And the big news just keeps coming … news about technology companies, from Google and Facebook to Salesforce.com and Adobe, and now Oracle, all gobbling up execution capabilities and developing new technologies, in an effort to be able to offer a complete stack for marketers (whatever "complete" may mean on any given day). The truth is, it's never finished; and what's good for one brand's needs may not scratch the surface for the next brand.
The reality of addressability at scale has turned our idea of cutting-edge technology on its ear. Today's digital audience platforms enable us to identify and communicate directly with individual consumers who are "always on," at a scale never before fathomable. And because these platforms are proliferating at a blinding rate, the technology requirements for executing customer-centric strategies are constantly changing. The new breed of marketer – the Platform Marketer – must develop a new set of capabilities, tools, metrics, and processes – along with the new skillsets required to utilize them effectively.
To create competitive advantage out of the opportunity afforded by addressability at scale, the first order of business for platform marketers is to rationalize the technology stack. Even the most advanced marketers are desperate to understand and procure the capabilities they need in order to accomplish their customer-centric business objectives, and what it means within their own unique organizations to integrate those capabilities for seamless execution. The functions they must bring together and assimilate into their business encompass these six dimensions:
Identity management, data onboarding, and tagging. The key to unlocking your online and offline data is to identify consumers, where possible, and to understand the uniqueness of anonymous individuals. It's also about constructing the event stream; in other words, understanding the longitudinal experience the individual consumer has with the brand.
Marketing database. The marketing database is still the foundational data-management component of the marketing technology stack. This database manages the "gold copy" of the consumer, prospect, and associated event records and houses the "consolidated consumer view."
Analytics. The analytics platform transforms data into actionable insights to inform relevant marketing executions and enable measurement and forecasting strategies. It is used to build a better understanding of the individual consumer and how to efficiently spend marketing dollars to drive a more personalized experience.
Data Management Platform. The DMP enables the creation and management of audiences for marketing and syndication to first- and third-party audience platforms. It allows for anonymous and known consumer data from various data sources, including the analytics platform, marketing database, and execution platforms, for the purpose of creating and managing useful audiences. The DMP should be the centralized data platform for all interactive channels and media.
Decision management. Decision management is focused on operationalizing data and insights in the execution of marketing activities. It enables the real-time optimization and personalization of marketing messages across channels and media.
Execution currencies. The "execution currencies" represent the level of granularity and the actual data transfer between the marketer platforms and audience platforms to enable targeting and optimization. Currencies have to be understood and vertically integrated into the data model, analytics and attribution, and targeting on an ongoing basis.
So, the tech companies can take aggressive action to merge, acquire and build all the capabilities in the world. But in the end, it's not about who has amassed the biggest arsenal, it's about how well each digital capability can be exploited and integrated to the organization's cCRM strategy. A one-size-fits-all tech stack isn't going to work for the majority of marketers, for a couple of reasons. Many have made decisions based on previous technologies that still need to be considered in their current and future requirements. Others may be taking a best-of-breed approach across the landscape of technologies that are available to them.
Whatever the approach, the proper construction of the technology stack will accommodate the capture, aggregation, and syndication of all data to any component. This will allow any component to subscribe to the holistic view of a consumer: the consumer's past experiences with the brand, the value of the consumer to the brand, and the right message to communicate to that consumer, regardless of channel and media. Furthermore, the data and insights will be able to create richer consumer experiences by powering the optimization and personalization engines.
The biggest impediment to marketing activities is a disjointed technology stack of loosely integrated point solutions for each channel and media. This decreases resource efficiency and erodes marketing performance. Just as important as the platforms and components themselves are the pathways between them. Each component that lacks a pathway to others becomes a silo that will take significant investment to overcome or integrate.
Those brands that rationalize and integrate a strong technology stack, develop their platform marketer competencies, and master addressability at scale will create clear competitive advantage. If you think there's a single vendor out there that can provide the "complete" digital marketing stack that meets your every need, you're missing the point.