If we weren’t completely sure before, time spent at this week’s MARTECH Boston conference confirmed it: technology is exploding and is smarter than ever.

If you haven’t seen the most recent technology landscape, it’s eye-popping with more than 5,000 technologies… and growing! It’s difficult enough to simply try and process the version that removed all the logos and just showed the number of technology offerings by category. The sheer number of options is truly incredible.

The conference hallways were lined with technology vendors all showcasing their best success stories and latest advancements. The RogueTHINK team was like a couple of kids in a candy store, mulling over the many ways that different tools could be utilized in the clients and prospects we serve.

But it wasn’t long though before everything started sounding the same. The analytic plot diagrams looked the same. The features and benefits… yep, you guessed it, they felt the same too.

As you might imagine, there was a healthy amount of conversation around AI, and the role it plays in the future of marketers. It’s a hot topic to be sure. There’s even a website that will tell you the probability of your job being taken over by a robot.

In a world of 350 categories of marketing technology that solves similar needs and feels poised for future automation, as marketing strategists, we actually left the event highly hopeful of our future role. As the technologies commoditize and the robots make it simpler, easier, cheaper to do that heavy lifting, that means the marketing thinkers are free to do the harder work of building engagement, experience, usability, inspiration and growing connection.

Because as powerful and helpful as technology can be, it shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. After all, it’s not the horse you’re betting on… it’s the jockey. Or maybe all this AI, AR and other advanced analytic technology can best be compared to, as Marketo CEO Steve Lucas suggested, Iron Man. Now, Tony Stark is witty and funny to be sure… And the red and gold suit is top notch and bleeding edge technologically… But how effective is either on its own? Technology works best when it plays the role of wing man/woman… What if it’s the marketer and the machine working together, and not the robots rising up to take over?

The data and conversation topics were many. How to maximize LTV… How to focus on customer conversations… The rise of AI… Account Based Marketing… The right way to select (and staff) marketing technology… Proving ROI… and so much more. It’s a lot to take in.

For now, we leave you with the following additional thoughts:

Insights Gathered

  • While you know they’re everywhere and in everything… it’s something altogether different when you visually see the vast numbers of technologies Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have collected to dominate the entire customer stack.
  • Good strategy > great tech
  • Business-based-bots are popping up everywhere. and, turns out, we love them. 70% of people are happy to interact with a bot. 67% are happy to purchase something through a bot.
  • The average vertical industry uses 1,000 cloud apps!
  • If you’re keeping pace with the competitive advancements of the companies that do what you do, you’re only doing half the work. You’re actually competing with the companies that have created new levels of expectation around personalization, ubiquity and speed (think Netflix, Google, Uber).
  • Best-in-class technology may not be the right choice for you. The key is to instead look for how connectable any technology will be with your existing stack.

Technology that Made Us Say WOW!

  • Virtual reality has found its way to a feature length animated film. Penrose Studios releases Allumette where the main character hands you an object and believably interacts with you. Check it out.
  • Netra and Cloudinary are powerful photos and image analysis/optimization tools
  • Stackla grants you additional social mileage for user-generated content
  • Ghostery offers an inside look at technology companies are using

Areas Rogue will be Investigating Further

  • Block chain marketing – how will it disrupt, well, everything
  • Dark tech and how to take account of it

It’s only as we process all that we heard in the coming weeks and months, that we’ll know the true value and wealth of knowledge that we picked up at this year’s Martech. But here’s something we’re confident about: If your business is ready to partner with some smart “jockeys” that are committed to weaving business processes, technology and marketing into a fabric that can set you up for short and long-term success, then maybe it’s time to GO ROGUE.