The marketing industry never stops innovating and the best marketers are always scouting for new techniques, agencies and solution providers to help them fuel deeper customer engagement. From technology to talent investment, there is no shortage of areas crying for investment. According to’s Scott Brinker, marketers had nearly double the number of marketing technology solutions to assess and vet last year than the year prior. The challenge is where to focus and where to invest for sustainable growth.

To bring DMA members the most insightful data and perspectives to inform 2017 practices and 2018 investments, we spoke with more than a dozen of marketing’s top innovators and asked them what trends they were watching and how they plan to overcome the next technological disruption. You can read their full reports and predictions in the new DMA 2017 Statistical Fact Book, . Here’s a preview of perspectives from five data and marketing experts and leaders an agency evolution, data integration, viewability, AI and talent:

Joe Zawadzki – Founder & CEO, MediaMath:MediaMath Logo

In order to onboard new technology and invest deeper in data, machine learning and attribution, organizations have to find and train the right people. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the CMO Council’s June 2016 “Context, Commerce + Customer” report said having the right team and talent to manage and optimize these new tools was the greatest challenge to onboarding and integrating new and emerging technologies. There’s an increased need and willingness to rethink how the marketing organization is structured, both internally, from the bottom up, and externally, through vendors and partners.

Bruce Biegel – Senior Managing Director, Winterberry Group:WinterberryGroup_Logo_Web

The role of the marketing agency—and the services and capabilities offered—will continue to shift. As marketers rely on data and more complex technology to understand their audiences and plan and deploy relevant communications, new service provider entrants will continue to take share from traditional marketing agencies, including management consultancies, system integrators and CRM providers. To compete, agencies will continue acquiring businesses that offer digital, data and analytics expertise, they will re-integrate media and creative services and team up to form new independent provider networks.

Matt Seeley – Global President, Experian Cross-Channel Marketing:Experian Logo

Look for more brands and organizations to centralize their disparate data sets. With customers engaging with brands across various channels, many organizations have data sets that don’t always speak to each other. For example, point-of-sale systems, CRM systems and loyalty programs all capture unique data points about customers, but often live in separate databases or systems. By breaking down these silos and encouraging collaboration, marketers are able to access a more singular view of customers. And more informed marketers can create a seamless experience for those customers across all devices and channels.

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How are you allocating your digital marketing spend? TwitterLogo_#55acee

James Fink – CEO & Co-Founder, Optikal:Optikal_Logo_Vectors

Companies need to prioritize their mobile viewability and optimize their social platforms based on the mobile format. Consumers nowadays are spending more time on their smartphones than any other devices. According to comScore’s 2016 report on social media, almost 80% of social media time is spent on mobile. Cell phones will continue to overtake the digital landscape and it is no longer an option for marketers to ignore the mobile viewability, aesthetics, and functionality of their social campaigns.

Neil Feinstein, M.S. – Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, St. John’s University:001a918c-ded9-467b-9c07-7eba2dd02f46

With AI, response rates go up, costs go down and waste is minimized. Customers can potentially have immediate resolution to problems–or they may never know they have a problem because machines can predict and resolve issues before the alarm goes off. For example, patients can receive a renewal reminder robocall from a prescription provider. Not only will this impact health outcomes, it can boost brand affinity.

More than a dozen leaders have contributed their perspectives to DMA’s 2017 Statistical Fact Book. Executives from leading solution providers such as Return Path, Vehicle, IBM and more have shared how best to build a customer-centric marketing operation in the face of technological disruption. Download your copy of the Statistical Fact Book today and gain the business intelligence you need to make informed marketing decisions in the digital age.