Overwhelmed by all the marketing technology \u2018platforms,\u2019 \u2018solutions,\u2019 and \u2018tools\u2019? You have reason to be.\nThe marketing technology landscape has grown nearly 40 percent in the past year, from about 3,500 software offerings in 2016 to 5,381 in 2017, according to Scott Brinker, program chair of the MarTech conference and editor of Chiefmartec.com.\nIn his keynote to kick off the May 2017 MarTech conference in San Francisco, Brinker shared his annual infographic that illustrates the martech landscape. For this year\u2019s edition, Brinker and associates somehow managed to squeeze in 5,381 graphics, each representing a specific software offering.\n\n[ Download CIO's guide to marketing automation software ]\n\nBrinker shared additional data points, along with insights into what\u2019s going on in the marketing technology sector today.\nImpressive growth since 2011\n\nIn 2011, the first year Brinker conducted his survey, there were only about 150 marketing technology offerings. That figure jumped to 350 in 2012, to about 1,000 in 2014, to nearly 2,000 in 2015, to 3,500 in 2016, and then to the current 5,381.\nThis year\u2019s martech offerings come from 4,891 different companies.\nFrom 2016 to 2017, 4.7 percent of the martech offerings were removed from Brinker\u2019s tally, some due to consolidation and acquisition.\nStartups represent 48.8 percent of the 2017 landscape. The average age of martech companies is seven years.\nThe martech industry\u2019s growth is impressive, and there continues to be a lot of money invested in the sector, Brinker said. About 2,300 of the companies represented in this year\u2019s landscape have received some sort of investor funding. But more than 2,000 are private companies that are self-funded or otherwise fully \u2018bootstrapped.\u2019\n\nThe high-level view is that the martech landscape consists of a few $1 billion (or more) software giants, dozens of leading companies with $100 million or more in revenues, and thousands of smaller niche innovators, vertical specialists, new challengers \u2014 some with only one to three people, Brinker said.\nEveryone has a platform\nPerhaps to no one\u2019s surprise, the industry is even more heavily emphasizing the concept of a marketing technology \u2018platform.\u2019\n\u201cThe word \u2018platform\u2019 is the secondmost common word used in the meta descriptions of these vendors\u2019 websites,\u201d Brinker said. \u201cIt\u2019s second only to the word \u2018marketing.\u2019\u201d A platform, Brinker reminded the audience, is \u201ca foundation for a third-party ecosystem to thrive.\u201d\nMore importantly, the growing use of the word \u2018platform\u2019 in marketing terminology indicates that developers realize it\u2019s not possible for one company to offer all the tools marketers need, Brinker explained. As a result, there\u2019s a growing emphasis on making it easier to integrate a variety of specialized, vertical software offerings.\nSuite vs. best-of-breed\nWith all the various tools and platforms available, some marketers wonder whether they should go with a suite of tools from a few vendors. or take a best-of-breed approach, cherry-picking specialized tools from a variety of vendors to create the ideal martech stack.\n\u201cIntegration between tools keeps getting better every year,\u201d Brinker said. \u201cAnd traditional suites have opened up their platforms to outside developers. So, more marketers are going with a suite and a best-of-breed approach. They\u2019re using suites as tent poles they can augment with more specialized, best-of-breed technologies specific to their business.\u201d\nBrinker added that he\u2019s seen as many as 39 different technologies incorporated into an individual company\u2019s martech stack.\nIs marketing an art or a science?\nDuring his keynote, Brinker invited onto the stage Mayur Gupta, global vice president of marketing and growth for Spotify. Brinker and Gupta collaborated with MarTech conference producer Third Door Media on a survey about the art and science of marketing.\nIn their survey of 637 participants, 59 percent were marketing professionals, 32.2 percent were hybrid marketing\/IT professionals, and only 1.3 percent were software development\/IT folks. The survey yielded some noteworthy results:\n\n71.5 percent of all participants had some computer programming background, suggesting that marketers are becoming even more tech savvy.\nWhen asked if data-driven marketing is more of a science than an art, 63.4 percent said it was more of a science, 33.1 percent said it was equal parts art and science, and 3.5 percent said it was more of an art.\nMost marketers, 93.7 percent, reported running experiments on at least a few marketing activities. But when asked to identify the hardest part of applying science to marketing, 43.3 percent said \u201cdesigning effective experiments to test hypotheses,\u201d and 42.1 percent responded with \u201crunning the actual tests.\u201d\u00a0\n\nWhile there\u2019s no decisive answer to the question of \u201cis marketing an art or a science,\u201d Gupta\u2019s answer is worth considering:\n\u201cMarketing is no longer about being an art or a science,\u201d he said. Marketing \u201cis art in science, and science in art. We need the left and right sides of our brains working together\u201d to meet marketing\u2019s ultimate challenge \u2014 creating a great customer experience.