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by Tom Wentworth
I recently came across a fantastic article from Martin Kihn, a research director at Gartner, titled "Digital Marketing Consolidation Is Not Inevitable." The article did a great job of stating the case against the marketing cloud. I wrote a similar post last year about the Adobe Marketing Cloud. In his article, Martin makes three excellent points about the challenges of marketing suites and clouds:
Change isn't Changing
The speed of change in digital marketing alters math. It is not a stable system, and it has seemingly unlimited access to capital. The end state is nowhere in view. Products shadow the rate of change of underlying components, such as processing and connectivity, which improve at a rate that is not linear. This is a market that literally moves at the speed of light; an industry may never have changed so much, so fast.
Every year, Scott Brinker releases his Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, containing over 947 different companies that provide software for marketers, organized into 43 categories across 6 major classes. Somewhere in here are the next great marketing technologies. Marketing Cloud vendors can't keep up with the pace of change in digital marketing.
Big Companies Can't Innovate Enough
As marketers' and advertisers' requirements expand, they can only be met with innovation. There is less wiggle room each year, as spending – whether on campaigns or less structured efforts like social and content marketing – gets easier to link to business goals.
We've seen this movie before. Big companies like Oracle acquire innovative companies like Eloqua, and over time the innovation goes away in favor of integration. Remember the Oracle's eBusiness Suite? It was created via the acquisitions of companies like Siebel and Peoplesoft, and was going to do create a end-to-end business platform for the CIO to manage HR, Finance, Sales, and Support. Instead, pure-play category killers like Workday, NetSuite, and Success Factors took marketshare from Oracle who simply couldn't innovate fast enough.
Lock-In Only Benefits The Warden
... I think we should wonder whether a marketers' most important decision right now should be which of the three or four digital hub mega-vendors to bet on for the long haul. That smells like mainframe spirit... Maybe a better option is to pick a set of solutions that are best in show, and insist on controlling your data.
The Marketing Cloud is just another attempt by technology vendors to grow revenue by locking enterprises into a single platform, and holding the customer hostage by limiting access to their data. As I wrote in my last post: "like the Hotel California, you can check-out any time you like... but you can never leave."