Marketing execution isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. Today, it’s far more technical and quantifiable than ever before. Marketers are expected to own all things digital within companies, taking charge of the “customer experience” or the “customer journey”. The CMO and marketing team are even the primary owners of the big data function with a remit to look for insights into the market and customer expectations.
Perhaps the bigger change has taken place in consumers. Their relationships with brands, organizations and the digital ‘touchpoints’ they interact with have been the biggest spurs to change in marketing.
Yet somewhere in amongst all this change, the technology and tools we rely on have stayed still. A decade ago, marketing departments were supported by big proprietary enterprise scale vendors like IBM and Oracle. These platforms could do it all, and there was actually some f truth behind their claims.
Today, not a lot has changed — except for some of the names. From Hubspot to Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, and Adobe, we still have a few well-known vendors that offer all-encompassing proprietary marketing cloud solutions. These vendors still claim to do it all, but each one has its own blend of acquired marketing applications that vary based on what the vendor has deemed most important or closest to its core value.
However, while an integrated bundle of basic marketing tools might seem like a cost-effective, time-saving solution, the reality is completely different. Proprietary vendors may continue to claim to do it all, but at what cost to you?
All-In-One Is Not What It’s Cracked Up To Be
The truth is that the typical “integrated” suite of marketing technologies is just that. The toolset has not been built and developed by the vendor but acquired as they scoop up small point-solution specialty companies and cobble them together into a Franken-stack with the illusion or promise of seamless integration.
Even so, adopting an all-in-one “marketing cloud” is almost like a religious conversion. Everything that you had before must be discarded — even specific applications you currently use and perhaps depend on. The new platform fences you off within a defined set of marketing tools even though the vendor’s suite of tools is not itself entirely integrated into its own back end.
And if you want to keep using the marketing tools you’ve already invested in, there is going to be one of two scenarios. Either, the technology you’d like to use might be on the vendor’s roadmap of future integrations or connectors, but it won’t be ready for months, or even years, or, you can integrate the technology you’d like now, but it will require expensive custom code developed in-house by your corporate developers or outsourced integrators — and will likely consume much more time than you can afford as developers wrestle with proprietary APIs.
This all begs the question: would you rather invest in a proprietary technology platform, in which you are at the mercy of the vendor’s roadmap and integration calendar? Or would you rather invest in an open, cloud-based technology platform that liberates you from vendor lock-in and enables you to use the technology best suited your business needs and the needs of your customers?
Putting The Debate To Bed
It should be a no-brainer.
In the digital world, standing still is the fastest way to go out of business. The pace of change is only accelerating, and I think it’s about time we settle this debate once and for all. You know your business best, and your customer won’t wait around while a vendor you depend on reacts or not.
The world we live in now is a world where API-first solutions should reign supreme. Instead of rip-and-replace, we need to be free to be flexible. Instead of being held hostage by a single vendor’s roadmap, we need open platforms that enable you to integrate deftly with the legacy customer data systems and the best-of-breed Martech solutions you need to succeed.
I believe the final piece of the puzzle is to bring together all of that openness and flexibility into a digital experience platform that is built on a “digital factory” model that allows you to build and orchestrate customer journeys on your terms. McKinsey described this model as “a blueprint for the future of work that energizes the business and excites employees”. McKinsey also highlighted the sheer gulf in speed and flexibility such an approach brings:
“The best digital factories can put a new product or customer experience into production in as little as ten weeks. The innovation can then be introduced and scaled up across the business in eight to 12 months.”
Try doing that with a proprietary marketing cloud.