digital marketing, Part II: Buy or Build a Marketing Cloud? What Practitioners Say

Scott Brinker's marketing technology landscape graphic is the face of the space. It captured plenty of air time at Brinker's first Marketing Technology Conference in Boston this week.

Isaac Wyatt built his very own marketing technology landscape at New Relic, a San Francisco-based real-time application monitoring platform. It includes the approximate 30 technologies he uses to get his job done.

Sums it up, right? More than 1,000 digital marketing platforms in more than 40 categories. At the heart of it all is the "buy vs. build your marketing cloud" debate, sparked this week at #MarTech by presenter Travis Wright, chief growth officer for MediaThinkLabs.

Yesterday, we caught up with vendors on buy vs. build. Today, we conclude our series with marketing veterans who have had to face the question themselves.

'Value in Either Route'

Meet Isaac Wyatt (again).  This week, he was the Switzerland of the "buy vs. build" debate.

digital marketing, Part II: Buy or Build a Marketing Cloud? What Practitioners Say

"There's value in going either route," Wyatt told CMSWire. "When buying your vertical cloud stack with one vendor like an Adobe you unlock some efficiency when all the different technologies play well together, and I’m sure that there’s some pricing capability that you get that you don’t get when you build your own cloud."

But is that a trap? Are you being locked in by one vendor and handcuffed from innovation and integration with other platforms?

Wyatt said it certainly can be harder to move on from certain features in that scenario. Take analytics, for example.

"If they’re collecting all your data and you want to move on to a different analytics tool that may not be possible because they have all of your historical data," Wyatt said. "This is the common case for example when you transition from something like Adobe Site Catalyst to migrate onto something like Google Analytics. You want to keep your historical data."

(Editor's note: Adobe had its say on integration in Part I of this series yesterday).

Going a la Carte

Building your own cloud? It allows you the flexibility to "pick and choose your technologies a la carte." That way, Wyatt said, you get the best of what your company needs for solving its particular issue.

The challenge, though, becomes the overhead involved with administrating a variety of different tools, Wyatt added, and it's no guarantee those technologies "play well together."

"And you don’t often get good vendor discounts," Wyatt said.  

Smaller companies that try to remain nimble and have a lot of agility? Building your own cloud is "definitely the way to go," Wyatt said, adding, "whereas someone looking for stability and maybe enterprise-level featured support would definitely buy your cloud."

Leaning Toward Building

Meet Melinda Byerley, CEO and co-founder of San Francisco-based, which connects technology buyers with their peers during buying journeys.

digital marketing, Part II: Buy or Build a Marketing Cloud? What Practitioners Say

She has 15 years as a marketer and general manager in technology companies ranging from large public companies like eBay to tiny tech startups. She's purchased and used marketing technology in pretty much every way possible.

Buy vs. build?

"My conclusion: it depends," Byerley told CMSWire. "But I lean toward creating my own cloud. I see the appeal, and some of the value, of all-in-one cloud systems. The reality is far different from the promise, as we've seen in everything from the Affordable Care Act debacle to the fact that 50 percent of large IT installations fail. Marketing technologists realize we don't have to repeat the mistakes of the ERP past."

At the core of the debate may be data integration, Byerley said. On the integration journey in the "build" approach, digital marketers at least get the benefit of the best-in-breed solutions.  

More Flexibility

"In most cases, I am keeping my own data," Byerley said. "I am not locked into a multiyear contract with built-in switching costs that do not require my vendor to be world-class. I have the flexibility to switch vendors. I am not required to sign non-disparagement clauses that prevent me from sharing my experiences with other marketing technologists around the world."

Think about your personality. Do you embrace change and new technology? Then you may want to build your own cloud.