Interview: Alterian CEO on martech consolidation and uniting digital with direct

Global chief of new-look cross-channel campaign management and real-time interaction vendor shares his plans to win against the platform play

Robert Hale
Robert Hale

Platform play versus best-of-breed

Alterian isn’t the first company to be divested and resurrected as a standalone business. Another is marketing resource management provider, Aprimo, which was acquired by Teradata but sold off earlier this year as part of a divestment of marketing applications assets. Last week, Experian also announced plans to divest its campaigns business.

Hale suggests this trend ties back to the platform versus best-of-breed discussion. “This is nothing more than the next level of that reality,” he says.

“SDL and Teradata went for a platform play, and it was probably marketing more than technology that couldn’t execute on that story. Their second choice is to focus and divest what isn’t core.”

Ultimately, Hale believes marketers – at least from mid-market and down – want the option of a best-of-breed solution that can play within a diverse ecosystem of martech and adtech tools. Certainly, recent reports suggest this is the case.

A study by Walker Sands Communications and in the US released in October, found best-of-breed marketing technology stacks are leading the field, with 48 per cent of those surveyed building stacks made up of multiple point solutions. These marketers also were getting the most value from their tech stacks, with 83 per cent rating their companies’ ability to leverage the full power of their tools as excellent or good.

“Marketers are never going to be the uber master of a one-all, catch all platform, because there are tonnes of investments into siloed, best-of-breed solutions, especially between the two sides [martech and adtech,” Hale adds.

Coping with a consumer-controlled universe

For Hale, the challenges marketers face right now as they shift from creative thinking towards a more data, analytics, measurements and ROI-based universe are being driven by a changing consumer.

“In general, the biggest challenge marketers have gone through is that it’s all consumer controlled,” he says. “We can do journeys, mapping and analytics, but the idea that you can push the message and control it is gone. Social media and other changes we’ve seen out there have changed that.

“The marketers that have endorsed the fact that consumers are empowered and are realigning their businesses to interact based on that kind of relationship, are having better success with the ones still trying to control the message.”

Hale says he’s surprised how many marketers still don’t leverage campaign management very well with analytics to meet this need. “It’s not hard, it’s time consuming to take it to the next level. It’s not a technology problem – these systems are 100 per cent dynamic. You want a completely different message, with timing? It’s very doable but you have to understand them,” he says.

According to Hale, there is a “liberation” in accepting consumers are empowered. “The nice thing about solution selling is I can just ask you what you want and if you’re empowered, then I just need to be able to interact with you,” he says.

“Real-time starts to force that, because it starts to assume it’s user controlled. All the interactions you’ve done online – the things you did on the website -need to filter back into the customer journey map. There are still logical things to follow up on as a marketer, but it changes based on what the consumer did. But without tying it together, I’m back to a disjointed experience.”

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