Gartner VP/analyst Todd Berkowitz maintains that Account-Based Management could soon be locked in a competitive stance with marketing automation tool, and that might mean for a big strategy change for marketers.

According to Todd, ABM has been around for a while, starting with very large companies looking at their top 50 accounts and trying to figure out how to increase their customer base. But when last month, he and Senior Director/analyst Noah Elkin released their “Market Guide for Account-Based Platforms, a new interesting line of thought opened up.

While traditionally  B2B sales was oriented toward key accounts to sell them more product, and marketing was focused on new customer acquisition, many digital marketers originally found new business by targeting and nurturing profiles of individuals – decision makers.

In a step forward, marketers can use new intelligent tools allow to target prospective new accounts, at scale, while juggling interactions with individuals from that account. So, as these ABM tools evolve more capabilities, there is a tug of war between these tool providers and marketing automation platforms. The impact of this battle on marketers’ future options in tool selections, customer data management and other areas, can be big.

The advent of AI has also been a boost for ABM tools. AI was earlier used by ABM to drive the automated selection of target accounts via predictive analytics. Now it is also nurturing market responses, and shadowing individuals who matter in the decision making process.

Increasingly, it is also driving the intelligent orchestration of nurturing and other marketing responses, based on how the targets respond, their needs and profiles, the perceived hierarchy of individuals in that account, and so on.

ABM focused platforms Engagio, Demandbase, Terminus, 6sense, Radius and RollWorks offer many more capabilities than marketing automation platforms like Marketo and Salesforce. However, account nurturing is not still one of the strong points of these ABM platforms. However there is a need for ABM tools and platforms to evolve rapidly, and develop more marketing automation platforms capabilities, maybe by an increased use of AI. They will soon be able to offer the key interaction capabilities that are needed to pursue an account and hence can get a bigger share of marketers’ budgets.

The next move could be on the established platforms like Adobe/Marketos, Salesforces, Oracle Eloquas and B2B toolsets growing around Customer Data Platforms. They will need to quickly decide whether to fully develop their ABM side, or to buy an existing ABM vendor. The battle lines are drawn already, Berkowitz maintained.