One upon a time: there was a time when advertising and marketing campaigns were basically a shot in the dark, as Dilbert puts it. That is now (almost) over:
Today, we are in the position to deliver tailored campaigns, which allow the complete customer journey to be transparently portrayed. Digital marketing is growing closer to IT and other areas. In order to use this knowledge in the customer’s best interest – the touch points are not only in marketing – sales and services have to be brought on board. Service content and commerce are likewise closing ranks. Because of this, classic departmental structures don’t make much sense anymore.
When the departments in a company grow closer, it can be supposed that the platforms do as well. For this reason, manufacturers strive to offer integrated solutions – one user interface for all stake holders. Not only an ideal user interface for end clients, but also for business clients and staff. That is why there has been a race between manufactures in the last few years, as to who can deliver a fully integrated solution first.
Who manages a comprehensive digital experience?
For the Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Delivery Platforms, Q3 2014, the products of Acquia, Adobe, Demandware, Digital River, HP Autonomy, hybris, IBM, Intershop, OpenText , Oracle, salesforce.com, SDL, and Sitecore were examined.
Adobe and hybris were recognised as trail blazers, however according to Forrester, there is still much left to be desired when it comes to completeness. IBM and Sitecore are hot in pursuit, but no one is offering a complete end-to-end solution yet. The analysis also uncovered the willingness to buy under the large scale providers. Apart from Intershop, all of the companies examined have made large investments in relevant start-ups and technologies over the past months and years.
Consistency and contextualisation were seen to be especially important for software solutions. For example, it is becoming increasingly important for e-commerce systems to include both content and marketing functionalities. New challenges, such as increased personalisation of the customer address cannot be met any other way.
There is a lack of acceptance: integrated solutions are not always desired
It is not just the technological challenges which are holding back development. Acceptance on the part of merchants also needs an upgrade. Complete solutions are viewed rather critically – merchants don’t want a universal tool, but the ones which offer the best details view in their relevant area.
Complete solutions provide companies with the prospect of replacing all existing systems in one new one. This hides opportunities and risks – on the one hand, there is the comprehensive overview and the comfortable data linking, offering an all-round, fast overview of all data, key figures and processes.
On the other hand, you are putting yourself in the hands of a solution provider, which cannot be the best in every discipline. On top of that, there are the high costs. Customers have already invested in connecting existing systems with each other, and the staff already have competence in the existing systems.
System linking or complete solution – which will prevail?
In the future, the battle for the top will be fought among merchants who don’t use data in different silos, but integrated data. At least, this is how software manufacturers imagine it.
Currently, it seems questionable whether or not networking will reach its limits and the maze of channels will make integrated solutions more attractive. What do our readers think?