Anyone not lost in the jungle believing World War II is still raging also knows that a successful software product is the key to riches almost unimaginable.
Anyone not lost in the jungle believing World War II is still raging also knows that a successful software product is the key to riches almost unimaginable. Facebook is buying a firm called WhatsApp, which employs 100 people and allows its 450 million users to bypass texting fees using IP protocols, for an ornamental $19 billion. That's billion. Breaking that number down to something the average thousandaire can relate to, it means a stadium full of nearly 40,000 individuals each with a half-million dollar portfolio for retirement.
Is it any wonder there are 50 or 100 software solutions for every business niche?
Is it any wonder most buyers are either lost in a research funk or just go with whatever big name they heard at the last meeting? Are there experts who know the broad business-to-business software business well enough to be a guide? Are there experts who know the digital marketing space well enough to be a guide?
The answer to the second question is: yes. I know a couple of them on very close acquaintance. Their focus is relatively narrow - digital marketing - but their knowledge is quite extensive and grows out of a history with building and launching digital marketing software companies, and of working with large end-users deploying much of said software.
There is absolutely a strong market demand for navigation through the bayous of software-as-a-service (SaaS). Who are the players that will still have their heads above water when you come back before sundown? Who are the mayflies that buzz you and then die off before you can remember their key differentiator? Who are the top predators in the ecosystem - the ones that will swallow others and allow you to stick with a platform for something like the long term? Experts can help you with a good searchlight and good rapport with the natives.
But there's another way as well, and while it's not the same as getting a consultant on your team, it certainly pulls together lots of data and advice about lots of different software vendors in the B2B space.
Recently I came across a promising company called Software Advice that provides detailed information on software in more than 20 different industries including "Business Intelligence" and "Marketing Automation." Perhaps soon they'll add "Digital Marketing" but for now the BI section and the MA sections are a boon to anyone wanting to understand the basics about the concept of BI/MA as well as the respective "market spaces." In BI you'll find sections about Birst, Gooddata, Sharepoint, SAP, and Yellowfin, among about 20 others. We wish they had included Tableau and Alteryx but perhaps that will come. Under Marketing Automation you'll find Eloqua, Marketo, and Salesforce/Pardot. We would have wanted to include HubSpot, Leadsius, AudienceStream, and InsideView, but as Software Advice charges nothing to the business user, this may be an artifact of their still needing to strike referral deals with companies not listed.
At the site, you can find out about pricing and arrange a demo of all the software listed. They also have an 800 number if you want an analog unit-to-unit connection.
Software about software may not be brand-new in concept, but it's an appealing one. A major nightmare for any digital marketer looms in the form of a dark wetland populated by every kind of software creature and consultant - some in stealth, some brightly colored, some bearing nutritious fruit; and somewhere there are unexploded shells left over from the last war. In order to cut through the stiffest timber in the swamp you'll probably want some help. Software Advice is a great place to start. Working with folks who really know the software in a particular vertical can also save sweat and tears and misrepresentation and occasionally outright robbery.
If it were me buying software for the enterprise, I would not go into the SaaS bayou without at least a map; and preferably a ranger or at least someone who knows how to pole a boat past vendor promises on the way to selecting a solution. Of course you're going to do your research and due diligence. I've just suggested a couple of ways to make that necessary process go smoother and the choices more certain.
Andrew V. Edwards is a digital marketing executive with 20 years of experience serving large organizations, and has been an operating executive and digital marketing consultant since the 1980s. Currently he is a partner at Efectyv Digital, a digital analytics consulting firm. Andrew combines extensive technical knowledge with a broad strategic understanding of digital marketing and especially digital measurement, plus hands-on creative in the form of writing and design.
In 2004 Edwards co-founded the Digital Analytics Association and is currently a director emeritus. He has designed analytics training curricula for business teams and has led seminars on digital marketing subjects.
Besides writing a regular column about analytics for ClickZ, Andrew wrote the groundbreaking "Dawn of Convergence Analytics" report, which was featured at the SES show in New York (2013).
His book Digital Is Destroying Everything, published by Rowman & Littlefield, will be released on June 15, 2015.
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