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SDL Abandons "All-In-One" Customer Experience Cloud Strategy

UK customer experience company SDL, in a preliminary filing of its 2015 financial results, attributed recent losses to bad strategy; trying to sell an integrated cloud to marketers who preferred to pick and choose their own solutions rather than an “all-in-one” suite.

In the Executive Chairman’s review of the results, the company stated: “Whilst considerable progress has been made we have been disappointed in the overall results. This was due to SDL's focus of investing in and selling consolidated integrated platforms whereas the market continues to favour the purchase of specialist point solutions. As a result, our CXM strategy has failed to gain traction, resulting in a significant decline in new technology bookings in our CXM business, with a commensurate increase in losses from these products.”

I’ve seen first hand, in my meetings with both prospects and current customers, that very few brands are inclined to buy into an all-in-one marketing cloud solution. The digital marketers I’ve talked to prefer to choose a self-assembled, self-integrated approach to their suite of marketing and customer experience technologies. The reality is that they still need to be able to integrate new marketing tools and connect to their their organization’s legacy systems, custom corporate applications and customer databases to be successful.

This is one reason why open source solutions like Drupal are seeing increased adoption, especially at the enterprise level. Drupal’s API-first, modular approach allows for connections to be made between many different applications. The most popular technologies -- Salesforce, Marketo, Google Analytics, etc. -- already have modules built and available. But we also need to think beyond marketing; an API-first solution allows the freedom to adopt new and emerging technology and connect with customers anywhere very often without a browser-based experience.

Another advantage is these modules are not the sole responsibility of the brand’s own corporate developers but are built, managed and maintained by agencies and individuals in the Drupal community. This takes the pressure off of scarce and expensive internal resources to custom code each integration, patch or band-aid. While you still can technically integrate your choice of technology with proprietary suites like Adobe Marketing Cloud for example, you will be locked into their roadmap and sense of urgency. This can be costly, both in terms of budget -- paying them or a partner to build your connectors-- or time and lost opportunities-- if you wait for the vendor to deliver the integrations or pay to do them yourself.

Brands demand the ability to choose the best-of-breed technology for their business needs. They don’t need to be locked into a single vendor to do it for them via an all-in-one marketing cloud. They need the flexibility to connect a disparate set of tools and tech as they see fit and they are looking for solutions like Drupal that allow them to integrate without added burdens. As for SDL, they’re focusing back on their strengths in language technologies and appear to be stepping back from the all-things-to-all-people model of the marketing cloud.

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