For years marketers have needed to manage a stable of unique, “best-in-class” vendors to deliver and optimize an enterprise digital customer experience – balancing application-specific skills, developing cross-platform tagging strategies, and hoping for consistency and accuracy across vendors. With each new digital marketing evolution, from Twitter to mobile, another vendor joined the mix.
Consolidation in the software marketplace and product line extensions by existing vendors are shifting the dynamic, offering the vision of simplified data management, operations, production, and analysis in one place, without sacrificing quality of data or functionality. Is now really the time? Have the product companies finally proven their ability to merge solutions? Are you ready to make the leap?
The Market Transition
Adobe may have started the trend, investing over $2 billion to bring Omniture and Day Software together to round out a full web experience solution offering. IBM followed suit, acquiring Coremetrics to bundle with its WebSphere suite of solutions. Even the mid-tier vendors are looking to own not just the experience, but the analytics and insights on performance. However, it’s only recently that the applications themselves have started working well together and will be another year before they are truly integrated.
This shift to integrated applications is happening not just in the experience management world, but with more traditional CRM vendors as well. Salesforce bought social media monitoring tool Radian6 for over $320 million. A few months before that it purchased cloud platform Heroku for Ruby for over $200 million. Salesforce also dropped almost $700 million for Buddy Media. Over $1 billion in acquisition costs to get its platform functional.
These three deals are significant not just for their size, but because they are shifting the dynamic of the market. Salesforce now has the ability to become the center of the app platform market, rather than a vendor whose data is being integrated offsite. By making it easier to develop off its platform and manage ad creation and spend, Salesforce is able to maintain a material role in managing not just the initial interaction, but all the other customer touch points. All of a sudden it is poised to float its own cloud of digital marketing solutions.
It’s this convergence of customer touch points that is core to this shift in the market. Vendors are realizing that their core products, be it content management or CRM, are becoming less valuable as the data they produce. In order to stay relevant, the focus is shifting to how the data is being used to optimize the customer experience.
What It All Means
The implications for this new era are mixed, but trending positive. Currently, the tools and services an analyst or marketer might use can be customized to fit specific needs – mixing and matching to fit your preference. Some might look at a consolidated marketplace and fear a loss in the quality or customization. But the tradeoffs are to be found in execution. Could smoother execution, less time focusing on cleansing of data, and more time assessing and optimizing balance out these concerns? Hopefully, yes.
Where do your vendors fit in this mix? Is it time to reevaluate and streamline?
It is important to take into consideration what companies like Adobe, Salesforce, and IBM are actually striving for: offering marketers a well-oiled, one-stop-shop for all digital marketing production, from content creation and delivery through outcomes-based analysis. With the conversation shifting from the tools to performance, hopefully we can get back to what really matters most, the customer.
Experience image on home page via Shutterstock.
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