All I Want for Marketing Technology in 2015 | DMA

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All I Want for Marketing Technology in 2015

I wanted to pen “5 things to look out for in marketing technology in 2015”, but this excellent article got there first. Scott’s covered my five and added three others for good measure! I’ve decided to take a different approach; no predictions (or “strongly held beliefs” as he calls them), more a set of wishes for marketing technology in 2015:

1. Data gathering, management and syndication systems will get the attention they deserve.

Quality data about people’s interactions, behaviour and interests is the foundation for delivering great customer engagement. Yet there are many customer touchpoints - the average UK consumer uses 7.4 communication channels (source: KANA Infographic - and each touchpoint can create and capture data in silo. That’s why technology will need to make it easier for marketers to connect to useful data repositories, ideally in real-time.

To get buy-in from the business, data needs to be made available and syndicated across departments. Big marketing platforms are already changing their language in this regard. A few years ago, Adobe acquired data management platform Demdex to access rich cookie pools. Then it bought Omniture to add digital behavioural data, and now talks about its Master Marketing Profile. It’s great to see businesses recognising data as the glue that joins up marketing technology; knowledge that we’ve already used to underpin the solutions we deploy for our clients. Hopefully this will continue.

2. Accessible analytics technology will become core to customer engagement.

If data is the foundation of customer engagement, analytics and customer insight are the pillars that support the structure. Analytics has traditionally been the domain of highly qualified statisticians, nowadays carrying cool job titles like “data scientist”, who can help businesses to understand their customers, predicting behaviour and trends.

However, these people are a rare breed, so there’s a growing demand for insight to be democratised through technology. This demand is no doubt helping to drive the predicted near 14% growth by 2018 in marketing data and analytics technology (source: IDC). The segment is already worth nearly $7bn globally!

The likes of IBM, SAS and Adobe have begun to address this issue and I hope it moves closer to reality in 2015. For example, IBM has launched SPSS Modeller Advantage Marketing Edition, bringing the power of SPSS predictive models directly into campaign workflows.

IBM is also promoting Watson Analytics capability for marketing. Imagine it answering a natural language question like “Identify my most profitable customers and say what they have in common”. It’s still some way off, but this capability would help marketers be more agile, and data scientists spend more time answering the really difficult questions!

3. Contextual, cross-channel, real-time personalisation will get easier.

Creating consistent experiences requires cross-departmental working, optimised content and a host of other people- and process-related enablers. That remains the biggest barrier to success.

With regard to technology, a decent number of marketing automation tools already have real-time decisioning capabilities, so if we can follow the process below, we’ll be closer to the Holy Grail:

a. Get real-time data from touchpoints
b. Couple that with data from the longer-term memory of the customer stored in open data systems
c. Analytically determine actions to take in response to interactions
d. Integrate that decision with optimised, relevant content
e. Connect to the interaction point and serve the decision.

Voila: we’ll be able to serve a contextually appropriate personalised interaction, delivered in real-time. It’s already possible, but expensive. In 2015, I hope to see more organisations investing in change that enables real value to be driven from marketing technology.

4. Integration and openness will become the standard, rather than the differentiator.

I don’t believe in a single “marketing technology cloud”. Big marketing platform vendors have a compelling proposition, and their ongoing technology integration is admirable. But many clients will be reticent to sacrifice specialist capabilities available in point solutions for more generalised functionality. I think big platform vendors recognise this, as evidenced by the development of their own application interfaces to enable integration with broader technology vendors.

I would like this trend to gather pace in 2015. As we continue our strategy of building bespoke marketing platforms for customers that combine technology from several vendors, it will make life easier for us and our clients.

5. Industry standards will start to appear.

Scott Brinker states marketing technology will continue to grow in complexity: more vendors, more point solution products arising in response to new technological developments and greater investment. The risk is that the buying process will become murkier for clients.

There’s a real need to make sense of the chaos. Perhaps in 2015 we need to kick off an industry-wide discussion, led by the likes of the DMA (UK), resulting in a standardised marketing technology classification system that’s easy to understand. At the moment, technologies overlap and are marketed in many different ways. With a concerted effort, we can make it easier for customers to compare apples with apples resulting in more informed choices. I hope this isn’t just a pipe dream.

By Gary Arnold, head of marketing technology, Occam – a St Ives Group company

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