How do you solve a problem like MarTech-ia?

For the longest time in the Marketing Technology space, Scott Brinker’s chart of MarTech vendors has been used as an indicator of how the vendor space in Marketing Technology is booming.  There can be no argument about that.  For those of us who have been looking at this chart since it’s first edition, it is stunning to see how many players there are in the Marketing Technology space today.  The 2016 version of this chart has over 3500 vendors.  I have used this chart in presentations to executive management to explain the need for a Marketing Technology Office, the growing importance of Marketing Technologists inside and outside the marketing department and frankly to scare the hell out of people who believe that this is just a passing fad.

For company leadership in Marketing Technology however, there has always been a rather large elephant in the room.  As the former Head of Marketing Technology at a $62B health insurance giant, my team and I always struggled with how these charts help our people & management teams do their job.  Of these 1000s of vendors, how do we know which vendors can do the level of work we need them to do, serve the millions of customers we have, scale to the volume over time that we might need, have the security that protects our customers, and can get through the reviews of procurement and info security that inevitably happen with large companies?  Our teams spend days/weeks/months trying to plow through the various vendors in all these categories to find the ones who can solve our business challenges and create exceptional CX that is relevant and personalized for our customers.  In conversations with my previous peers, I validated it was a problem that many large companies struggled with constantly.

In building Open Lantern we realized (and heard from companies) that they needed an easier way to quickly identify vendors who could help large enterprises in their MarTech needs.  The easiest crutch has been to go to the large ‘cloud’ solution companies (you know the ones) and buy their stuff.  The truth is however that there are many other vendors who are not that large who can and have been serving customer needs for many years.  To that end, we selected our initial batch of enterprise vendors whom we know through our own past relationships, word of mouth from other executives, 3rd party reviews or from the vendors themselves, and listed them as enterprise capable vendors who match the criteria we described above.  Over time this list will get added to as vendors and companies come to us to be added to the lists.  It isn’t perfect but we are ok with that.  We had to start somewhere.

We look at our enterprise MarTech vendors in 3 groups.  Those vendors that help create customer experiences, those that help in the measurement of those experiences and finally vendors who provide solutions that store data that can drive relevant and personalized interactions with customers.  There is some crossover between these groups, for e.g. there are vendors in the Create Customer Experiences grouping that also have analytics built into their products.  The overall idea however is that the main reason their technology exists is to build an experience for customers to interact with brands.  We will be breaking down each of these categories in much greater detail in following posts on each group.

In the meantime, here is our chart for Open Lantern vendors.  A vendor cannot buy themselves into this chart.  We select them based on our research and who they serve as customers.  They need to serve the needs of companies who have large volumes of customers, have an ability for their solution to scale and the fortitude to deal with the bureaucracy and complexities of working within the rules of large companies.  Vendors can add themselves into the product for free by contacting us if they meet our large enterprise criteria.

Open Lantern is a secure, SaaS based product for complex, digital organizations to build and understand their internal MarTech landscape and then evaluate how their digital & business strategy aligns with their available technology. More information at