During Marketo’s 3-day Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco this week, Saugatuck noticed several developments that attest to the rapidly-growing influence of Marketing as a locus and shaper of Cloud Business and the growing shift toward “digital business” strategies.

The event drew 6,000 attendees this year, up from 2,500 in 2013. Marketo itself introduced a slew of updates and changes, including an updated user interface, new real-time personalization capabilities for websites, and a new dashboard view that can become a portal for other applications in the Marketo partner ecosystem.

It was clear that Marketo and its partners are intent on expanding their audience beyond the core technology and startup businesses that have been their earliest adopters to include larger and more traditional types of enterprises, including Kaiser Permanente, CA Technologies, and General Electric (GE) – with GE CMO Beth Comstock keynoting on the third day of the event.

The scope of Marketo’s ecosystem is also growing rapidly to include numerous integrations, applications, analytics solutions, data analytics platforms, etc. “Marketing is a team sport” was a mantra oft-heard in presentations, and Marketo’s partner network was no exception, with many vendors offered services to help expand the capabilities of Marketo’s core service, as well as to tie Marketo data together with CRM systems such as Salesforce.

Why is it Happening?

The discussion of Digital Marketing’s rapid pace of change and maturation were constant, from the keynotes, to customer conversations, to the tradeshow booths. Saugatuck repeatedly heard phrases like, “it wasn’t like this 6 months ago” to, “we’ve never had anything in IT that changes so fast” to, “the change this has caused [for my organization] is massive; we’ve never been at the cutting edge like this before.” These themes were consistently expressed throughout the more than a dozen customer conversations we had – with user firms of all types and sizes emphasizing that they are working hard simply to keep up with the pace of change.

While the marketing organization has long been champions of all things digital, today’s Digital Marketing capabilities are becoming core to marketing strategies – and a key cornerstone of the important transformation that is occurring, as many company’s increasingly becoming “digital businesses.” This is especially true for business-to-consumer and business-to-business entities that are built on and around IT as a core part of their operations.

Even as marketers face unprecedented challenges in keeping up with the pace of change, businesses as a whole face a similarly tumultuous shift in the way new technologies present a moving target, as businesses seek to modernize and improve existing processes. In that way, at least, Digital Marketers have it easier; although their pace of change is the fastest in business, they also don’t have the vitrified business processes to modernize as they go forward. Saugatuck research indicates that digital business / Cloud Business efforts by marketers will drag the IT systems that they depend on forward faster than most other business units.

Even an industry leader like Marketo is being kept on task by the rapidity with which the market twists and turns, and the number of innovators trying to compete for a competitive edge in this space. GE CMO Beth Comstock shared, “What scares me is that all technologies are moving so fast…they are so interconnected.” She followed that by asking, “How fast can you be? How much experimentation can you do?”

To read the Market Impact, click here.

This blog was originally published on Saugatuck's Lens360 blog on April 10, 2014. Published with permission