James Governor's Monkchips

Software, Services and The Office of The CMO

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I am no expert in tech purchasing by marketing people, but I do understand enterprise software, with its attendant bucket game. At RedMonk we specialise in understanding bottom up tech adoption, driven by developers and practitioners – but understanding how change flows upwards requires that you also understand how management is exerting pressure from above. And of course the top downers are the folks with budgets.

Anyway – it seems like something is afoot in terms of marketing and its role in the organisation. the kind of something worth $$$. The kind of something that is going to make and break IT companies.

At the recent IBM Impact conference I watched Geoffrey Moore do his keynote thing. He does it well. I really like his new schtick- which is that while the last 30 years of business automation have been about creating Systems Of Record, the next years will be about creating Systems of Engagement. This is a fairly elegant model for explaining the ongoing changes in the role of business and IT.

Assuming Moore is right, there will surely be an attendant shift in budgets. Systems of Record were bought by, and for, the bean counters. Systems of Record are owned and managed by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). But Systems of Engagement- getting closer to employees, customers and partners, encouraging greater participation in company ecosystems- well that’s a marketing function isn’t it? The key buyer for Systems of Engagement will likely be the Office of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Of course, Systems of Engagement will in many respects need to be Systems of Record. Kevin Cochrane at Adobe, a guy that can nerd out with the best of us, used a phrase this week to describe Adobe’s current strategic direction – to create “ERP for Marketing”. But lets focus on engagement for a minute.

Two major IT firms are way out ahead in terms of identifying the new buyer, and gearing up to serve them – that is Adobe and IBM.

Marketing is Adobe’s home turf, but that’s historically been on the creative and design side – the side of the house that doesn’t measure stuff. But creative is coming together with measurement on the Web – which is why Adobe bought Omniture. The other shoe to drop for Adobe was the Day Software acquisition- I had initially thought this was about dorky open source content management goodness, until I saw exactly what Adobe was delivering by integrating the CQ5 CMS with Omniture – a closed loop system for content management and analytics, with business rules, wizards and WYSIWG galore. Marketing folks can with a minimum of effort change the page served by geography, or any number of other parameters. Then check out the analytics and see what’s happening. This week at its London Omniture summit Adobe also announced a Social Analytics platform. The idea is that the data collected by Omniture can also be used for Perception Monitoring and so on. There are a truckload of firms in the social media monitoring space – follow Larry Hawes and Jeremiah Owyang if you’re looking for recommendations. Nathan Gilliatt has an indepth report on the companies in the space and blogs accordingly.

Salesforce.com acquired Radian 6, one of the social media monitoring firms, and is building out its own Chatter platform, which is clearly a System of Engagement. But Adobe and IBM are ahead in positioning for the Office for CMO, certainly in terms of sales and consulting resources.

IBM – really? Yes really. While our great grandad’s IBM served butchers, and our grandad’s IBM served accounting, and our dad’s IBM served IT – today’s IBM is nailing the CFO again, but as an adjacent market is now going aggressively after the Office of CMO.

IBM acquired Coremetrics for Web Analytics. It also acquired Unica for online campaign management. Then there is the Social Business portfolio. We can expect plenty more acquisitions. This Unica commisioned research shows pretty clearly where IBM (and Adobe) are going with all this stuff.

  • Marketers Ready to Bridge the ‘Data Analysis to Action’ Gap: Nearly 60 percent of respondents listed “measurement, analysis and learning” as their top information technology (IT) bottleneck, whereas last year, they overwhelmingly viewed “IT support of marketing needs” at the top. More than 60 percent identified “turning data into action” as their top organizational issue.
  • Marketing Technology in Demand: Nearly 90 percent of respondents expressed interest in an integrated marketing suite, as the industry’s need for technology grows and adoption matures. More than half of marketers cited technology as the key to productivity, in particular, to resolving the challenges of meaningful measurement and analysis, and to choosing the next best course of action.
  • Marketing Silos Limit Cross-Channel Marketing: Marketers believe in the concept of Interactive Marketing, but have more progress to make toward this vision. While responses suggest that interest in achieving truly integrated cross-channel dialogs with customers is high, nearly half of survey participants report that they are only partially achieving that goal. The key barrier is organizational structure and internal processes. Regardless, 57% report the adoption of inbound marketing methods (personalized targeting/messaging) in their web channels.

Portals at the front end, e-commerce, social media, everything integrated, with data, with front ends that marketers, rather than developers or designers, can use- that’s where we’re heading.

At the Omniture summit I was talking to Raj Sen, group manager Insight at Adobe, when I asked about who the competitors were. Pretty clearly IBM is looming large in the Adobe consciousness. But I thought Sens’ answer about competition with smaller firms was interesting: while he agreed that some firms had some good offerings and applications, their data, he said, was in silos. Marketing needed to be systematic, and buy a packaged suite of offerings to underpin user engagement and experience. It was almost like talking to SAP in its pomp – Suite vs best of breed, the power of a system of record. He claims Adobe’s Insight platform isn’t just about new media, but also integration with systems such as call center records, IVR, and loyalty program databases. That’s proper integration and consulting right there.

As marketing becomes digital marketing, the breadcrumbs are there for collection and analysis. We’re leaving the era of not knowing which part of our ad spend works. We’re going to see marketing departments make landgrabs, and vendors too. Systems of Record meets Systems of Engagement- the new buyer.

Welcome to the office of the CMO.


Adobe, IBM and Salesforce.com are all clients.


  1. Excellent James, as is often the case with you. See also Terradata, TIBCO and other infrastructure companies acquiring CRM. I think you’re on to something, as is Geoffrey Moore. Isn’t the explosion of social really about engagement in some very meaningful way, even with all of the flaws? I think enterprises need to think this way more. It’s a smart path.

    1. thanks matt. yes- Raj mentioned Teradata and TIBCO in passing – i should probably have a look and write a follow up. its going to be interesting – colouring the entire tenor of the Analytics with a capital A buildout.

  2. further – let me reiterate i loved the way Moore cut through all the hard to explain stuff (e2.0 etc) with a straightforward way of thinking about the evolution.

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