Marketing as a Service (MaaS): The next wave of disruption for marketing tech

Marketing technology has seen a remarkable innovation boom over the past 10 years — so much so that the market now boasts over a thousand vendors that IDC organizes into more than 75 categories. IDC believes this structure is unsustainable and over the next three years the forces of consolidation will exert fundamental changes in the way large enterprises provision marketing infrastructure and from whom they provision it. The marketing technology market, like much of the IT industry, will move to a cloud based service model which IDC calls the “third platform.” As the illustration shows, more than 90% of the growth in the IT industry will come from this model.
For marketers, the third platform means the advent of Marketing as a Service (MaaS), which will have transformative affects for IT, IT services, and creative agencies. Key indicators that MaaS is on it way include:
  • Unsustainable complexity: Point solutions have come to market independently leaving it up to marketers to assemble them into rational infrastructures. This is a highly inefficient market model for buyers and sellers.
  • Transition to platforms: The consolidation of point solutions into platforms has already begun. Many noteworthy acquisitions have been made by major vendors such as Adobe, IBM, Oracle, salesforce.com, and SAP. However, this phase of market development will not last long as markets move rapidly from platforms to “… as a Service” models.
  • Digital and creative coming together:AdAge recently named IBM the number one global digital agency in the world. IBM is rapidly hiring from the agency world to build out its creative services. Adobe has deep and long standing technology partnerships with many top agencies. The agency world needs a value proposition that will allow them restore margins and regain strategic relevance.

MaaS includes the fundamental technology, IT services, and creative services that marketing needs in a bundled offering. Bringing these services together delivers significant value to CMOs who have two key sources of pain: On one hand, their agencies cannot effectively execute omnichannel campaigns nor deliver real time attribution reporting. On the other hand, technology has added a great deal of cost and complexity to their operating environments. MaaS enables them to outsource much of the technological complexity, pay for it out of their advertising budgets and get better integrated marketing services from their top agencies. For tech vendors it means gaining access to the advertising budget which dwarfs marketing IT spend by orders of magnitude. As a result, IDC expects this model to be a major route to market for marketing technology in the enterprise segment. It is therefore an urgent action item for tech vendors, system integrators, and agencies — partner now or lose a major channel. 

For more information on this important trend please contact me at gmurray(at)idc(dot)com.


Next Gen Marketing Teams: From Silos to Systems

Automation has revolutionized marketing. It has brought new insights, capabilities, and methods of engagement. It has demanded new skills, thrust us into the omni-channel universe, and opened new levels of visibility and accountability. But these are all ripples in the pond, so to speak, only the most immediate after effects of a rather large splash down. The most profound change is just beginning to be felt. Automation has introduced the notion of an enterprise customer creation process, a horizontal function that cuts across all marketing activities. Effectively implementing and managing this process requires next generation marketing teams to be much more integrated and coordinated. 
Despite its mystique as a freewheeling, creative and dynamic function, corporate marketing is in reality a deeply fragmented hierarchical organization. Specialists typically function in separate domains moving from project to project with great urgency, rarely having time to consider the big picture. The need to be highly responsive to changes in direction has created a culture adverse to structured workflows. However, as marketing automation solutions consolidate into an enterprise system, a diverse set of marketing roles, process definitions, and data structures are brought together. In response, marketers are beginning to redesign their organizations around workflows instead of activities. Rather than having social, web, advertising, content, partner, analytics, systems admin, etc. in separate organizational buckets, these roles are being reformed into cross functional teams responsible for executing entire campaigns. 
Marketing solutions are starting to be designed around a multi-disciplinary community model. Adobe’s marketing cloud offers a collective view of the campaign workflow for each member of the team and unique workspaces for the various roles in content production, campaign management, analytics, etc. Each member can see what contributions have been made and why. They can communicate in real time on key issues and how they affect the overall process. IDC expects this trend to become pervasive. Providers such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and others are driving their solutions around a vision of the “customer facing ERP” which integrates all customer facing functions in what will most likely be a hybrid cloud for managing customer experience. The implications for organizational design will be significant and CMOs should start instilling the culture of workflow based communities as soon as possible. 

Data, Marketing, and Supply-chains: Insight from the IBM Smarter Commerce Conference

Envisioning your role within a larger context opens up possibilities. “Marketing” is mostly an internal work categorization. So, why limit your vision to marketing’s traditional box? The IBM Smarter Commerce conference is unique. It isn’t really a marketing conference. Instead, marketing is placed within the context of the overall commercial supply chain – a view I support.

Customers do not readily distinguish interactions from specific company departments.  IBM says that 74% of customers regard the post-purchase experience (such as retail fulfillment, or the cost of service in technology purchases) as critical in vendor selection. What possibilities open up when marketers with this broader supply-chain vision – and access to supply-chain data – start applying these tools to modern marketing? Here are a few insights I picked up from the early experts at the IBM Smarter Commerce conference.

  • Marketing works better when delivered as a service. “Marketing should be so helpful that customers would be willing to pay for it,” said Jay Baer, event MC and author of the new book, Youtility. Baer says that your competition for attention isn’t just businesses like you but everyone! Only if you are useful will the customer keep you close. Among the interesting case studies of marketing-as-a-service highlighted at the event was insurance company USAA. USAA provides customers with an “auto circle experience“.  Although they do not sell autos, USAA offer buyers free services at each step of the car-buying process: research on cars, auto evaluation tools, and various purchasing services.  Once USAA builds trust, then they offer their for-profit insurance services. USAA’s extensive database of car ownership and usage stats directs them when to promote these services thus stimulating purchases. My take-away: Think beyond your own product and even outside of your own company. Offer services that customers will view as unexpected but delightful and highly useful.

  • Personalization must actually benefit the customer. People do want personalization and will go to some effort to get it. But people like personalization only if it benefits them. If it only benefits you or if it has unintended consequences, personalization will backfire. Big, powerful, data engines can do really horrible things to people if you aren’t careful. A major retailer explained to me how data elements have differing degrees of confidence. You will know some things for sure (maybe a person’s age), but many more things are merely estimates. This retailer used to send hyper-personalized emails (13 million variations!) But this resulted in frantic calls such as, “Did my identity get stolen? You know everything about me, but I didn’t buy this!” The combination of highly accurate data mixed with the semi-accurate can spook people. Now this retailer sends only 10 versions of their campaign.

  • Every interaction is a link within the context of a communication supply-chain. Don’t look at each discrete message, or even each campaign, as a unique event with a direct link to the end result. Marketing is not a candy machine. Instead, view each as a link in a chain of events each of which leads to other actions.  The most important data attribution task is to discover that chain– what activity in which order and through which messaging channel tends to lead to another event. For example, social media tends to drive to search rather than directly to your website.  Mobile scanning tends to drive buyers to a physical store or to a desktop purchase. 

Managing your marketing as an element in a supply-chain will not be easy. Some of the challenges include delivering on true omnichannel capability, inconsistent fulfillment of content, inconsistent service delivery, and gaining visibility across the customer interactions.  However, this vision brings you closer to the customer’s point-of-view and thus opens up more possibilities for competitive differentiation and revenue success.