We've spent a lot of time in February talking about how we can build better web experiences with the help of marketing automation. While the technology is all there, how it works together is often questionable, especially when we look at the difference between integrating best of breed technology and investing in a platform that does it all (a suite we use to call it). The big question we put out to our panel, is what is the best technology approach when working with WEM and MA?

The Question 

Can an all-in-one platform solution (i.e. MAP, WEM, etc) win out over the "potential for theoretical greatness" via integrated best of breed solutions?

The Responses

Brennan Carlson -- Lyris

brennan.JPGAs Vice President of Product and Strategy, Brennan Carlson is responsible for product planning, management and strategy at Lyris. He provides cross-functional leadership for the delivery of the company's product vision, with a focus on roadmap planning, requirements definition, user experience and user/acceptance testing and other strategic product initiatives. Carlson also provides expertise in working with prospects and customers, and serves as digital marketing thought leader for Lyris. Before coming to Lyris, Carlson held enterprise marketing, product management and business development positions at several computer software and Internet technology companies, including Yahoo!, Akamai Technologies and Trilogy Software. Carlson holds a Bachelor's degree from Stanford University.

Potential for theoretical greatness is often not the leading motivation to seek integrated best of breed solutions. While the functional capabilities of point solutions enter the mix, constraints of the business and technical environment, rather than the opportunities perceived, set the stage for technology decisions.

Enterprise marketing technology projects are rarely ever “green field.” Legacy systems and workflows that support daily operations provide the foundation for new technology investments. Ask anyone who has been through it and you’ll find that “rip and replace” rarely works as planned.

Where all-in-one platforms shine is within enterprises that lack core competency in implementing and managing technology solutions or in the lower half of the market, where functional coverage provides significantly greater return than the investment in point solutions.

All-in-one platforms have the opportunity to win out by continuing to invest in modularity and flexibility of the platform to become the best of both worlds: integrated, yet flexible. Highly integrated solutions will always carry the challenge of making systems work with each other rather than making systems work for the business.

Jon Miller --  Marketo 

Jon Miller Headshot.jpg Jon leads strategy and execution for all aspects of Marketo's thought leadership and content marketing programs. Before co-founding Marketo, Jon was Vice President of Product Marketing at Epiphany. He is the author of the comprehensive handbook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies with under US$ 250 million in revenue.

The best thing about marketing automation software is that it’s both an all-in-one platform and a “best of breed” amalgamation. Any time individual pieces of software can’t integrate with each other to produce powerful analytics, they should be disqualified from being considered “best of” anything other than “best of creating bad databases.”

Marketing automation software is much greater than the sum of its parts. Let me give you an example. Imagine you are using an email marketing vendor to reach your leads and customers: the only targeting available to you is based on broad demographics, and after you send out an email, at best you can see open and click rates. Those metrics exist in a silo, and more importantly, they don’t matter to other executives. There’s no way to track if the open rate translated to revenue. An email marketing vendor and clever subject line can get you a high open rate, but you won’t have a clue if it helped grow your business. With marketing automation software, you know what events led up to that person receiving the email, what they did with the email and if they were ready to be passed to sales or if they needed more nurturing. You’ll know exactly how your marketing campaigns are helping to grow your business. And you’ll be able to show your CEO the metrics that matter -- not open rates, or click throughs, but revenue.