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The “on demand marketing suite” is becoming a reality October 17, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Marketing, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing.
Tags: , , , ,
10 comments

For the last year and a half at Forrester, I was incubating the idea of the “online marketing suite.” Yes, I did author the Forrester Big Idea, “The Marketing Technology Backbone” in 2004 and I’m not dismissing the idea now — I still believe in the vision. I just don’t believe that most marketing organizations are ready to swallow it. There are too many barriers including the (to name a few):

  • Structure of the organization and all of the competing fiefdoms.
  • Mutual disdain that marketing and IT professionals often hold for one another.
  • Priority of short term results over long term investment for growth.

Furthermore, the enterprise marketing technology leaders in the market today only offer installed solutions that require a lot of technical manpower to implement and manage over time. These applications – like any other installed software – are hard to update so marketers, who always want the next new thing yesterday, have no choice but to cobble something together in order to get their job done. The cobbling results in more disconnected silos (data, process, etc.) which make it harder to execute seamlessly and measure effectiveness. An unfortunate cycle that marketers have a tough time getting out of…

Enter the “on demand marketing suite”   

So what does marketing need? Over a year ago, here’s what I wrote in Forrester’s Marketing Blog:

Marketers are always looking for the next thing that will help them differentiate the way they approach their audience. In my opinion, the vendor that figures out how to provide a framework that integrates the marketing process while enabling marketers to “plug in” new features, functions, and extensions will ultimately win the marketing technology race. What does this vendor need to “own”? The customer data layer, a consistent way to define and roll up marketing activities, campaigns, and programs, the marketing plan, the marketing calendar, marketing measurement, and so forth. All of the design and execution tools that leverage the customer data can fall within “the network.”

To date, Omniture has been the most successful (just look at the nearly $2B market cap – not bad for a company that has yet to turn a profit) at pushing the vision. But, while Omniture has made some recent acquisitions – namely Touch Clarity and Offermatica – which provide it some marketing execution capabilities, the company still has a long way to go before it can claim to be a marketing suite (which, by my definition, needs to support the marketing lifecycle from planning and design through execution and measurement).

It’s easy to argue that Responsys has more right to stake a claim on the suite… Away from the spotlight of the public market, Responsys has been aggressively bringing in senior talent, expanding its platform, and getting deeply involved in customer success. Then there’s Unica, which has as much (if not more) of a right to stake its claim on this space than anyone else. But, Unica has yet to really aggressively go after the on-demand “marketing suite” and seems to have spent much of the 18 months since its acquisition of Sane Solutions simply competing for Web Analytics deals. My opinion? This is THE key issue that Unica (which is pretty close Omniture in total revenue but only has a market cap of $233M) needs to address in order to get Wall Street drooling as it is doing for Omniture.

The battle is heating up

Just yesterday Eloqua announced that it had closed a $23M Series C round of venture funding (see the press release). Eloqua, which has largely focused on the high-tech sector to date, arguably has the broadest (not necessarily deep) set of suite functionality encompassing light data management, web analytics, chat, email, print, process-driven campaigns, and so on. From the press release, Eloqua is clearly renouncing its roots as a mid-market player to go after the enterprise.

Today Eloqua has more than 25 clients with more than $1 billion in revenue each – clients who need us to support them around the world with our industry-leading technology.

Eloqua will likely use this money to aggressively move into new vertical markets as well as to expand geographically. Hopefully the company will also invest in beefing up its engineering team as well. So, the marketing technology sector is heating up! But, my word of advice to players that want to be on the battlefront is to focus on two key areas:

  • On demand
  • Interactive (digital) marketing

That is where the heat will be for the next five years. During this time, I hope we’ll learn something that will help us get on track towards the ultimate vision of “The Marketing Technology Backbone.”