Posted by: garyskidmore | May 28, 2014

Somewhere a Cloud is Serving Up Marketing to You (and Your Competitors)


The pace of change in marketing technology during the past 10 years is astonishing. It used to be (and probably still is, to some extent) that the big challenge in enterprises was getting the sales team and the marketing team to play nice together.

Today, an even bigger challenge is marketing and technology alignment – having a unified plan for managing the huge growth, variety and speed of data to recognize and serve customers at every touch-point in real time. In step with this alignment are having in place data management platforms and analytics capabilities to manage the high volume of prospects. Daunting indeed.

Welcome to the Marketing Cloud: Where the ether of digital technology enables data flows and information analysis for the potential of the smartest marketing we’ve ever known. Except one thing: how do we master it all?

As a president of a global marketing company, I was concerned (and still am) about silos of data – downloaded from a centralized customer or prospect database. Where one part of the enterprise, or another, worked on its various objectives independent of each other – creating mini-data stores that did a wonderful job for a department’s immediate business needs, but created incongruent views of the customer (and prospect) overall. From the customer’s experience, this delivered an inconsistent, disjointed brand experience.

Those nasty data silos “down” in the organization now have a crazier cousin – how do I manage “up” to the Marketing Cloud?

Right now, the bigger your brand, the more technology, data and analytics providers there are jumping all over your customer and prospect interactions, appending information, slicing and dicing, and serving up differentiated content in the persistent pursuit of greater relevance. It’s really a fascinating development – and one that has to happen to serve consumers the way they expect and demand, but yet is there really a central force – a CMO-CIO partnership – driving it all in sync?

Let’s not kid ourselves – no one brand really fully controls “its” marketing cloud, and neither does any single Big Tech or Big Digital company, no matter how many startups and acquisitions they undertake to increase share. Web site analytics, customer data management, tag management, prospect and customer data segmentation and appending, ad networks and servers, social platforms and social sharing, customer reviews, data quality management – a plethora of tech vendors large and small have access to a brand’s customer data, and potentially that of prospects, too.

As software-as-a-service off the cloud booms, it is hard to conceive that all this enterprise data is safe and secure. I’m not talking about security in the sense of criminal networks and foreign government espionage (though these threats are very real, too), but that of “commercial evaporation and precipitation of data” – leakage – as information is de-identified, re-identified, aggregated, analyzed and served up to meet the needs of consumers in each and every channel.

In a brilliant white paper (download link, registration required), Ghostery Enterprises reports that one leading retailer conducted an audit of its data vendors in the Marketing Cloud against its three main competitors and found a 72-percent overlap. Ouch! Yes contracts can spell out firewalls between competitors with a single vendor, but can they truly stop all leakage in cross-category situations with all vendors large and small? Ghostery also identified Web site load times, lack of uniform encryption, and “diluted data” from third-party data sources as additional Cloud threats. Whether or not we like it, we’re taking on all this risk to get the consumer served.

What’s your take on the Marketing Cloud? Is software-as-a-service making marketing easier – or harder? Are you in control of all your vendors (and what they are doing)? Do you have the ways and means in place to manage data flows and data analysis and apply learning throughout the organization? And keep this learning proprietary?

Helpful Links:


“The biggest challenge that you see as a cloud beginner is security, followed by compliance, followed by managing multiple clouds. Now, it’s interesting, because as you move down to cloud focus, you’ll see … the top challenges change for cloud-focused companies.”

— Kim Weins, Vice President for Marketing, RightScale, reported in Fierce Enterprise Communications


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