Today's Forecast: Partly Cloudy With A Chance Of Hybrid Deployment

I’m a big fan of the cloud – and not because I live in the United Kingdom, which actually gets a lot more sunshine than people think. Seriously, I like the cloud because of the opportunities it brings for enterprise marketing technology deployment. Note that I said “opportunities,” as in potential; although Forrester’s research shows SaaS is the leading factor driving system replacements and net new investments in business applications, there is still work to do where marketing technology is concerned.

But what about all the so-called “marketing clouds” on the market? Surely, they offer cloud-based solutions, right? Cloud-based, yes; exclusively in the cloud, no. Of the eight modules in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager remain largely hosted or on-premise solutions today. Within the Oracle Marketing Cloud, loyalty and marketing resource management (MRM) modules offer on-premise deployment options. Last week, IBM announced the IBM Marketing Cloud – based on the Silverpop acquisition, with IBM Campaign (formerly Unica) retaining a “marketing software” description. Even the majority of Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers employ a hybrid model for customer data management.

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The Real-Time Interaction Management Space Is Dizzyingly Fragmented

Back in February, I published a brief on Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management, where I reviewed evolving requirements for building a contextual marketing engine, capable of engaging empowered customers across real-time channels. These requirements include: customer recognition, contextual understanding, decision arbitration, offer orchestration, and measurement and optimization. 

As promised then, I have been researching the RTIM space, and you can now read my latest report Market Overview: Real-Time Interaction Management, published last week. In this market overview, I look at four distinct – yet all critical – approaches to RTIM:

1.      Enterprise marketing technologies address all five RTIM requirements, though offerings vary widely by vendors who focus on enterprise marketing software suites (EMSS), cross-channel campaign management (CCCM), marketing automation, business process management (BPM), customer relationship management (CRM, and loyalty programs.

2.      Advanced analytics is a prerequisite for successful RTIM execution, addressing all requirements except offer orchestration.  The broad analytics spectrum includes customer profiles, predictive models, and digital intelligence for web analytics, tag management, and identity management.

3.      Digital marketing solutions address personalization for websites and social media channels, and include advertising technologies such as data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform functionality for paid media targeting and re-targeting.

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Enterprise Marketing Vendors Raise Their "A" Game

A = Analytics (or more precisely, customer analytics).

At its Summit in Salt Lake City this week, Adobe unveiled new analytics functionality for its Marketing Cloud. Taking a granular view of real-time analytics, Adobe is differentiating requirements for live stream (instantaneous) data vs high frequency metrics (10 seconds) vs current data (90 to 180 seconds) and more traditional customer analytics, such as segments (20 minutes), site visits (30 minutes), data feeds to a warehouse (1 hour), and long-term reports (days). The goal is to shift today’s reporting paradigm via more ad hoc analysis, while adding machine learning capabilities for continuous optimization.

One week previously in San Francisco, Salesforce launched Predictive Decisions for its Marketing Cloud. Focused on personalized campaign execution, the enhanced Salesforce functionality promises to empower marketers by harnessing the power of data science.  The primary components are a collect beacon to stream real-time content updates and user behavior to marketing apps, new workflow automation to trigger data-driven campaigns, and predictive decisions to personalize offers based on conversion propensity.

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Decisions, decisions...

We all know that empowered customers expect brands to deliver contextually relevant experiences based on their individual preferences for content, timing, location, and channel(s). How do customer insights (CI) professionals decide the appropriate course of action – not just for a single customer, but for all customers? How do they then execute on those decisions and measure the impact? Systems of engagement like Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM) provide answers.

Forrester defines RTIM as: Enterprise marketing technology that delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and utility at the appropriate moment in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints. In my latest brief “Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management,” I explore evolving RTIM requirements.

The five keys to implementing RTIM as part of your contextual marketing engine are:

1.      Customer recognition - Engagement based on individual identity resolution

2.      Contextual understanding – Persona analysis with real-time behavior and external data

3.      Decision arbitration – Next-best-action based on advanced analytics

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If you can't beat 'em...

Yesterday SAP formally launched its hybris Marketing Solution, hailing it as “the industry’s first contextual marketing platform.” Customers will welcome the new functionality, which SAP has highlighted in roadmap presentations during the past year.  Claims of being first-to-market, however, fall short. First to offer an analytics suite for marketers? SAS Institute may disagree. First to leverage marketing analytics with eCommerce? IBM may challenge the claim. First with an enterprise customer data management platform? Teradata has offered data-driven marketing for years. First to integrate marketing with sales and service? Oracle and Salesforce.com may have differing views. Even marketing vendors that SAP lists as launch partners – Adobe and Marketo – would likely disagree with SAP’s first-mover claims, for both B2C and B2B environments.

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Enterprise Marketing Technology Embraces The Mobile Mind Shift

This week Teradata became the latest Enterprise Marketing Software Suite vendor to extend its commitment to mobile, announcing the acquisition of Appoxee, an Israeli-based mobile marketing SaaS provider. Appoxee complements Teradata’s Digital Messaging Center (based on the 2012 acquisition of eCircle) with technology capabilities for messaging personalization, contextual targeting, in-app notifications and mobile analytics.

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Maturity Requires A Perfect Six Pack

Don’t worry: I’m not here to support your New Year’s resolution with work-out advice. But if you want to review the six requirements for planning a mature enterprise marketing strategy, then keep reading.

Real-time, contextually relevant customer experiences require a significant investment in enterprise marketing technologies. However, customer insights (CI) professionals often struggle with defining marketing technology requirements to match business objectives. It’s difficult because you must balance multiple stakeholders, accommodate channel-specific processes, and integrate products from different vendors to align with your firm’s enterprise-wide business technology (BT) agenda.

To support CI pros with requirements planning, Forrester offers a self-service assessment tool to help you determine how your firm stacks up using our enterprise marketing maturity model. We believe that customer-focused enterprise marketing initiatives rely on improved capabilities across six core competencies. The first three – strategy, resources, and processes – focus on organizational readiness. The remaining three – data, analytics and measurement, and technology – underscore the importance of the right tools to enable successful execution. 

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The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

Apologies to those purists who recognize this post’s title as a misquote of Mark Twain. In this case I’m not referring to myself, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or indeed any human being, so I’ve gone with the more popular expression. Instead, I’m talking about campaigns – you know, those marketing tactics declared dead by many, but which brands continue to leverage for cross-channel communications. Back in February, Forrester’s Tracy Stokes used a similar analogy in her excellent post “Digital Marketing is Dead; Long Live Post-Digital Marketing: What It Means for CMOs.”

I’m resurrecting the theme because campaign management is alive and well. That being said, Customer Insights (CI) professionals now approach campaigns much differently than in the past. Smart marketers know they must engage their customers with contextually relevant content that sparks an interaction cycle and provides utility while creating a value exchange.  Orchestrated appropriately, campaign management can be a key enabler for post-digital marketing.

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Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Software Suites

Last week, Cory Munchbach and I published the first-ever Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Software Suites, Q4 2014. Or, as they

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Dreaming of Contextual Marketing

At Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this week, Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle highlighted retailer Eddie Bauer’s strategy to make marketing so good that it feels like customer service and customer service so good that it feels like marketing. He may well have added that when marketing and service are well executed, they both begin to feel like sales – or at least the extension of sales environments that they are meant to support.

This thinking underscores the blurring lines between marketing and customer experience. Where does one end and the other begin? And does it really matter? Certainly to the customer it doesn’t; all he or she wants is a great experience that delivers value appropriate to the current context. So then, why do brands continue to let organizational or functional silos get in the way? It’s easy to say that legacy systems and processes still dictate what brands are able to achieve, but surely with today’s business technology capabilities, it’s possible to do better.

Brands highlighted at Dreamforce not only do better: they blend marketing, services and sales for a seamless customer experience. Take Fitbit, for example. Of course the Fitbit business model is based on interaction and context, but Fitbit has taken things to another level by ensuring that marketing content is fully incorporated into app functionality instead of pushing messages at customers. Up-sell, cross-sell and promotional content appear when contextually relevant and blend smoothly with customer services information and sales/transactional opportunities.

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