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SiriusDecisions TechX Preview: Sr. Research Director Gil Canare Shares Event Themes, Challenges For Technology Investment

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 4.42.18 PMAs the martech landscape continues to grow and more solutions grab marketers’ attention, technology investment has become a crucial topic of conversation for many organizations. In fact, research from SiriusDecisions’ 2018 CMO Study shows that nearly 60% of marketing leaders consider the implementation of new technologies and systems as “the organizational change required to support their companies’ growth strategy over the next two years.”

SiriusDecisions’ Technology Exchange (TechX) event aims to help B2B marketing and sales professionals figure out how to put technology to work and make it deliver on business goals. This year, the event is held in New Orleans, La. on November 7-9. I caught up with Senior Research Director of Marketing Executive Services Gil Canare prior to the event’s kick off to get a sneak peek into the key themes and sessions that will be presented. Read on to learn top challenges, what best-in-class organizations are focusing on in terms of tech investment and more.

Demand Gen Report: What is the theme of TechX this year and why/how did you decide on it?

Gil Canare: This year, we decided that we would have two themes for TechX. We looked at our clients and what they were dealing with, what they were struggling with and the direction of technology and asked, “If you’re a technology leader, what are the things that you’re interested in and dealing with right now?”

We identified two [challenges] that we believe are fairly universal. The first one is the need for businesses to support multiple revenue models within their company. What we mean by that is: companies are dealing with transactional sales like e-commerce or inside sales all the way out to the big traditional enterprise deals that people sell — sales people, lots of RFIs or things that take months. Many of the companies that we’re dealing with are trying to figure out how to support both of those within one tech stack and one set of processes. We think that’s something that everybody will be dealing with shortly.

The second thing that we focused on is how to deliver a seamless experience from a prospect to a first-time buyer to a repeat customer. With experience being a critical factor in long-term customer retention and initial sales, we thought it was really important to show how you can use technology to bridge that, whether you’re talking to them as marketing when they’re a prospect or as sales, when they’re close to being a buyer all the way to customer support when they’re long-time customers. We wanted to bring together some conversations around those elements.

DGR: Now, you had mentioned that this is what your clients are struggling or dealing with, but what are best-in-class marketers currently doing in terms of their technology investments to stay ahead of the curve?

Canare: Many of our best-in-class customers have spent the last few years putting together really robust and complex tech stacks. They’ve spent years assembling a set of technology that will let them do what they need to do. Most of them actually are pivoting away from building and into rationalizing. Their goal now is to take the investment that they’ve put both into technology and the people and the processes around it. Now, what they’re trying to do is streamline it, make it more efficient and make sure that it’s actually completely aligned to their business capabilities. It’s more about driving efficiency, speed and skill for our best-in-class customers now.

DGR: You’re kicking off the event with a keynote on fixing what’s broken with tech and B2B. Can you share a little bit of a sneak peek into the session?

Canare: When you look at technology over the last 10 years in marketing, sales and channel, you’ll see that we went from having a few core technologies to literally dozens or a hundred categories. Inside all of those categories, there are many, many vendors. When you look at the landscape, you’re just overwhelmed by the set of choices. That’s caused people to really focus on having a checklist and checking off the things that they think they should have. We think that checklist approach just doesn’t work. We actually call it “categoritis.” You’re so focused on making sure you checked all the boxes for each category, but you’ve stopped thinking about, “Do I actually need these things, or do I have multiple things that do the same thing?”

In our keynote, we’re going to talk about “categoritis.” We’re going to talk about the changes in the marketplace that we think caused that. We’re going to talk about what we believe the approach should be in curing it and then how to apply a set of strategies and a set of approaches to make sure that [businesses] build a tech stack that actually meets their needs, rather than just going down and checking off a list of categories.

DGR: What other sessions on the agenda stand out to you or do you recommend attendees checkout?

Canare: We’ve spent a lot of time working through the agenda. One of the challenges of today is that there’s so much to talk about. We will have 19 sessions. Every single one of them has been handpicked to really focus on the challenges that we talked about earlier.

We’ll roll out the SiriusDecisions E-commerce model in one of the sessions — something that I’m really excited to get out in the marketplace. We also put together a set of sessions that talk about, for example, “How do you put together content technology that covers both sales and marketing? How do you do sales enablement and channel enablement at the same time with the same set of technologies?” We’re really putting sessions together to bridge those disparate functions and talk about the commonalities and similarities, and how you can be more efficient at both. Lastly, we’ll provide some really prescriptive guidance in the labs. One of the things that we’re rolling out this year is something that we call, “Tech Stack On A Page,” where we’ll share the business requirements for your business problem.

Frankly, those business requirements can be met by multiple categories. We’ve created this deliverable that basically lists the requirements on one side and into different categories that are applicable on the top. It shows you exactly what you need to get or where you can get the capabilities. You can use it as an inventory, a way to figure out where you are and what you need. We’re really excited about those three labs and the kind of really prescriptive, usable guidance that they’re going to give. We have a great range of sessions this year and I’m really looking forward to everyone getting a chance to see all the work the analysts have put into this year.

DGR: TechX is in New Orleans this year … What’s your favorite thing about the city and what do you recommend attendees check out in their free time?

Canare: I have a ton of history in New Orleans. I actually got married in the cathedral in the French Quarter, so it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. When you come to it, especially for the first time, there’s a tendency to really focus on the French Quarter and all the stuff that’s there … and it’s great and you should totally do that. But once you get there, take a look at the rest of the city. The city has got a lot of other things to offer. There are all the great places to listen to music on Frenchman Street, there’s Magazine Street, there’s just taking a ride up the streetcar on St. Charles.

What I’d say is definitely go and experience the French Quarter, but then spread out. Go take a look at the rest of the city and see what it’s got to offer. It’s just food, music and good times. That pretty much encapsulates why it’s one of my favorite cities.