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,, 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, 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. 

The "Customer Experience" Job Role

A few years ago, IDC opened up a new research area within our “role-based” research area. We sought to understand, and define, and then Advise on an emerging role that we were seeing pop-up within the IT vendor community: The Customer Experience executive.

It was a difficult area to research, as we were not able to get a consistent “fix” on the job description. In some organizations, the Customer Experience executive was the head of product quality. In other organizations, the newly-appointed Customer Experience executive was just a re-titling of the head of customer service. And, there were other, “loose” job descriptions across many vendor organizations.

It has taken some time, but today the Customer Experience role (and mission) is becoming clear. This executive (and team) is charged with serving-up a unified and integrated buying experience for smart shoppers. The experience needs to fully encompass the “omni-channel” environment. The experience needs to *anticipate* the channel traversing that is the reality of the consumer’s movements.

Customer Experience “Worst Practices”, might include these scenarios:

  • The customer is offered a price promotion for an item that is advertised on the web; but the same offer is not acknowledged in the physical retail channel.
  • The customer purchases on-line, but is un-able to return or exchange the item off-line.
  • The customer makes a purchase from a franchised retail channel and then wants to exchange the item at a “corporate” location, but the corporate store (Verizon in this case! This week ! When I was buying a new smart phone!) won’t accept the exchange, and sends the customer back to the franchise.
  • The customer is practicing “Show-rooming” offline, but receives multiple and confusing offers for the exact same product, on-line.

The list could go on. Excellence in customer experience should be defined as offering the customer consistency, rationality, and *anticipatory* interaction capability, regardless of channel.

One ISV that is rising to the task to help this very complex Customer Experience job role, is SAP. Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to SAP CMO Jonathan Becher outline this major, “open” white-space which might be paraphrased as the “Omni-Channel Customer Experience”. SAP (with its hybris acquisition) is doing a nice job of articulating the challenges and opportunities. Actually “fixing” the experience is going to be a challenging combination of executive and team talent; heavy process improvement; plus the help of some very capable tools provider such as SAP.