The Who, What, Where, And Why Of Marketing Technology Groups
Posted by Anjali Yakkundi on May 30, 2013
This post originally appeared on destinationCRM.
We’ve heard a lot in the past year about the future role of marketing technologists as solvers of the “IT/marketing clash of the titans” (as one Forrester client put it to me recently). These technologists are more than just your basic webmasters. Instead, they are professionals with deep knowledge of how technology can deliver on marketing strategies in order to bring about better digital customer experiences. At Forrester, we’ve started to see an emerging trend of shared services groups whose goal is to bridge the marketing technology divide. Our latest research found that organizations have turned to this model — which we call the marketing technology group — to foster tighter integration between IT and marketing and between strategy/design professionals and technologists. Defining characteristics include:
Who? These groups tend to be made up of a diverse lot of professionals, but in general are staffed by a combination of marketing strategists, creative design professionals, and technologists with design and business savvy. We found some of the most sought-after technologists were mobile- and data-literate developers and higher-ranking IT leaders, like enterprise architects, who can coordinate an ever-growing number of digital experience technologies (e.g. CRM, Web content management, commerce platforms, analytics, etc.). The key is to give these groups direct tie-in to C-level executives. As a vice president of strategy at a digital agency told us, “The problem with shared services is that too often it’s staffed by only powerless workers.”
What? A digital experience leader at a multinational organization using this model described it as a “digital innovation team.” Others we interviewed described these shared services groups as “internal digital agencies.” Much like an agency, these groups are responsible for providing various business units with a host of services to improve marketing and digital customer experience initiatives. This includes (among other things) strategic support, design and creative services, and technology support.
Where? These groups are still emerging, and most organizations we speak to prefer to play it safe with a central or decentralized IT approach. We’ve seen the most innovation coming from retail and consumer packaged goods organizations, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen it from others as well. We interviewed a few key decision makers from financial services and healthcare organizations who are looking to move to this shared services approach.
Why? This approach has many benefits, including the tight integration between creative professionals and technologists, allowing the gap to close between design and the delivery of that design. Firms also achieve agile processes more easily with marketing and IT professionals working under one umbrella. The downside? This approach can be slow. A vice president of digital marketing at a financial services organization said: “In my shared service model, someone ends up waiting.” Organizations with multiple brands also worry that a shared service approach limits the brand differences and makes each one look too similar; better governance and brand guidelines can mitigate this risk.
So what’s the future of marketing technology groups? We expect that this trend will continue to grow as more organizations see the appeal of the “internal digital agency.” This doesn’t mean it will take over central IT groups; instead, we expect many organizations to use shared services groups to supplement existing IT groups.
Our recent reports dive into roles and organizational structures, as well as data around this emerging group. Do you have a shared marketing technology group or have you begun to move to this model? Tell us about your case studies in the comments area below.
WCM Plays Key Role in Digital Customer Experience
The following was written by David Aponovich, a senior analyst at Forrester Research serving application development and delivery professionals.
Who can forget the call to arms that marketers and other Web professionals were shouting a few years ago, when everyone thought they had this whole online thing solved. “Content is king!” they shouted, and for the most part, it was true. Content— mostly words, really—carried the marketing message. And the medium? That was primarily the good old-fashioned Web site.
Fast forward to today. What matters most is what you do with a multitude of content types across many digital channels, all of which keep expanding faster than marketers, Web developers, and online colleagues can harness and keep pace with.
If you work on the Web in 2013, your mantra is likely to be “Digital customer experience is king!”
Web technology is, fortunately, making success here possible. Enterprise marketing ecosystems are evolving to support creative ways of communicating your brand, company, and message via multichannel online experiences. No more generic marketing messages allowed. Today, interactions with and experiences for customers need to be personal, contextual, and multichannel. This is a big challenge to undertake correctly and efficiently.
Content, of course, has evolved, and today includes video assets, social messages, user-generated content, third-party content, email-based content, and more. As far as digital channels, you’re probably considering Web sites, microsites, landing pages, blogs, social sites, community sites, video channels, in-store kiosks…. Are you out of breath yet?
It’s likely that many different tools and technologies are helping your company make it all come together. But there’s a pivotal technology that’s rapidly maturing to meet much of this mandate: web content management software.
A recent report, “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Digital Experience, Q2 2013.” shows that Web content management (WCM) has taken center stage in digital customer experience. Most of these systems that began in the “content is king” era are now broadly supporting organizations’ digital experience (DX) mandate.
WCM is a perennial priority of IT buyers. It has, however, become increasingly important in the rise of multichannel communication, commerce, and collaboration. In a 2013 Forrester Research survey of 233 digital technology professionals regarding their 24-month technology purchase and adoption plans, 34 percent considered WCM technology a priority for their organizations. This is second only to analytics tools (56 percent) and ahead of third-ranked CRM (30 percent).
The report also describes the strategic shifts by the vendors to address DX, and the current business reality in which buyers are struggling to source and put to strategic use the disparate but related parts of a digital marketing tools ecosystem. Some vendors in WCM have bought many pieces of the digital experience ecosystem and integrated them together; others have relied on an integration strategy with outside partners providing many of the tools and capabilities.
Overall, tools in this ecosystem generally address one of three categories that should be familiar to marketers and Web pros. Forrester refers to these categories—mandates, really—as “manage, engage, and measure.”
These solutions, outlined below, optimally work in concert to ensure a consistent approach to delivering multichannel experiences that can be measured and constantly improved upon to deliver better experiences for customers and results for businesses.
Solutions that enable nontechnical personnel to manage experiences. These solutions consist of tools and repositories that marketers and other nontechnical personnel use to create and manage structured and unstructured content for customer experiences. This includes WCM, digital asset management, product catalog management, workflow, campaign management, marketing resource management, and desktop authoring tools.
Engagement solutions that enable the delivery of interactive multichannel experiences. Vendors often tightly couple WCM and e-commerce solutions with management and delivery capabilities, enabling businesses to create content and deliver experiences in a single package. But other technologies enable experience delivery, including content targeting solutions such as search, personalization, and recommendations engines; tools to enable the development of presentations, such as integrated development environments; ad-serving systems; and identification and authorization management tools.
Measurement solutions that allow businesses to gauge the success of experiences. A/B and multivariate testing enable marketers and business users to test variations of experiences on certain demographics before rolling them out to a broader audience.Web analytics tools track Web site visitor behavior. Social analytics tools track how consumers engage with companies by monitoring social interactions. And dashboards present analytical data from which marketers can draw actionable insights.
WCM solutions address many of these areas as they approach answering the manage, engage, and measure puzzle. They doesn’t address all these issues—nor do we think they should. However, few software solutions in the marketer’s toolbox provide as much core, foundational technology as WCM. Buyers, as with vendors pushing their product development, have discovered the relevance of having flexible, feature-rich platforms that can help bring alive the ideal of managing, engaging and measuring (and optimizing) multichannel digital experiences.
How do the top digital agencies’ mobile marketing services measure up?
Reaching the masses
Forrester Research conducted an evaluation of the top digital agencies with mobile marketing services in the United States and found that SapientNitro, AKQA, Ogilvy, TribalDDB and Razorfish are ahead of the game.
The research company evaluated the agencies based on 37 criteria. The report details Forrester’s findings about how each agency measures up and plots where they stand in relation to each other, to help interactive marketers select the right partner for their mobile marketing efforts.
“Much has been written about the rapid pace of consumer adoption of the mobile Internet,” Forrester says in the report. “In fact, Forrester forecasts that the number of mobile Internet users will grow at an average of 9 percent year over year for the next five years.
“In response to this growth, nearly half of the interactive marketers we surveyed told us they planned to increase their mobile marketing budgets in 201,” the report says.
“To make the most of these budgets, interactive marketers are turning to digital agencies to create comprehensive and strategic mobile marketing programs that move their brands beyond experimentation and engage their mobile consumers effectively.”
Forrester’s evaluation focused heavily on strategy, execution, leadership and financial strength.
According to Forrester, SapientNitro, AKQA, Ogilvy, TribalDDB, and Razorfish lead the pack.
Client references played a big role in Forrester’s evaluation. These agencies were praised for their strategic thinking and execution skills.
SapientNitro was chosen as one of the leading agencies with mobile marketing services because it received the highest client scores.
According to Forrester, AKQA clients are impressed with the methodology the agency employs to develop mobile strategies. Those brands looking to make a big splash in mobile, can count on AKQA.
Additionally, Ogilvy received high scores for its understanding of the future of mobile and how marketers need to move with the industry.
As for TribalDDB, the agency got high marks for its proprietary back-end technology and its ability to integrate mobile into the multichannel mix.
Lastly, Razorfish was recognized for its sound strategic development skills and solid execution, per Forrester.
“I think agencies realize that mobile represents a fundamental shift in the way companies will do business in the future—on a similar scale to how the internet changed the way companies do business,” said Melissa Parish, an analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. “ If they want to be relevant and maintain their trusted partner status, they need to prepare now to meet those needs.
“And since digital agencies are frequently cast in the role of innovator for their clients, this is the next logical place to invest,” she said. “All of the agencies understand that to be successful, a mobile strategy must not be stuck in a silo. It’s got to be part of the comprehensive marketing approach.
“Agencies, large and small, are going to start thinking about mobile in a real, concentrated way. I think that those agencies that already have a foothold in mobile will see more of their revenue being generated from that practice, and more prospects coming to them for that expertise. I also think there are likely to be some talent-grabs for very smart mobile strategists in the near future.”
Posted by Melissa Parrish on June 4, 2012
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As an analyst, I make a lot of predictions about various technology offerings. Over the last year those predictions have increasingly focused on the Social Media Management Platform (SMMP) space, specifically about how I expected consolidation as demand increased from marketers, and big tech players realized the necessity and potential of these platforms. It seemed pretty obvious to me that this space would continue to heat up, especially as I fielded more and more phone calls every week from marketers vetting the players in this space. So in answer to the most common question I’ve been getting since last week: no, I’m not at all surprised that a company like Salesforce would buy Buddy Media.
First of all, brands are maturing in social media and they’re realizing they need something like a true social software stack to manage it all, especially as social media spreads across the enterprise and grows beyond the boundaries of just the marketing department. To truly manage their growing social presences, they need ways to get more employees involved while still enforcing their social media policies — and that means a software stack that offers all of the benefits of an SMMP (robust editorial workflow management, moderation tools, easy page and application creation, influencer identification, content archiving, and analytics) as well as deep social intelligence and CRM capabilities. No single SMMP offers deep listening and non-social CRM today, and no listening platform or non-social CRM offering currently delivers what an SMMP can. Acquisitions were inevitable.
Second, when I talk to marketers about their requirements for these platforms, one of the things that comes up high on everybody’s list is integration with other enterprise systems. The two systems that get mentioned the most? Non-social analytics (usually Adobe/Omniture and Google Analytics) and non-social CRM (usually Salesforce, sometimes Oracle and SAP.) Well, Adobe already jumped into the game when they bought Efficient Frontier who had previously acquired Context Optional. And of course Oracle made their play just a couple of weeks ago with their acquisition of Vitrue. Many of the SMMPs already integrated with Salesforce anyway thanks to client demand, so they were the logical choice for making a high-profile acquisition.
That leaves a couple of big players who are obvious choices to make a move in this space. Google could use an SMMP to monetize social in a way that has nothing immediately to do with search. SAP could jump in for a lot of reasons, perhaps the most important of which is simply to not be the last one to do it.
And how about Facebook? News about advertisers feeling like their Facebook spend wasn’t getting them much was met with cries of, “You’re not doing it right!” Should marketers focus more on engagement rather than traditional display ad metrics on Facebook? Maybe, but that’s a problem for Facebook because they’re not monetizing those engagement presences — the Facebook page. Adding or acquiring SMMP capabilities would give them a way to monetize those presences without going back to charging for them directly.
Of course there are other companies who we could see make acquisitions here too. Maybe tech behemoths like IBM and Microsoft will add SMMPs to their comprehensive enterprise software offerings. Maybe MSPs like Acxiom, and messaging vendors like Responsys will follow Exact Target’s early lead and add these tools their arsenals. But for whoever makes the next acquisition, a bit of advice:
Though there are hundreds of millions of dollars being exchanged in these acquisitions, the actual revenue being earned by SMMP vendors is a drop in the bucket compared to overall revenue in the enterprise technology sector. These acquisitions are not about adding immediate significant revenue. They’re about adding technology offerings.
So far, the two highest-profile acquisitions have focused on the two highest-profile SMMPs: Vitrue and Buddy Media. And while there are just a few independent SMMPs left with decent name recognition (Wildfire, Hearsay Social, HootSuite), there are probably 2 dozen companies out there with growing platforms and revenues. Companies who are looking to acquire these capabilities must be evaluating the robustness and quality of the SMMP vendor’s technology and services rather than the relative size of the company. There may be a smaller vendor among these dozens whose technology is just as solid and whose vision and culture is better aligned with the acquiring company.
So just to be clear: I don’t expect acquisitions to slow down just because Buddy Media has been bought. In fact, I expect the entire space to accelerate — both acquisitions and the adoption of these platforms by companies looking to grow their social presences.Look for more partnerships that bring together enterprise listening platforms with SMMPs. Look for SMMPs to support more and more social networks beyond just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And most importantly, look for both tech companies and brands to continue to take social more and more seriously as it proliferates across the enterprise.