Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Modern marketers are spending half their time managing the complex technology ecosystem supporting digital marketing instead of doing the things they should be doing to personalise customer experiences.
That’s the view of Oracle Marketing Cloud general manager, Kevin Akeroyd, who opened the vendor’s first Oracle-branded Interact conference in San Francisco following its acquisition of campaign management vendor, Responsys, last December.
Akeroyd highlighted how marketers are being asked to do a lot more and are gaining increased accountability for customer experience and business growth, even as budgets remain flat and resources tight.
“We are being measured a lot faster and with more scrutiny in a shorter period of time to get over the bar and show more quantifiable results, with more science than ever before,” he told attendees. “We are measured more stringently than ever, but with flat resources and budget. Congratulations guys, here’s how it is being a modern marketer.”
Akeroyd claimed the complexity of digital channels, along with point-based technology, has led to customer fragmentation and impedes a marketer’s ability to manage data holistically.
“We are passing our dysfunctionality on to the customer and it’s blatantly apparent,” he continued. “The number one challenge is getting a holistic, centralised view of customer data to make all this possible.
“At Oracle, we want to do the ‘heavy lifting’ and help marketers unify data, engage audiences, and analyse performance. We are stitching all of this together into one platform that marketers love and IT trusts.”
It may be a later entrant to the marketing space, but there’s no doubting Oracle’s seriousness in addressing the marketing function. The vendor has been on a buying spree, purchasing eight companies in the last 20 months including Responsys, Eloqua, Compendium and BlueKai.
The Oracle resulting Marketing Cloud is split into several key feature sets: Cross-channel campaign management (Responsys, Eloqua), data management (formerly BlueKai), content marketing (Compendium), and social marketing solution (Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver).
Oracle believes the winners of the marketing technology race will be vendors that not only provide the tightest integration across technologies and enterprise suites, but that can also build the best ecosystem of application partners supporting marketing. To this end, the company has 200 application partners and is working to secure more.
“Unlike in the past, when it was enough to just buy best of breed, the winners are going to be the ones who are very committed to integration – technically, the people, and best practices,” Akeroyd said during a press briefing.
He also believe CMOs are increasingly looking to source “hub” marketing technology solutions, and were no longer in denial or resisting the shift to technology driven marketing.
“They acknowledge both the problems and the opportunities. What they’re saying is ‘If I solve the customer centricity thing and the fragmented channel experience by unifying data, then the needle I’m going to move for my company and my customers will be an exponential one’,” Akeroyd told CMO.
“But they don’t know how or in what priority, or where to start, or who to trust.”
At the conference, Oracle Marketing Cloud executives, many of which come from the ranks of Responsys, Eloqua and BlueKai, positioned the vendor’s aligned marketing approach as a response to three key tenets: Marketing simplicity, driving customer centricity, and being enterprise ready.
However, Akeroyd stressed Oracle wasn’t looking to monopolise the marketing technology stack and would rather partner than acquire “last mile” customer delivery technologies.
“It’s more important for us to be content platform, helping with real-time, data decisions, and providing coherency with other touchpoints,” he added. “The value [for marketers] is in cohesive experience across all touchpoints and we want to be the central system.”
Akeroyd saw the biggest challenge Oracle faces with CMOs to be one of credibility.
“We have a strong relationship with IT, finance and other lines of business, but two years ago, Oracle didn’t come to mind for marketing cloud,” he said. “We do have the credibility of buying great brands, but there is scepticism of what Oracle will do with them.
“But when we get serious about a category, we are strongly committed and go all the way and that’s no different in the marketing space.”
Oracle announced a number of enhancements and new features across its product suite in advance of the conference. These include automated workflow for look-a-like customer modelling using its BlueKai data management platform; push notifications to mobile devices via the Responsys marketing automation platform; and new persona profiling tool for driving messaging across all digital channels through the Eloqua platform.
In addition, interface design enhancements have been made across all products under the Marketing Cloud, and cross-channel marketing workflow management has been introduced based on the calendar function from Compendium. Oracle also announced new responsively design email campaign capabilities in both its Responsys and Eloqua platforms.
Nadia Cameron travelled to Oracle Interact as a guest of Oracle.
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