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Episode Summary

Today, our guest on The PARTNERNOMICS Show is Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot. Scott shapes the HubSpot platform strategy and leads business programs for their gloal technology partner ecosystem. Since 2008, he has ran the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, analyzing topics at the intersection of marketing, technology, and management. The blog has now accumulated over 50,000 readers. In addition, Scott also launched the MarTech conference in 2014 where he now serves as the event’s program chair. 

Scott is also the author of the best-selling book “Hacking Marketing” and co-author of the article “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist“, published in Harvard Business Review.


Topics Covered

  • No Code: Will the massive proliferation of “no-code” capabilities decrease the demand for coders?
  • Marketplaces: Will marketplaces extend to resellers; will partners transact from a digital marketplace, then resell/implement end-user solutions without real-time engagement with the ISV/vendor?
  • E-commerce: E-commerce has passed in-person as the top channel for B2B sales. What critical factors enabled this to happen?
    • Necessity: Less ability to travel – be in-person
    • Ease of information gathering/research
    • Trusting information sources (independent rating)
  • Governance: Is governance underappreciated?
    • Partnering processes
    • Technology to help

Welcome to todays show we have Mr. Scott Brinker with us. Scott, how are you doing sir?

 I am great. Thank you so much for having me on the show mark.

So Scott, this is your first time on the show. So definitely looking forward to having you being a contributor on the partnernomics show, but Scott loved to just jump right in for those that might not be familiar with you or your background or the awesome work that you’ve done, the great blogs, the great thought leadership that you’ve put out. I’d love for you just to share a little bit about your background and kind of what you do.

Sure. So my background is you know, professionally been as a software entrepreneur I’d built like early web development company, build a SAS company for marketers. I’m currently the VP of platform ecosystem at HubSpot, helping HubSpot do a better job of being able to integrate with all the other amazing software tools out there in the business stack. But so that’s where that that’s my, a hat by which I actually earned a living. The other hat is, yeah, for about 15 years here. I’ve just kinda been like an armchair, analyst, advocate, enthusiast, whatever you want to call it. Obsessive compulsive, like passionate hobbyists around just this intersection. Between marketing and technology. Certainly all the technologies that have sprung up in the MarTech space, but even more so how these new technologies have just been changing the way marketing runs and the, the actual dynamics of modern marketing.

Yeah. I absolutely love the work that you guys do at HubSpot. We’ve been a client since our inception for many years. And absolutely love what, what you’re doing. You know, we’ve all heard software’s eating the world, but what’s, so I think awesome from a partnering perspective is now we all get to work together. At least there’s a greater opportunity for us to work together through APIs and other technologies to, to make that easy button, even bigger for clients. Now we can start to stack these different. Programs together. And I know your team does, does a lot of that work and allows it to come to fruition for, for HubSpot clients. And then your thought leadership that you put out here is, is awesome. And I’m a huge fan of that. So really looking forward to having your contributions to this.

So with that, let me set up the, the stopwatch here and let me fire the first question actually. No code. I absolutely love this topic, but the question is for no code, will this massive proliferation of no code these capabilities, will it decrease the demand for coders?

Yeah. Great question. To start out with. So the short answer is no. In fact, actually, if anything, it’s probably likely to like feed the demand for you know, not just coders, but really any kind of expert who, you know, if we go back to where we’ve been coming from, it’s like if general business users are marketers wanting to get things done, you know, for anything from like, oh, building this web experience, or I want this little workflow.

You know, I yeah, I want to do some sort of data analysis to answer a question, you know, like for a long time, it’s like anything that was going to get that sort of technical in nature bed to like file a ticket, wait for someone else who could do it for them, you know, outsource that to someone and, and for things that were fairly and sophisticated, that actually makes sense.

That’s totally what you want to do. But there were all these cases of things that like, oh, wow, I’d really like this. Or I have this idea or this question about this, that, to be honest, the idea or the question where they went to do was very relatively simple, but it almost wasn’t worth going through the effort of, yeah.

Okay. We should file a ticket for this, or we should hire a team to do this, you know, and to me, this is really where no code shines is it’s basically empowering marketers, general business users. Not to like solve the complicated use cases that we still absolutely have a ton of and, you know, really rely on experts to do, but it’s for all the non-expert use cases.

I just want to get this landing page job, or I just want to have this little workflow that when someone comes in on this landing page, I want it to trigger this thing over in slack, you know, and to have these tools now that let more and more of us. Yeah. Just kinda like bring these things to life. I think it’s, it’s a huge expansion of net productivity but in no way is taking away from, you know, pro developers.

In fact, if anything, I think it actually helps pro developers because let me tell you. Former pro developer myself. Right? I mean, poor developers. We like working on pro missions, you know, and, you know, climbing pages. Yeah, fine, fine, fine. Yeah. A web developer out there. Who’s like, Ooh, I would really love to like make a hundred variations of a landing page for the marketing data today.

It just, yeah, man, I could not agree more. Having spent time with a fortune 50 and in small business, how many times have we said, oh, don’t even, don’t even mention that it’s going to require development time or development dollars, you know, development resources. So just don’t even worry about it. But then we’ve also talked about as an economist, how many times I’ve heard well, robots, right?

Robots are going to take people’s job. Well, somebody has to program them. Somebody has to build them at the, you know, our, our unemployment rate. Arguably as low as it’s kind of ever been granted in the middle of the pandemic, that that causes some issues, but I don’t see jobs being taken away, but absolutely to your point, I’m totally with you.

I think the no code piece just really improves or just really highlights all of the additional opportunities. That’s going to come from teams being able to. Use data, use the information make all of this electronic, make things more scalable. If anything I think is just only going to add to that to, to share a quick blast from the past.

I remember one of the first businesses that I started up right around 2000, I used Microsoft front page to help me write, you’ll build a website. I didn’t know the first freaking thing about coding, but that was kind of my first foray into if you want to call it no coding or I just kind of dragging and dropping and building out a web.

Wow. Look at all the capabilities that are out there today for professional. Yep. And I think actually it helps bring technical professionals and business users a little bit closer together because often one of the biggest gaps that it existed, there was just the translation of, oh, I have this idea in my head, but how do I, you know, describe it in a way that, you know, is concrete requirements to get built.

Right. You know, ages of, you know, craziness of misunderstandings there, you know, but with like no code, even for just. Business users will be able to scribe things, you know, more in the context of a software language, or to even like mock something up in the no-code tool. Not meant to be like, you know, the actual production thing, we’d be creative, but just as a way to help communicate the idea.

I think it just bridges that communications gap. And that’s a really good thing for you. Yeah, no question. No question. Good stuff. All right. We ready for question number two? Yeah. I’ve, I’ve got one for you near and dear to my heart here. So marketplaces you know certainly a topic you know, in the news.

I’m curious. We, do you see marketplaces extending to resellers to the point where partners will like transact from a digital marketplace? And then resell, implement end user solutions without ever having any real time engagement with like the ISB or the vendor. I mean, this, this is this future near far.

I think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting to me because I am just now starting to hear some of our clients say this and actually the surprise is that it came as a surprise. To them. So in particular, I’m thinking of one client that’s in the massive client, that’s in the security space and a downloadable software to, you know, for security and.

Just the massive efficiencies of having the marketplace, not having to have this synchronous transaction, but just somebody can go into it 24, 7 by 5, 10, 15, a thousand licenses, whatever the number is, but, but do that transaction from a very, you know, from this, from this platform in a very efficient manner.

And then now they can go on and, and provide their value, add services, whatever those are. Honestly, I never really put a lot of thought into this topic beforehand, but why would it be any different, you know, then what we do for, for our very own clients. So yeah, I mean, it feels like this is going to, it’s such a massive time savings, such a massive opportunity.

Scalability. I totally think that we’re going to see this continue to evolve as a trend. Love to get your thoughts on. Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. And this is probably a theme. Well, we’ll, we’ll touch on again in this chat too, you know, but it’s like, there’s all these ways we’ve had of doing business that, you know, go back tens of years or in some case, hundreds of years or thousands of years, you know a certain amount of them just, you know, like, you know, cultural approaches to how we get things done.

And that’s good. I mean, there should be a certain respect for, you know, a, a tradition and culture and all this, but at the same time, yeah. What’s happened with digital technology is. Enabled a set of possibilities for how we transact and do business that weren’t ever even like conceivable certainly nowhere near possible before, you know, and over the past decade, couple of decades, you know, sort of been rising up of like, yeah, we see these digital tech.

Yeah. We could do it this way, but you know, culturally, you know, traditionally, this is the way we do it. So we’re just sticking with that. And then yeah, the craziness of the pandemic, which, you know, again, just kind of knocked good things, you know, from the pandemic. But one of the things that I guess was a silver lining in the context of, you know, digital thinking and digital strategies, people just forced into a mode where like, okay, well the old ways, the traditional ways we would think about doing this.

Actually, we can’t do them that way. So what’s our alternative. Oh, well, let’s give this digital stuff a try. And all of a sudden, like people started wheeling like, oh, you know, this, this can work. And actually, you know, we thought it was going to be less of an experience for reasons X, Y, and Z, but we’re actually finding in many ways it’s a better experience because of reasons a, B and C.

And I think what’s going to happen here is hopefully. Navigate our way out of, you know, the past couple years of, you know, macro craziness, you know, is it’s going to be this really interesting time where we start to, I just think, get very innovative about how we blend some of the traditional and cultural ways we’d approach, you know, certain business you know, engagements in the past.

And now that we’ve had a taste and some experience of what’s possible on the digital side. And where do we find the, the blend between those. I think it’s just going to be a lot of experimentation and innovation, you know, across many fields, but certainly in like partner networks reseller channels. Yeah, the game is a foot.

Yeah. It’s amazing how you had mentioned Scott, that we were kind of just forced into this right there by the pandemic. You didn’t have a choice and so much whenever I think of technology adoption. That’s kind of like this cultural thing and you have to kind of be slow and make sure that people are comfortable with it as you’re moving it along with COVID we didn’t have the opportunity for that.

So it was kind of like sink or swim. You got to figure out how to at least doggy paddle or you’re going to be in big trouble. What I found really interesting going back to several years ago, whenever we would talk to folks, literally all over the world about working with us partner Nomics, we use video conference.

And it was either. It’s funny to think back now how much time we spent trying to get people comfortable with believing that their teams could work on video conferencing. Well, now everyone’s like a pro at zoom and teams and all these other things. So it’s amazing what we could do if we’re forced into that.

But now we look back in this crazy science experiment that we call COVID, that’s forced us to work remote, but really become more reliant on technology. Yeah. Wow. What a different a world that is now from, from a technological perspective and a collaboration. Yep. Yeah. And I’m, again, I’m where I’m just the most excited about this is that the hybrid future you know, and how we blend the best of both.

I mean, this is completely what they call that like a, is a tearing pug. Neat. It’s like, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re sailing out into an ocean, not quite your was on the other side of the ocean, but we are determined to discover it. And yeah. It’s an adventure. Absolutely. It’s I’m going to have a question for you on that one for our next episode, but here we go.

Question number four that you get to pose to me and then we’ll be wrapping up for, for this episode. Yeah. Okay. So this one was I was thinking about this the other day. It’s the whole concept of governance, you know, and it’s one of those words that usually when people hear that, like, oh God, you know, and I guess that kind of leads me to the question of.

It’s governance under appreciated. Oh, yeah. It’s, what’s interesting is like the word governance. It’s almost like kind of the word partnering. That’s almost like kind of timeout. What does it mean to you whenever you think of partnering? What does it mean whenever you think of governance? Where does your brain go?

And so, you know, working with a fortune 51 part of my brain goes to you know, regulatory and compliance and all these. You know, places as, as a partnering professional and somebody that’s done a lot of truly strategic partnering my brain goes to. Okay. So a lot of innovation working with other organizations we need to have executive support.

We need to have this channel where we can pull these executives together, make decisions, keep them informed as to what we’re doing. Generally speaking. Yes, absolutely. I think that governance is under appreciated, but from, from multiple lenses and multiple layers. One of those. And one of the things that we coach folks on here at partner Nomics is just, if you are embarking upon a truly strategic partnership, right.

High innovation, there’s there’s not a script written for it. There’s lots of opportunities for things to go wrong, high collaboration going to need a lot of communication. You need to have you know, channels connections into the respect of executives, because a lot of decisions are going to have to be made.

You need to keep them abreast of how things are transpiring and have their support and their horsepower to get things done as you continue to move this conversation forward. But I know in a, in a recent blog and a recent thought leadership post. You talk about this, this question, but more from a technology side.

So I’d love to get your take on this as well. Governance and kind of what’s the bigger picture of governance or how do you think of it? Yeah. Well, in some ways this goes back to, you know, the very first question you opened with around no-code it’s like, oh, wow. So now we’ve got all these tools to like empower people to do all sorts of stuff, you know?

Yay. But then like the very next question. Oh, my goodness. So how do we manage all that? How do we keep track of it? Makes sure this stuff is good. That’s not, you know, running into the wild west. And the answer to that question is governance. And I think, you know, yeah, there’s some very interesting software solutions that are coming up to help us get our arms around, you know, the governance challenge.

But yeah, ultimately that is a tool that’s still in the service of, you know, governance as you know, Organizational you know, capability and the people on the processes. Right. And I think one of the things that occurred to me the other day was so I’ve, I’ve, you know, my, my, the love of my professional life has been marketing operations people, you know, and for a long time marketing ops was just really under appreciated because yeah, we need them for certain stuff, but it wasn’t really considered what real marketing was all about, you know?

And so they were doing all this work, but not getting along the love. Now that’s changed, actually. In fact, it’s accelerated, it’s changed at these past few years where like now people are recognizing, oh my goodness. So much of what we’re running in marketing, you know, depends on this infrastructure. You know, an operational capability of the marketing ops people are becoming heroes.

Partly because they’re leveraging all this technology to be able to amplify, you know, the number of things we’re doing and the capabilities, but it’s interesting at the same time that the ops people are now finally becoming heroes, they’re getting some appreciation, this explosion of the, both the complexity you know, in the digital firm, but also just the acceleration, the speed of which things are moving.

It’s now sort of shifting the burden into this governance layer. And at the moment the governance folks probably aren’t particularly appreciated either, but. I’ll bet $20 here that if we play this out, you know, three years from now yeah. You know, governance as a, as a discipline, as a profession, as a capability inside the organization, they’re, they’re going to be here as well.

It seems to me, at least from, from my see, from my vantage point over definitely over the last decade. Marketing has really been turned into a science with the ops folks, with data, with being able to see that cause and effect it’s like, okay, so now we know where to go spend our money, spend our resources, the next investments that we need to make in marketing so we could get particular ROI.

But now in this partnering world, now we’re starting to, well, another term that’s near and dear to mind in your heart. And that is ecosystems. Now we’re seeing more and more and more companies working together. But now we kind of have people thinking about the liabilities and these other pieces and you know, on the FinTech side, the financial services, right.

That’s one of the most heavily regulated industries that’s out there. So, so many compliance issues with them as well. This, this governance world will help them hopefully better manage that. Well, Scott, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing your insights. Ben, a quick in and out, but I’m already looking forward to the next time we get to do.

Sounds good, mark. Thanks again for having me love the chat. Thank you, sir.