim Barker.  According to social media analytics platform CEO Lux Narayan, “I was excited to see many point solutions and marketing cloud vendors increase their development and deployment of sophisticated predictive and machine learning applications. To me, this signals that digital marketers across various channels are taking a more data-driven approach to decision making. That isn’t to say that predictive should replace real-time, in-the-moment insights or human creativity, but these technologies are helping marketers make educated decisions about customers and prospects with billions of pieces of data in ways that weren’t previously possible.”

Venture investor Stacey Bishop chimed in with the same theme: “Greater adoption of machine learning was an exciting technical development in marketing tech in 2015 and a trend I am continuing to track. With the mass amounts of data created from email, search and social, it has become too complicated and costly for a person to process. Machine learning offers a huge opportunity for marketers to be more strategic and effective. Machines aren’t going to replace humans–they’ll simply help process the data. This is significant for marketers who can use machine insights to determine what messages engage with customers most and what drives the most leads. Machine learning partnered with human insights will be most successful in creating a holistic customer journey.”

Customer loyalty guru Jerry Jao said, “Data science and machine learning have been hot topics for martech for the last few years, and for good reason, but this is the year we saw real advancement toward autonomous machine-driven marketing and automation. Google recently discussed how their AI-driven RankBrain is responsible for generating relevant web search results; in the same way, marketing tech is finding that deep machine learning can not only provide insights, but execute on those insights. It’s going to revolutionize marketing, and 2015 saw its arrival.”

CMO AdaPia d’Errico also mentioned Google, but focused on reporting: “Overall the most exciting development I saw was the trend towards more accurate and holistic reporting, such as Google Analytics attribution reports. While capturing data is important, interpreting that data is far more important. Weighting, scoring and attribution will allow marketers to measure, give context to and evaluate some of the most notoriously difficult activities to measure – brand awareness and impact.”

Mobile intelligence vendor Eric Holmen understandably sees the mobile revolution as ongoing. “In 2015, mobile search overtook desktop search, and because of that we’re seeing more focus on mobile-first search technologies that more efficiently and contextually surface information. In 2016, search technology will continue to evolve to give people the fastest route to the information they want. Google for instance, is introducing mobile search features like the ability to search app-only content and ‘stream’ content from apps without downloading them. The future of mobile search technology involves predicting how the searcher wants to engage with the content presented–whether they’d like to read a review, watch a video or call a business directly to get more information.” 

Jarred McGinnis is a consultant specializing in semantic technologies, and he had a surprise up his sleeve. “The surprise is that I’m not putting semantics as the most exciting technical development. To be honest, the exciting stuff happened years ago. We are now in the process of refining and maturing the technology. It is vital work but only exciting to the handful of techies that can appreciate it. For example, I’ve seen with one of my clients, Ontotext, continue to beef up their GraphDB product into the only scalable enterprise-strength RDF datastore outside the walls of Google.”

Mark Cooper, the UGC marketer, had a simple take on the question: “Unified multi-channel user IDs announced by Google and Facebook,” while publicist Nicole Rodrigues zeroed in on location data, saying: “I think the intelligent use of location data is really helping marketing and ad campaigns. The growth in this area has been fascinating and proves just how much targeting will be improved in the future. A great example of this is UberMedia’s recently launched Location Visit Optimization technology that drives physical location visits to customized audiences in real-time.”

Perhaps surprisingly, only customer engagement consultant Charlotte Baillie zeroed in on the Internet of Things, identifying the most exciting technological advance as wearable technology. “Take Fit Bit and Apple Watch for example,” she said. “These wearable devices have erupted into the world and are already becoming fashionable and as ‘ordinary’ as an iPhone. Perhaps it doesn’t sound so crazy to everyone, but not so long ago we didn’t have a camera on a mobile phone, let alone a device that connects a multitude of apps and devices that allow you to turn your heating while on a train.”

Tomorrow: exciting strategic developments. 

Our 11 wise women and men:                                                                                                                                 

Charlotte Baillie: Marketing and Alliances Manager at Enigen UK Ltd, customer experience, CRM and BI consultants.

Tim Barker:
CEO of Datasift, the human data platform.

Stacey Bishop:
Partner at Scale Venture Partners.
Mark Cooper: Co-founder and SVP Business Development at Offerpop, the UGC marketing platform.

Ada Pia D’Errico:
Founding executive and CMO at Patch of Land, the crowd-funded real estate lender.
Caitlin Grogan: Director of Client Services at Adage Technologies
Eric Holmen:  EVP of Sales at Invoca.

Jerry Jao:
Founder and CEO of Retention Science.

Jarred McGinnis:
Independent Consultant in Semantics, Director of Logomachy Consulting Ltd.
Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan: Co-founder and CEO of Unmetric Inc.

Nicole Rodrigues:
Founder and CEO of NRPR Group.

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