Forrester’s 2022 B2B Summit North America event recently took place in the unique and entertaining city of Austin, Texas. It was the first large gathering for many of us since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and presented a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new contacts that previously were only accessible via remote technology. In so many ways, it almost felt as if life was back to normal and that businesses can continue with their pre-pandemic plans that were suddenly disrupted by an unforeseen global event.
Overall, it was a tremendous event that I recommend to all. Here are some brief highlights and observations about my time at the Summit.
- Something For Everyone
This was my first Summit, and what I experienced was an energetic, high-quality production with numerous knowledge tracks suitable for sales, marketing, product, or those in the C-suite. The sessions all offered proven best practices and frameworks that provided guidance around some of the most challenging obstacles facing businesses today, such as managing change, driving growth, and keeping up with the latest technology innovations.
- Success Stories
Also interesting were the vendor-hosted case studies that highlighted successful client results while sharing a summary of actions taken, technology platforms used, and lessons learned. These sessions demonstrated that the right combination of processes, technology, and determination does equal success and reaching that point is not impossible.
- Personal Connections
But perhaps the most valuable part of the experience was meeting so many committed professionals who were doing all they can to provide excellent products and services to their clients, customers, and even shareholders. These connections extend beyond the event time frame and help to create a bond within the B2B marketing community that positively benefits all parties and often forms lifelong friendships and partnerships.
- The New Normal
As I previously mentioned, it did almost feel as if we were back to what most would consider to be normal. While listening to the many difficulties and obstacles that businesses were encountering, however, I came to realize that we now live under a new normal. The challenges that businesses were facing pre-pandemic still exist, but now there are also additional factors to consider, which often add more complexity to processes and solutions. Whereas the pandemic brought about a swift emphasis on digital, the focus now is more around convenience and meeting buyers when and where they prefer to conduct business.
A buyer today might browse your website and submit an inquiry form. But instead of waiting for a response, they will then contact your call center with the assumption that all previously submitted information is readily available. They then may have their direct report request a meeting with sales for a more detailed discussion. This relatively common scenario can stretch the limits of most martech stacks and results in even more dependencies and higher expectations around the solutions that marketing operations are being asked to deliver.
The martech stack of the future must support a consistent experience across multiple channels, near-real-time flow and sharing of information, and the ability to compile and present actionable insights based on observations of data and activities. These complexities may require reevaluating your current martech environment to ensure that your organization’s technology can meet and exceed the needs of the modern marketer. The Forrester report, Envision The Future Of The Marketing Technology Stack, outlines best practices around the evaluation process and how the technology stack can be optimized to deliver value and help meet organizational objectives.
The report also describes many of the risks and challenges associated with this type of transformation and how critical planning and the use of proven frameworks drive the success of any martech project. These steps help to ensure that any initiatives are properly aligned with company goals and customer needs. They also address internal concerns around staffing, budgets, and even overall strategies, as technology is often not the only part of the experience that should be thoroughly evaluated.
As buyers continue to make more demands from businesses and won’t accept inconsistent or less-than-ideal experiences across channels, there will be additional pressure on companies to deliver on those expectations. Buyers expect to seamlessly navigate through digital, phone, and in-person channels and often lack patience when waiting for data to be shared across those environments. Your martech stack must be able to meet these demands, as buyers have now been conditioned to expect these types of experiences and won’t settle for less. This is an exciting time to be a part of marketing operations, with technologies becoming more accessible to companies and solutions often easier to implement. Now is the time to take a closer look at what is in place and make sure that it will continue to meet your needs today and tomorrow.