James Governor's Monkchips

More about Marketing Software, Or, Where Should We Put The User?

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I recently posted about the coming battle between Adobe and IBM for the global marketing spend in a world where we can count all the breadcrumbs of our digital interactions. Or as I said in 2006: “every act of “consumption” generates metadata you could build a business model on.”

Soon after I wrote the CMO post IBM pinged me tell me a little more about its own strategy in this area. Job one – integrate its Coremetrics and Unica acquisitions into a coherent, integrated product set. Big Blue launched the resulting product, The IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Optimization Suite, July 15th. The offering is SaaS based so it should be  easier to integrate, extend and roll out new features to customers at scale, at speed, than traditional on premise System of Record software. Unica provides campaign analytics, while coremetrics brings the analytics side of the equation. For an Adobe comparison see the Adobe Online Marketing Suite.

But this post isn’t so much about the technology, as the framing behind it. Because while the tools may be converging, Adobe and IBM have very different visions for the space.

IBM is very clearly in System of Record mode. It describes its own play as a kind of ERP for marketing, enabling marketing to do a better job of managing its digital supply chain, to drive better engagement at customers. This is worthy goal.

But Adobe, while it also wants to go after the CMO (and has hopes if not pretensions for an ERP-like play itself), has a more human feel to the story it tells. Adobe’s platform after all comes with all of the company’s user experience baggage in train. Adobe’s tools are about optimising the customer and user experience (UX), which benefits the marketing department. Adobe has UX in its DNA. IBM – not so much.

In my opinion we need to put the user first, and Adobe is further ahead in that regard.  Serve the user and marketing wins. Serve marketing however, and the user may not.


disclosure: both firms are clients.





  1. Hey James,

    I’m a big fan of your research and analysis work, but this time I think I have to disagree with your statement.

    The biggest issue marketing departments face is accountability.

    And perhaps also maybe just maybe some “nomenclature disconnects”. Because at the end of the day; what do we mean by ‘marketing’?

    Nevertheless,… if you put equal signs between usability = user needs = marketing then I personally think you are defining marketing in a way too narrow way.

    Back to accountability. Many “marketing” departments still only concentrate on product development and some old fashioned PR, outbound (usually events) campaign management and inbound web analytics. Few can paint an holistic picture.

    Today buyers buy and we do not longer only sell to them. Failure to present the right information gets you in trouble (because that is what marketing and sales really are, i.e. the exchange of information about needs and solutions).

    Here’s an interesting fact: 70% of that buyer’s buying journey already is completed when a sales rep becomes part of the dialogue. So the question is: who takes care of the customer during that first 70%?

    It’s here where the opportunity lies IMHO. It’s change management. It’s about adding left hand side brain power to the marketing department. Granted; the way thing look and feel stay important (rigth hand side stuff) but not knowing what works and what doesn’t in terms of their ability to generate income or revenue is of far greater importance. Few marketing departments today are capable of creating a one view of the truth, and use that data to improve. Instead they concentrate on tactics, and a lot of copying and pasting (me too marketing) and as a result they generate silos of data they want to analyze and which they can’t tie to revenue/conversion.

    I think both IBM and Adobe are obviously getting this, but they are going about it differently. However Adobe will have to add more analytical power to the mix and come up with solutions that help paint a more holistic picture. Omniture was one step in that direction I guess. I can see that next they will go after a marketing automation (revenue performance) player… But don’t forget salesforce.com either

    Not saying usability is not important. Only trying to say that there is (much) more than that… I’m sure you know but your post didn’t provide this perspective



    1. Great commentary Koen. thanks. You are of course right about right brain and left brain, right hand and left. However- I still feel that most businesses need to invest more smartly in service and product design and user experience – which are currently much neglected. Good marketing puts the user at the very heart of what it does.

  2. I want to compare IBM and Adobe in their Digital marketing Features. Where can I get this Information, to choose/identify which one is good choice and for what.

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