At Intellyx our focus is on digital transformation, so I spend a lot of my time helping digital professionals understand how to leverage the various technology options open to them to achieve their customer-driven business goals.
Who is a digital professional? People with titles like Chief Digital Officer, VP of Ecommerce, VP of Digital Marketing, or even Chief Marketing Officer – in other words, people who are marketers at heart, but who now have one foot solidly in the technology arena, as they’re on the digital front lines, where customers interact with the organization.
One of the most important activities that enables me to interact with such digital professionals is attending conferences on digital strategy. To this end I have been attending Innovation Enterprise conferences – first, the Digital Strategy Innovation conference a few weeks ago in San Francisco, and coming up, the Big Data and Marketing Innovation Summit in Miami November 6 – 7.
Full disclosure: Intellyx is an Innovation Enterprise media sponsor, and I’m speaking at the upcoming conference as well as chairing the first day – but choosing to be involved with these conferences was a deliberate decision on my part, as the digital professional is an important audience for Intellyx.
Nevertheless, my traditional and still core audience is the IT professional. Most of the conferences I attend are IT-centric, even though the digital story is driving much of the business activity within the IT world as well as the marketing world.
Even so, I find most tech conferences suffer from the same affliction: the echo chamber effect. By echo chamber I mean that tech conferences predictably attract techies – and for the most part, only techies. The exhibitors are techies. The speakers are techies. And of course, the attendees are techies. The entire event consists of techies talking to techies.
The exhibitors, therefore, are hoping that some of the techies that walk by their booth are buyers, or at least, influencers of the technology buying decision. And thus they keep exhibiting, hoping for those hot leads.
There were exhibitors at the Digital Strategy Innovation show as well – mostly marketing automation vendors, with a few marketing intelligence vendors mixed in. In other words, the vendor community expected the digital crowd to be interested solely in marketing technology. After all, the crowd was a marketing crowd, right?
True, that digital crowd was a marketing crowd, but that doesn’t mean their problems were entirely marketing problems. In fact, the audience was struggling much more with web and mobile performance issues than marketing automation issues.
So, where were the web and mobile performance vendors? Nary a one at the Digital Strategy Innovation summit – they were at the O’Reilly Velocity show, a conference centered on web performance that attracts, you guessed it, a heavily technical crowd.
What about the upcoming Big Data and Marketing Innovation Summit? True, there are a couple of Big Data technology vendors exhibiting, but the sponsorship rolls are surprisingly sparse. We media sponsors actually outnumber the paying sponsors at this point!
So, where are all the Big Data guys? At shows like Dataversity’s Enterprise Data World, yet another echo chamber technology show (although more people on the business side come to EDW than to shows like Velocity).
The moral of this story: the digital technology buyer is every bit as likely to be a marketing person as a techie, if not more so. For vendors who have a digital value proposition, centering your marketing efforts solely on technology audiences will miss an important and growing market segment.
It’s just a matter of time until vendors figure this out. If you’re a vendor, then who will be the first to capitalize on this trend, you or your competition?