Adobe, Salesforce lead Forrester list of enterprise marketing technology vendors

Latest Forrester report looks at how enterprise marketing software suites fare up against each other, and the ongoing development of functionality through AI

Adobe and Salesforce are leading the pack of enterprise marketing software suite providers, a new Forrester report claims.

The latest report, The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Software Suite Q1, 2018, identifies seven of the most comprehensive vendor EMSS platforms now available to enterprise marketers as part of a 40-criteria evaluation of offerings currently in market. The platforms included all had to provide customer data management and analytics, campaign management, advertising and interaction orchestration and delivery, as well as some marketing resource, content and performance measurement capabilities.

In the lead and well into Forrester’s ‘leaders’ category was Adobe’s Experience Cloud platform, followed by Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Both were considered to have the strongest platform development strategies, as well as the broadest current offerings. In Adobe’s case, an overall strategic focus on marketing and consumer engagement and its heavy investment into core services to unify data, content and shared functionality across products were key strengths.

“Adobe stands out for its digital intelligence, content handling and aggressive rollout of AI features,” the report stated.

Salesforce, meanwhile, has acquired and innovated its way into a commanding position, Forrester said, buying up ExactTarget, Krux and Pardot along the way. The vendor’s approach also puts EMSS in a wider ‘customer success platform’ approach and as firmly a part of the enterprise solutions portfolio.

The next tier down, ‘strong performers’, was populated by IBM Watson Marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud and SAP Hybris Marketing. In IBM’s case, it’s Watson, strength in cross-channel campaign management and real-time interaction management that leads its EMSS charge. Oracle’s EMSS distinguishes itself thanks to balanced marketing, advertising and data capabilities, Forrester stated.

The analyst firm also included SAS’s Customer Intelligence offering, which it described as an ‘EMSS iconoclast that leads with customer insights’ but lacked some capabilities around customer and user experience management, digital advertising and performance measurement.

Marketo’s Engagement Platform was represented in the list as a ‘contender’, lagging behind its peers in terms of strategy and current offering and the absence of data services and advertising technology functionality, but nevertheless in the mix.   

Forrester noted the EMSS market is growing because more B2C marketing professionals are increasingly looking to build a martech stack that helps them engage customers across channels, devices and interactions. The analyst firm noted a 2017 survey of 364 global marketers found 54 per cent had implemented or were implementing an EMSS, and a further 15 per cent planned to do so this year.

What was also apparent was that customer data management, integration and artificial intelligence (AI) are key differentiators across the enterprise platforms being offered to marketers.

“As established marketing technologies become commoditised, the ability to handle customer data; integrate data content and functionality; an innovative marketing technology with AI will dictate which providers will lead the pack,” the report stated. “Vendors that can provide customer data management, integration and AI-powered capabilities position themselves to successfully deliver solutions that support modern B2C marketing.”

And the race is already on. Key announcements made by Adobe, Salesforce, IBM and Oracle in 2017, for example, were all about AI capabilities being introduced to optimise and augment the feature sets not just of their existing marketing platforms, but wider experience, sales and technology management offerings. These features stretch from image recognition and chatbots to customisable AI models.

In Salesforce’s case, AI foundation technology is referred to under the brand umbrella of ‘Einstein’, while at Adobe, it’s ‘Sensei’. IBM’s Watson is arguably the most established of the AI offerings, while at Oracle, AI is being rolled out as ‘Adaptive Intelligent Apps’ across each software platform.

Read more: IBM's Watson bring data-driven insight to Australian fashion couture

Yet while touting the rise of EMSS, the Forrester report makes clear there’s no one platform that will cover every B2C marketing requirement.

“Historically, EMSS has been positioned at the opposite end of the spectrum from best-of-breed solutions, portrayed as a single solution that supersedes many disparate marketing technologies,” the report stated. “But that value proposition is unrealistic.

“Marketers’ expectations for EMSS are maturing in tandem with the technology itself. Rather than driving toward a fantastical marketing technology singularity, the opportunities for EMSS are both more practical and sophisticated.”

For example, an EMSS will mitigate but not eliminate complexity by linking systems of insight and engagement and allow for functionality across different tasks, channels and devices.

“But there is still complexity within EMSS offerings related to data handling, developing workflows across applications, and integrating with other martech stack components,” the report continued.

Likewise, an EMSS platform still has to operate in a wider business technology portfolio to truly succeed. Ultimately, therefore, the whole single martech stack is a work in progress, Forrester concluded.

Among the areas that require further development are bringing adtech into the fold, extending measurement, adding data services and identity and further extending the capabilities of AI.

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