Modern marketers are tech-crazy, constantly searching for the latest innovation to help them optimize the customer lifecycle and gain a completive advantage. For better or worse, marketers have an overabundance of options.
According to technologist Scott Brinker, the MarTech landscape is enormous, with 3,874 companies and growing everyday.
In the past, Larry Ellison would have referred to the maturing MarTech space as a “killer field” with the “Big 5” marketing cloud leaders (Oracle, IBM, Salesforce.com, Adobe, and SAP), picking up niche providers to fill out their product portfolio.
Marketers in the past would have been content with letting the industry leaders pick the winners and losers from this vast field of options. They would have preferred to consolidate their technology needs with one or two vendors so they have “one throat to choke.”
As they have built their Marketing Cloud, Oracle and others have invested mightily in making acquisitions to fill solution gaps in functional areas.
Unfortunately for them, millennials are not behaving the way traditional software buyers have in the past. In fact, there is growing evidence that they are pursuing a “best of breed” approach, aimed at stitching together multiple platforms that follows the customer journey.
Marketers are arranging their stacks either in a linked multiplatform approach, or with a spine in tag management products that hook up to an assortment of specific platforms and independent software vendors.
These new customer-centric clouds cut through the traditional inefficiencies that focused on specific function groups to motivate purchase intent. They are created based on the idea that consumers search for and choose customer-centric brands.
Thus, marketing technology should reflect and enhance this experience. Unfortunately, most clouds offer targeted suites in functional areas that lead to customer and department silos.
Hybrid clouds help to humanize the digital experience and bridge integration seamlessly across all channels and touch points.
A growing leader in the experience cloud space is Sprinklr, recently valued at $1.8 billion. Sprinklr has a focused acquisition strategy that concentrates on integration and is unlike any other in the business.
First, it doesn’t sweep up tools simply to increase the client base or rapidly grow, but instead targets how well each can augment the customer’s experience. Sprinklr then rebuilds their software onto its own platform to ensure seamless integration.
This could present a major challenge for the Big 5, as Oracle’s President Mark Hurd calls the idea of perfect integration between its products impossible, adding that, "There will never be a day where the depth of integration, unless it was all built from the bottom ground up, will be integrated as any of us would like."
When Sprinklr made its initial acquisition in 2014 of the Dachis Group, it was able to launch the first end-to-end operating system for brand marketing that enhanced customer relationships through multiple channels and touch points.
Since then, its business ventures have made it a pioneer in converged media, advocacy, social communities, content management, audience segmentation, and social visualization – all to enrich its clients’ understanding of and engagement with customers.
Even though Sprinklr may be the fastest and most effective solution so far, it’s not alone in the move to deliver this new breed of experience clouds.
Ages ago (in 2014), Gartner predicted that 89% of companies would be competing mostly based on customer experience by today. The leading marketing cloud giants have recognized this new wave and are shifted their strategies accordingly to offer their own experience clouds. The only challenge that remains is integration.
Salesforce, for example, recently acquired Demandware as an integral part of its Customer Success Platform, but it has reportedly been difficult to merge both platforms.
Similarly, Oracle and IBM are especially vocal about their experience cloud offerings, and each present a large number of comprehensive solutions. They are also limited on the integration front, both internally and with third party plug-ins.
It’s still debatable if there will eventually be one cloud to rule them all but for now, the successful platforms will be those that can serve as a solid backbone through internal as well as external integration.
Or as Sprinklr founder and CEO Ragy Thomas states it, “Sprinkle, don’t shout. It’s not about who yells the loudest. It’s about who offers the most value in a relevant, nurturing way.”