On September 23, people gathered virtually for the 20th annual Swiss CRM Forum. This year’s forum focused on marketing technology, so it was only fitting to invite Chief Marketing Technology’s Scott Brinker to deliver the keynote.

Brinker is well-known as a martech thought leader. It’s his marketing technology supergraphic that’s documented the astronomical rise in marketing technology solutions in the last decade. 

At the Swiss CRM Forum, Brinker’s keynote focused on “The New Rules of Marketing Technology & Operations.”

As he pointed out during his talk, “We arguably spent the last decade on big data, collecting all this data. Now, we’re increasingly in a mode of: how do we harness that?” He argues that martech, when properly used, is the answer.

If you didn’t have a chance to join this year’s virtual event but want to learn more about these new rules, keep reading. We’ve outlined the key takeaways from Brinker’s keynote.

Here are his five new rules of martech.

#1: Centralize everything you can

In order for organizations to scale their marketing operations with the ever-increasing number of channels, alongside customers’ growing expectations, centralization is key.

By bringing everything together and eliminating data silos, marketers are best poised to create meaningful experiences personalized to their customers.

Additionally, centralization plays a critical role in scaling marketing ops. When data, workflows, and best practices are centralized, they can be refined and adapted as companies grow and their needs and opportunities change.

#2: Automate everything you can

#2: Automatisieren Sie so viel wie möglich

This might seem like an obvious rule. Marketing professionals increasingly lean on automation to enable them to accomplish everything they need to do on any given day.

Plus, automation enables real-time personalization, supporting interaction that creates top-quality customer experiences.

Still, though, Brinker thinks it’s worth looking at the automation opportunities available to your organization today. Here, he says to keep the customer at the forefront of your mind. “When we think about implementing technology and innovation, there are two facets of efficiency,” he says. “There’s efficiency that benefits the company, and then there’s efficiency that benefits the customer. We have to be careful about technology that improves efficiency for the company but doesn’t improve the experience for the customer.”

#3: Decentralize everything you can

Now, it gets more complex. With Brinker very recently pushing for centralization, this rule might seem counterintuitive. Fortunately, he explains how organizations can both centralize and decentralize at the same time.

“In marketing technology, we’ve seen a number of systems and technologies that both centralize and decentralize,” he asserts. “A CMS, for example, is a centralized content repository. But at the same time, most companies empower a broader range of people across the company to contribute, so it’s enabling decentralized work, too.”

He reminds us that once a centralized, integrated martech stack is in place, people in different roles and different locations are best positioned to create the assets and processes they need. “Decentralizing is about empowering teams for local experimentation and workflows,” he says. With the right martech stack in place, “anyone can develop, integrate, or analyze.”

In short, decentralization enables agility on the ground in various locations.

#4: Humanize everything you can

This rule runs opposite to the rule to automate everything you can. “We need to embed the human in all of this,” Brinker says, lest we lose brand values or the focus on creating the best possible customer experiences.

He explains, “Technology changes at an exponential rate. We need to be specific about which changes we embrace.” As organizations use their stack or consider new martech, they need to keep both their global mission and their individual customers in mind. If they don’t, they lose authenticity and compromise their brand.

#5: Embrace continuous change

Ultimately, Brinker says the previous four rules work along opposing axes. He says, “If you can pull together the four axes, you’re poised to be successful.”

As you consider opportunities to centralize and automate alongside ways you can decentralize and humanize, “you need to design for change from the very beginning. You need to create a martech stack that can evolve,” Brinker says.

Fortunately, he says, this undertaking isn’t as involved as it used to be. “It’s getting easier to design for change because the industry’s shifting toward more open platforms. It used to be suite vs. best-of-breed. Instead of either-or, now it’s increasingly both,” he explains.

With more agile tools and more open-minded thinking, marketers can embrace change to continually improve their martech stack. That, in turn, enables more effective, engaging marketing efforts, which ultimately improves customer experience and MROI.

Implementing the new rules of martech at your organization

Brinker says, “This is the state of modern marketing. It’s an incredible opportunity for us as marketers to innovate, to write the new playbook in a digital world.”

If these new rules of marketing technology triggered any ideas for you, don’t wait to act on them. Our team of martech specialists is here to help.

At gateB, we offer consulting services to help you plan the most effective, scalable stack for your organization. We ensure you get the right decentralization capabilities while carefully considering the values that will enable you to humanize your marketing efforts. Then, our implementation and integration specialists can build and customize the stack for you, ensuring you have the centralization and automation you need.


We see with many customers that producing a comprehensive overview and having an open discussion about the appropriate MarTech strategy can be helpful to get started and point the company in the right direction. 

René Affolter

Director, gateB