This post is based on insights from the Sailthru ebook “2015 Marketing Technology Predictions: The Future of Marketing” available for download now.

In the last 24 months, enterprise software providers have raced to buy up newer marketing competitors – ExactTarget, Buddy Media, Eloqua, Responsys, Silverpop, and countless others have all been acquired. To some extent, this makes sense. None of the big players had an end-to-end, homegrown solution to offer to their marketing customers, and in some cases their database technology didn’t allow for scaling to actually provide solutions needed by modern marketing organizations. So they bought up a slew of other players and boldly announced the birth of the marketing cloud.

In 2015, all these acquisitions are going to be expected to come to market as unified products, fully integrated with not just the assets of the legacy players that bought them, but also those of the other companies their new parents have purchased along the way. It is going to be time to put up or shut up. We are predicting a bounty of Frankenstack nightmares, none of which will be able to deliver on the promise of a flexible and customer-centric solution.

The rhetoric around the marketing cloud will go from being a joke to an impediment to growth that drives high costs in both time and money for marketers. The reason it’s called the cloud is because it’s completely nebulous. If you’re using a marketing cloud, you’re using one company for email and three other platforms for three other things. That’s what’s in your cloud. You’ve signed on with one company, but there could be eight or nine technologies back there chugging along, none of which are fully integrated themselves. In order for your data to be useful as you automate response to real-time consumer engagements, there is a ton that has to happen in an instant – and in most cases, the so-called marketing cloud you’re paying through the nose for just isn’t going to be up to it.

Lest you think we’re being unduly pessimistic, consider the almost comically simple (by comparison) example of merging Excel spreadsheets. If you have one spreadsheet that has columns labeled “lastname, firstname, email, telephone,” and another that reads, “fullname, email, telephone,” well, I’m sure many of you have googled how to put those together and wasted valuable time on the mundane.

The big acquirers are dealing with this same problem, but on a massive scale. They have to deal with issues as big as high-level integration and as granular as data quality. Even with two years to do it, they’re going to come up short, pushing out time frames, reining in capabilities, and leaving a whole lot of customers holding the bag.

2015 is the year customers will realize that these integrations won’t bear fruit and will begin seeking natively built solutions that give them the scale, speed, and flexibility they need.

Neil Capel, CEO & Founder of Sailthru


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