Making Sense of the MarTech Universe

The marketing technology landscape is like the universe, vast and large. By last count, Scott Brinker of counted over 5000 marketing technology vendors. And these solutions—driven by the diverse needs of marketers and the imagination of innovative entrepreneurs—don’t always fit into nice, neat categories.

This contributes to the confusion that many marketers feel around MarTech. There is no standard taxonomy for the MarTech solution space, which makes it difficult to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks of capabilities.

But after many conversations with research analysts and after reading many great articles on the subject, I’ve developed a simple approach to help make sense of this confusing world. 

There are three systems that you need to understand

Systems of Record

Systems of record are typically at the bottom of the stack of systems, and consist of a database on top of which an application is built. When the data and app power a critical business function, it becomes a “system of record." For retail marketers, CRM systems and a POS systems are examples of systems of record.

Systems of Intelligence

Where systems of record are about the data, systems of intelligence are about what to with the data. Systems of intelligence span multiple systems of record and other data sources, and use predictive analytics and machine learning to identify opportunities and draw conclusions from vast amounts of data. Examples include Customer Intelligence, Marketing Attribution, and Web Analytics.

Systems of Execution

Systems of execution drive direct consumer engagement. They power the campaigns that touch customers. Examples include Marketing Clouds, Cross Channel Campaign Management Systems, Personalization Engines, and Product Recommendation solutions.

 A Deeper View Into the Three Systems

Where does Custora fit in the MarTech Universe?

Custora is a system of customer intelligence. Our platform take data from multiple sources (CRM, POS, eCommerce, web browsing data, etc.), builds a single record for each customer, enriches each record with predictive insights, provides access for marketers to create smart segments, and integrates with systems of execution to turn insights into action. Custora is often called a Customer Analytics Platform, or an Advanced Segmentation Platform powered by predictive analytics. But regardless of what we are called, what we do is uncover and activate customer insights to improve marketing performance. 

A Closer Look at the Systems of Execution

Custora if often confused with systems of execution. Some confuse us with personalization engines, others with cross channel campaign management tools. Custora is a system of intelligence that feeds insights into all of the systems of execution to improve the performance of marketing campaigns across multiple channels. The differences will be clearer when we take a deeper look at some of the more important systems of execution.

Enterprise Marketing Software Suites (also called marketing clouds) automate the execution of marketing campaigns. Email is the common denominator – all are ESPs. They have been built through acquisitions, and most offer mobile, digital marketing, and social capabilities along with email. The biggest challenge for retailers evaluating EMSS vendors is the need to rip out existing marketing automation tools and replace them with a suite from a marketing cloud vendor (integrations with third party software is not their strength). The EMSS leading vendors are Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, SAS and SAP.

Cross Channel Campaign Management Systems automate the delivery of the next best action. Most solutions control at least one channel of execution and that is typically email. XCCM solutions enable the creation of rules to guide a customer journey. The biggest challenge with XCCM solutions is their lack of integration with third party software. A retailer usually needs to use the XCCM vendor’s execution tools to make the cross channel communication flow work. As a result, most retailers use XCCM management tools to orchestrate coordinated email deliveries.  Leading vendors include Adobe (Campaign), Salesforce (CCM), IBM (Campaign), SAS (Customer Intelligence 360), Oracle and Marketo.

Personalization Engines optimize the website experience for each visitor. They are based on technology that enables triggered changes to a web page. Every PE also includes testing capabilities ranging from A/B to multi-variate testing approaches. The biggest challenge for PEs is the lack customer insights beyond real-time website behavior. Leading vendors include Dynamic Yield, Monetate, Optimizely, Qubit, Oracle and Adobe.

Event Triggered Communications automate email delivery based on real-time website behavior. This is “set it and forget it” technology. ETC vendors have triggering mechanisms to deliver emails based on cart abandonment or web browsing behavior. The biggest challenge for retailers looking at ETC solutions is the lack of integration with other systems of execution (email is typically the sole communication vehicle) and the inability to use data sources other than real-time web behavior. Leading vendors include SmarterHQ and BlueCore, and many ESPs are providing event triggered communication as part of their core capabilities.

Anyway, I’d love your thoughts and feedback. It’s entirely possible that this model won’t stand up to your scrutiny, and it’s back to the drawing board. But maybe, with a few tweaks and improvements, this could be the start of something useful.

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