Let’s Put Enterprise Marketing Technology Into Context

Context – noun –  con·text – \ˈkän-ˌtekst\

What is context? According to Merriam-Webster, context is “the situation in which something happens or the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens.” We’ve been using it since late Middle English speakers adapted the Latin contextus, from con (together) and texere (to weave). For marketers, context means understanding attitudes, behaviors, and preferences to address the requirements of individual customers in their moments of need.

It is critical for marketers to embrace customer context. Why? Winning in the age of the customer depends on the interactions that people have with your brand, and compelling customer experiences materialize only when your firm understands its customers and anticipates their needs.  The context of all those interactions determines whether customers will engage and, more importantly, transact with your brand again. Marketing’s job is to harness the power of customer context to create a repeatable cycle of interactions, drive deeper engagement, and learn more about the customer in the process.

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Real-World Feedback on Real-Time Interaction Management

Have you ever felt like this…

Our vendor has some great capabilities that we are not leveraging, but I would place the blame on us.

Well, you’re not alone. That’s actually a direct quote from one of the 74 customer references we surveyed for the Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015. In general, we found that most customers are deploying real-time capabilities across only a few channels today. The most prevalent real-time interaction management (RTIM) use cases? Web personalization and dynamic email content are well ahead of other deployments, in use by 62% and 60% of survey respondents, respectively.  Decision management for contact centers and eCommerce recommendations are next in line, but the former may not be connected to digital channels, and the latter may leverage its own set of tools. Real-time mobile app deployments are surprisingly few – 8th in our list of digital and off-line channels – but by far the highest number of respondents (49%) plan to add mobile capabilities.

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...Where Angels Fear To Tread

We all know the opening part of Pope’s often-quoted adage. Certainly some acquisitions in the enterprise marketing technology arena are now looking like foolish decisions. In yesterday’s 2015 trading update, SDL announced it will sell multiple products that are “non-core to its future strategy,” including social intelligence, campaign management, and its Fredhopper eCommerce recommendation engine. SDL paid $110 million for the first two solutions when it completed its acquisition of Alterian in early 2012. The SDL announcement echoes Teradata’s similar announcement in November to sell its marketing application division. Teradata acquired Aprimo in late 2010 for $525 million, and then added smaller acquisitions of eCircle, Argyle Social, Ozone, Apoxxee, and FLXone – the last pick-up coming less than one month before the sell-off announcement.

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The Enterprise Marketing Technology Landscape - Simplified

We’ve all seen comprehensive diagrams featuring hundreds of vendor logos across multiple marketing technology categories. So, when tasked with mapping the technologies required to deliver contextual marketing, I decided to simplify things. For more details, see my new report “Combine Systems Of Insight And Engagement For Contextual Marketing.”

Forrester has defined broad “systems of X” categories that include systems of record, design, operation/automation, insight, and engagement. The latter two lend themselves to the enterprise marketing technology landscape.

Real-time analytics and insights drive the contextual marketing engine (below), and these tools fit squarely into the systems of insight category. Customer data bases and big data repositories fuel the engine, and as customer behavior refreshes them frequently, they, too, are systems of insight (as opposed to more static systems of record).

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Let’s Get Real – Introducing The Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015

When I published the Market Overview: Real-Time Interaction Management back in May, I highlighted more than 100 vendors that provide real-time interaction management (RTIM) solutions or solution components.  I outlined in that report how enterprise marketing technology vendors address – to varying degrees – all five RTIM requirements: customer recognition, contextual understanding, decision arbitration, offer orchestration, and measurement and optimization. My Brief: Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management provides further details and 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.

I’m now pleased to announce the publication of The Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015, which provides a detailed evaluation of eleven enterprise marketing technology vendors in terms of their RTIM solution capabilities. This 35-criteria evaluation includes a diverse group of vendors that address a broad range of RTIM capabilities: Adobe, Experian, IBM, Infor, Oracle, Pegasystems, Pitney Bowes, Salesforce, SAS Institute, SmartFocus, and Teradata.

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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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