As we approach this year’s holiday season, it’s important to take a moment to appreciate what a year this has been for marketing teams and for the world of martech. Our 2020 Marketing Technology Survey finds that 58% of marketing technology teams have either already faced a budget cut, or anticipate one soon. Despite the likelihood that you’ll have to do more with less, marketing technology utilization remains stagnant. Of the 29 technologies we asked about, nearly all were in use or in the process of being deployed by more than three quarters of survey respondents. With a glut of technology plaguing modern martech stacks, the challenge of utilization and rationalization is now front and center. When we asked about the technologies that respondents would be most likely to axe or defend if faced with a budget cut, those most likely to face the chopping block included employee advocacy tools and multitouch attribution (MTA) solutions. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that these same tools experienced lower levels of utilization, according to respondents. Just 18% of those with a multitouch attribution solution report using a large portion of what the tool has to offer. While the advanced features of MTA may be under heavy pressure in an environment where TPCs are under attack and identity resolution challenges persist, now is the time to reprioritize how you acquire new technology, maximize utility and prune tech that no longer serves your business. Despite the hype around fancy solutions with embedded AI/ML capabilities, the digital marketing leader in your work life probably doesn’t need more technology. So here are some gift ideas that might really help! A Martech Stack Audit: In our analysis of the martech stacks of over 500 brands, just 18% of brands had overcome martech complexity to deliver “Gifted” or “Genius” levels of digital performance. Avoid or reign in martech sprawl by taking stock of your current investments. Gartner clients can use Toolkit: How to Audit Your Marketing Technology Ecosystem. A Martech Skillset Audit: Building new processes or team capabilities was cited as the top approach that teams plan to use to increase martech utilization. Assess what your team is good at against your martech roadmap, or look to increase your team’s headcount to cover and do more. Support Continuous Training and Skill Development: like many nuggets of good advice, this one isn’t just applicable around the holidays. At our 2020 Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, I’ll be speaking about continuous skill development approaches in a session titled, Grow Your Martech Team and Skills to Maximize Impact. Offer to Help Update the Martech Roadmap: Forty-three percent of martech teams report that they update their roadmap quarterly - has that fallen by the wayside this year? Or is your team working to accelerate digital transformation using martech? Introduce Agile Marketing: set a goal of adapting agile marketing practices into marketing technology, such as proofs of concept and tighter “sprints” of iterative development to improve efficiency and your organization’s ability to respond to the changes ahead as we muddle through “The Reset.” Register for our 2021 Predictions webinar slated for Dec. 7. Improve Customer Understanding: Leverage Gartner’s host of surveys and tools like Gartner’s Consumer COVID-19 Concerns Tracker to keep a steady pulse on what your customers want, and why they want it. Use these insights to prioritize martech projects and investments accordingly. A Plan to Use Less Customer Data, Not More: The headwinds in tracking consumers across channels will increase dramatically in the coming years, and consumer awareness of their own data is increasing. Do more with less by coming up with a plan for how you can find the right data and evaluate how using it will create value for both the business and your customers. (see Predicts 2020: Marketers, They’re Just Not That Into You). A Customer Data Platform - Just kidding! Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they have one anyway! Join my colleague Lizzy Foo Kune for an “Ask the Expert Session,” Ask The Expert: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Customer Data (Platforms) Use Benchmarks. Use Gartner’s host of benchmarking tools, such as Gartner’s Digital IQ index to identify leading practices as well as uncover new opportunities for differentiation. Use our interactive visualization, Adoption and Prioritization of Martech Products to evaluate how your organization’s technology investments compare across industries, business models and company size. Plan for The Future: Gartner’s Danielle Bailey will shed light on digital commerce best practices coming out from China’s retail evolution that Western brands can adopt today and plan for tomorrow (see The Future of Retail: What Western Brands Can Learn From China I hope you and your family stay safe and enjoy the holiday season ahead. You might even feel like singing: if so, perhaps it’s time to Deck the Halls with Customer Data!