Forget the Martech 5000. Try the Martech 500 Million.

Digitally Transformed Companies Contribution to Worldwide GDP

Okay, there aren’t really going to be 500 million martech apps by 2023.

And if there were, we certainly wouldn’t attempt to map them in a martech landscape. (Crikey, that’s a nightmare that will haunt me in the dark of night.)

But according to IDC in their IT Industry 2020 Predictions, “over 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud native approaches” by 2023.

500 million. Let that sink in. (Where’s an Austin Powers’ meme image when you need it?)

Now, the vast majority of those will be apps only run by the company that builds them, for their own purposes, and not packaged up as apps for other companies to run (i.e., not new SaaS businesses). Building apps is simply inherent to digital transformation.

A digital business will create a ton of custom-built, customer-facing apps — on the web, mobile devices, voice assistants, IoT, etc. — as touchpoints for doing business with customers digitally. And it will surely build orders of magnitude more internal-only custom apps to run their operations and processes backstage.

500 million is an eye-popping number. But it’s not hard to get there. Consider that there are millions of apps in the app stores of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. There are 100 million code repositories in Github, and that was back in 2018. All the no-code/low-code products out there have untold many more apps within their platforms — and are making it easier than ever for anyone to build new apps.

And in the big scheme of things, we’re still early in the digital transformation journey.

In the chart at the top of this post, IDC predicts that we will grow from around $12 trillion in worldwide GDP driven by digitally transformed businesses in 2018 to a whopping $50 trillion in 2023.

Yes, those figures are pre-Covid-19. GDP growth predictions for the next year or two are up for revision. But the directional trend outlined here is, I believe, ultimately correct, and it will pick back up on the other side of this crisis. Actually, there’s an argument to be made that the percentage of businesses “digitally transformed” will stay on track — perhaps even accelerate — in response to the crisis.

So while the 8,000 solutions identified in this year’s marketing technology landscape is, whew, a lot, relative to the total number of apps proliferating around the world, it’s merely 0.001% of what IDC predicts in the next three years.

To complement that sobering thought, I leave you with this moment of Zen from the amazing Tom Fishburne on “urgency without clarity on digital transformation.”

Digital Transformation Without Clarity

Hat tip to James Gross for pointing me at this report.

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