The holiday season represents two completely different trains of thought. As a consumer, it's the deluge of offers and options I have available to help with my buying decisions. The holidays are always a conflict between convenience, timing and budget optimization. (Personally, I put an emphasis on the first and second factors.) As a marketer, my world revolves around "decision management": maximizing consumer traffic (who, when they are ready to buy) and convenience (where and how they can streamline the purchase) and promotion (what creates the urgency). We spend countless nights optimizing to the "buying window" (like Black Friday, Cyber Monday). From last year to this year, there are several things we know for certain:
1. We are sending more email than we did last year.
2. We are leveraging more in-depth targeting and personalization.
3. We are delivering more dynamic experiences.
4. We are delivering through more channels (new: mobile SMS, mobile apps, social).
5. We have accelerated how we react to results.
If you believe these assumptions and live the reality of managing this with the same budget and resources you had last year, where does the dam break?
Business decision management (BDM) will have a profound impact on direct marketing in the future. Think of all the trends above and a few more. We will manage 10X more data than we do today (according to IDC's "As the Economy Contracts, the Digital Universe Expands") Also, in the next five years:
- Nearly two thirds of all Internet users will use mobile devices (we're continually on the go).
- Interactions between people via email, messaging, social will grow by a factor of 8.
- Meanwhile, IT budgets shrunk in 2008-2009.
The velocity of business decisions, the processes that support how we make decisions and the technologies that support these decisions will all become big impacts to our businesses. I believe some of the largest investments we'll make in the coming years will be specifically related to BDM technologies. They will center on four key components that you as a marketer and technology provider will need to address:
Data Platforms: You must have the foundational data warehouse and relate infrastructure components like Extract - Transform - Load (ETL) must support the operational data requirements that supports the decisions. This will become dimensional over time and your ability to integrated data environments will be the foundational requirement.
Decision Execution Environment: Most point solutions offer rules engines. This is only part of a decision platform. Execution will tie into your data management platform, execution of models, business rules, and supporting building scenarios that the models can inform.
Business User Environment: Your ability to allow non-technical users to build adaptive workflow will be the next generation of decision management platforms.
Analytical Environment: This will likely be driven by point solutions depending on the kinds of analytics work required. Most platforms don't have the sophistication in the analytical environment to do the processing and to deploy the models in the same platform. Most organizations will outsource the data mining, potentially source the predictive modeling and focus on internal deployment of the models.
If you think about how you manage your business today and how you translate that to the holiday season -- multiply the complexity by four, the speed of decisions by two and operate with the same budget. Envision how you'll get all this done without better data intelligence, better data management, better coordination of workflow and better modeling of business decisions. Our world is changing, technology will transform -- and you'd better begin investing IP in it today.