Staying faithful in any marriage is (we hope) one of the primary goals. Staying faithful to one marketing technology provider means divorce.
One marketing provider? Doesn't seem to happen today.
Will one vendor ever be the be-all, end-all for companies deploying marketing technology?
"No," said Forrester Research analyst Cory Munchbach. "There's too much innovation happening too quickly for any digital marketer to reduce their technology stack to one platform. They may use one as a hub or a backbone for all the rest of the technology to plug into, but there will always be more than one capability than what a single platform provides."
No All In One?
Jimmy Marketer can't go out and, say, buy Adobe and be done with it? By the way, we just talked to Demandbase CEO Chris Golec about a new product out for release tomorrow, and he told us that big players like Adobe use Demandbase's B2B capabilities in their marketing suite.
So while everyone's integrating with everyone, can't Jimmy Marketer just pick one software mate?
"Probably not," said Josh Manion, CEO of Ensighten, a 150-employee omni-channel data and tag management provider. "In the future, given platform specialization, I could see customers potentially integrating multiple platforms into a platform cluster, each platform covering different marketing needs."
Manion told CMSWire he thinks of a platform as having three main components:
- Core platform services that represent the engine/brain that manages user profiles, data privacy and application access
- A set of marketing applications that read/write from/into the profile data mart and enriching it
- A set of API to plug in third-party data
"Each platform will provide a different set of core services, applications and API capabilities, hence the need to integrate multiple platforms," Manion said.
Further, the democratization of innovation means that any company today can agilely introduce new core capabilities around the digital marketing platform, he said.
"This constant state of disruption likely means," Manion said, "that customers will want and need to look beyond a single vendor's platform."
Who Won't Survive?
Peter Kim, principal analyst for Constellation Research, said the vendors in the greatest jeopardy right now are the startups focused primarily on social media and burning operating cash in an increasingly competitive landscape.
"Startups focused on niche functions like listening, publishing and even paid social media may seem innovative now," Kim said, "but risk disappearing overnight when a marketing cloud adds their core value proposition as a product feature."
Kim, too, does not think an all-in-one vendor exists out there.
"The short answer is 'no,' primarily because be-all, end-all has a lot of finality to it," Kim told CMSWire. "However the marketing technology space is becoming increasingly dominated by a handful of large vendors, namely Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP."
Kim added that standalone solutions might be able to innovate faster than large platforms, but that’s only a temporary advantage that primarily benefits vendors and their investors.
"Brands," he said, "need to integrate everything into their overall operations regardless. For the past seven years or so, social media tools were innovative but now that social media has matured, most client/buy side brands have gotten their organizations in order, which makes the appeal of a vendor/sell side integrated social solution more appealing than buying a menagerie of point solutions."
Navigating the Field
So how do marketers in the market for a software vendor approach the landscape?
Start with the idea of openness, Manion said.
"Since you don’t necessarily know what technologies will be available in the future, and how your technology requirements will evolve over time," Manion said, "future-proof your marketing investments by choosing an open platform that will enable you to easily add innovative, best-of-breed solutions, and to retain your data should you decide to switch between technology vendors."
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