Scott Brinker's 5 Martech Predictions for the Decade to Come

Jim Young on January 21st 2021

Last year, COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption significantly, bringing changes that were expected in 2030 ten years early. We saw a decade of growth nearly overnight. 

How can businesses navigate these new tailwinds moving forward? 

To understand what the future holds, we recently hosted a webinar with Scott Brinker, VP of Platform Ecosystem at Hubspot, and Katrina Wong, VP of Product Marketing & Demand Generation at Segment. 

They looked back at 2020 to discuss what the mass exodus to digital means for businesses going forward, and how this will impact the martech landscape in years to come.

Below are some of the highlights from their discussion, as well as five bold predictions for the decade to come. 

Prediction #1: Levels of e-commerce penetration expected in 2030 will jump forward 10 years

2020 was a year of rapid change. To illustrate the pace of digital transformation, consider how quickly e-commerce replaced physical channels in just a three-month period. 

Thankfully, both legacy and digitally native brands were able to absorb this explosion in digital demand faster than ever previously thought. In a recent survey run by Twilio, an incredible 97%of businesses reported COVID-19 had sped up digital transformation.

Challenging as this year has been for businesses, this will actually be a net positive in years to come. Getting the right message, to the right customer, at the right time will be vital for businesses in the decade ahead, and the forced acceleration of 2020 means businesses are now more prepared than ever.

In reference to how businesses have reacted to rapid digital acceleration in this new landscape, Scott Brinker describes how: 

We've recognized that we're more adaptable and agile than perhaps the digital transformation industry once thought it was
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US e-commerce penetration % 2009-2020. Image source: McKinsey

Prediction #2: Shift towards integrated suites and away from best-of-breed solutions.

There has been a significant shift in the preference for integrated suites over best-of-breed solutions. In 2019, only 29% of marketing technology leaders expressed a preference for an integrated suite. However, that percentage more than doubled, jumping by 30% in 2020.

One key factor driving this shift in preference is the trend of platform consolidation in the martech landscape. 

Notably, the partnership of Twilio and Segment last year confirms the untapped potential of integrated suites. Segment’s CDP, complemented by Twilio’s best-in-class customer engagement platform, represents a giant leap forward for marketers looking to orchestrate the customer journey under one roof. 

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2020 Marketing Technology Survey. Image Source: Gartner

Prediction #3: Increased data utility

If the 2010s were the era of big data and data collection, the next decade will be the era of data utility. 

The business that can act on the cleanest, freshest data will win.

The rise of data utility is shifting the focus away from big data towards big ops. As data collection becomes more mature, it’s likely companies will prioritize how they manage data and growth in the number of apps, automations, and processes operating across the organization in the years ahead.

Scott uses the metaphor of ‘far away data lakes’ becoming ‘interactive water parks’ to demonstrate how businesses are now able to engage and interact with the data in ways that weren’t previously possible in the era of big data.  

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Data distillation vs. data activation. Image source: Chief Martec

Prediction #4: Increased focus on martech ROI 

In the midst of a pandemic, with CMOs facing widespread budget cuts, it’s become more critical for businesses to use their data intelligently and efficiently. 

As a result, the focus on martech ROI is an increasingly important consideration. The days of marketing tech stacks as cost centers have passed. With the rise of the CDP in the modern tech stack, it’s no surprise that 58% of customers now expect customer data to drive revenue growth for their company

Efficiency is the new north star, and executives should expect a meaningful ROI from martech investments.  Our VP of Marketing, Katrina Wong, echoed this point in her discussion with Scott: 

At the end of the day, in order to grow in a scalable, and frankly, profitable way; you do have to look at [sales and marketing] efficiency
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Prediction#5: AI and human collaboration

In the decade to come, how will the role of automated intelligence evolve within the martech landscape? 

According to Scott, the expansion of AI and automation will not necessarily come at the expense of human opportunity in marketing. In fact, there will likely be an expansion of human/AI collaboration. 

The innate strengths of human marketers, such as creating meaningful customer experiences, will be further complemented by the speed of automated processes.  As technology advances, AI and machine learning will help cut through formerly manual processes allowing humans to shine.

A prime example is GPT-3, an automated language tool that uses machine learning to help marketers craft emails and other communications in real-time. 

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Harmonizing human + machine. Image source: Chief Martec


Despite the unexpected acceleration of digital transformation on the back of COVID-19, businesses managed to adapt. 

Many emerged from the crisis even stronger. One reason why could be the deployment of more CDPs than ever in 2020 to address the explosion of customer data.

With unprecedented competition for consumer attention on digital channels, companies are now required to act on their data intelligently, and with the help of consolidated platforms. 

Although Scott and Katrina’s predictions look to the future, we can already see an increased focus on martech ROI and data utility in the digital landscape today.

What will your tech stack look like in 2030?

In our new report, we surveyed over 4,000 customer data decision-makers to gauge current and future predictions for the customer data industry.

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