Technology For Marketing
Technology for Marketing (TFM) is no DMExco in scale or breadth of coverage from a media technology landscape. Where DM is oriented towards the new media world with organisations such as Facebook and Google in attendance, impressive auditoriums with presentations from digital prophet and vertically challenged Australian Shingy, TFM positions itself in the more traditional world of performance and customer journeys, far more conservative as you would expect from the Brits.
This year though, even this event was not immune to some ‘razzamatazz’ and glitz, with Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning making an appearance on more than one occasion.
Digital and Analytics representation was extremely small, with Visual IQ being the only noticeable player in the dedicated area which could not have amounted to more than 5 vendors, a pretty poor showing considering the 100’s of vendors at the show. The presence of Oracle and Salesforce who both have been on significant acquisitions and integration sprees recently goes some way of explaining less unique ‘data and analytics’ vendors being present. There is a general trend of integration / simplification and was demonstrated in all of the marketing automation systems on show.
This does raise a question mark over the true differentiation and value now on offer in the traditional space of analytical engines Vs the simplification argument that integration brings.
This need for simplification was highlighted during the ‘Marketing cloud All Stars ‘panel with representation from IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe and bringing up the rear, Marketo. During the debate they stated the obvious, no matter how good the tech, adoption and inter-company cooperation is essential. Cooperation to ensure customer journeys and content create beautiful customer experiences, a key strength for Adobe with their heritage in the creative and content past coupled with the hygiene factor of right message right time still as true today as it was 20 years ago.
This can only be accomplished if all elements of a business are coordinated, be this store experience or delivery of products and services. Throughout the conference the proliferation of payment providers (WorldPay) logistics and packaging (NeoPost) along with customer contact (ZenDesk) highlights this point.
Along with integration throughout the business verticals we also require co-operation and confidence in data sharing and enrichment, which still to this day is a challenge inside organizations. It was this that Oracle played upon, their roots steeped in a technology past, they position themselves as a marketing platform that technology teams can trust. However, in a world where; consumers are becoming less and less willing to share data without a clear value exchange; where data regulations are becoming more restrictive in both what and how data can be used - where it is ‘traceable’ back to an individual, how can marketers continue to improve and evolve the right message right time conundrum?
IBM seems to think that applying their chess playing, cancer curing jack of all trades Watson to this challenge is the answer, using their predictive analytical learning engines which are not constrained by the limitations of human programming, the others (excluding Salesforce Einstein) suffer.
There were also a couple of AI use cases that stood out , with Phrasee showing off a neat little tool for refining email headers and content, curation with impressive ROI uplifts – in an age where the volume and variety of content is increasing, any advantage in this space is a welcome one. And Wizu demonstrating a neat little engine to capture that all important NPS or CSAT score in an automated, interactive fashion.
So while the marketing automation platforms continue to evolve, AI will continue to be the new shiny thing, as Big Data is’ so 2014’, there is one very obvious caveat to it all, a caveat that has been around since the days of Lotus 123 mailing lists, which is - regardless of the technology, if the basics are not in place, if data is not robust and the organisation aligned even this innovation will not have a sound business case.