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TFM(&A) 2003 to 2013 – a big lesson in confusion marketing

March 1, 2013

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”

confusedI’ve used this classic Bill Gates quote a number of times in this blog over the last 5 years and have certainly witnessed it playing out in technology developments I have been associated with during my career – from desktop publishing, to digital broadcasting, 3G mobile, web-based applications and consumer electronics.

Since entering the workplace in marketing roles in the 1980s, there is no doubt that the processes involved in marketing have evolved tremendously over the last 20 years but I find myself somewhat disappointed and disillusioned with what’s happened in the field of ‘Technology for Marketing’ over the last 10 years.

Things certainly seemed a lot more clear cut when the TFM show was in its ascendance back in 2003 and divided its proposition across marketing, customer service and sales domains. The irrational exhuberance of those heady dotcom days was passed and there was a much more serious focus on the tangible things technology could deliver to the sales, marketing and customer care agendas and processes.

10 years on we have an explosion of acronyms – not just amongst the exhibitors but from the exhibition organisers themselves – TFM&A, OA&A, IDMX and P&ME – err WTF?

I was confused before I even walked in through the doors and the sub categorisation of Digital, Direct, CRM, Data and Online didn’t really help make things much clearer.

Isn’t everything digital and online these days? Aren’t we all dealing ‘direct’ via the wonders of digital channels and isn’t everything we do about data in one form or another?

I remember agreeing with a tweet earlier this year, in amongst the ‘trends for 2013’ commentary that observed “2013 is the year ‘digital’ marketing becomes just ‘marketing’ again” – well if this year’s TFM(&A) is anything to go by it can’t happen soon enough in my book.

My interpretation of this situation is that rather than ‘underestimating’ how far ‘marketing technology’ would move forward over the last 10 years, the marketing ‘industry’ is being hampered and undermined by a confusing mess.

And guess who benefits from this?

Not the marketer, not the customer and certainly not the buyer of such solutions.

It is undoubtedly the ‘marketers of marketing technology’!

How do I know this? Well (coughs) I was one once and based on my visit this week, there are still many familiar faces on the stands and in the seminar theatres of TFM(&A) today – if only a few familiar company names were in attendance from 10 years ago 🙂

Here are a few ‘face value’ observations …

1. The number of exhibiters 10 years on is roughly the same (whether the floor areas from Olympia to Earls Court 2 are similar I don’t really know but the show ‘felt’ about the same sort of size as previous years from when I attended as a presenter, exhibitor and/or visitor)

2. Only 4 organisations (less than 2.5% ) with their original names are exhibiting 10 years on – Apteco, Bureau van Dijk, Experian and MediaCo

3. My particular sector of focus – Web Content Management – was not visibly represented in 2003 by names recognisable today. The commonly mentioned CMS vendors only started exhibiting at this event from 2004 onwards and those represented this year were Acquia (Drupal), Ektron, EPiServer, Sitecore, Sitefinity, SDL and Kentico. See how this compares to/validates Janus Boyes latest UK Top Ten CMS Vendors list here

4. To me, the logical categorisation of marketing technologies that runs across this 10 year period is 1. Awareness, 2. Acquisition, 3. Conversion and 4. Retention. I know in our ‘social media’ CEM/CXM/WEM orientated world it is argued that ‘Referal’ slots into the cycle after Retention and that  ‘Satisfaction’ comes between Acquisition and Conversion but I would argue they have always been in this cycle as fundamental elements of good sales, marketing and customer service.

5. Back in 2003, Alterian was one of the shows main sponsors and realistically at that time contributed structured data through some of the marketing cycle. It then spent much of the following 5 years trying to become an active participant across all parts of the cycle through acquisition of solutions that dealt with the largely ‘unstructured’ part of the cycle. This mixed bag of solutions now sits alongside even more solutions within the SDL stable.

So, 10 years ago I would say the proposition was clear-cut and articulated simply but the technology itself was highly fragmented. Today, the technology is highly converged and simpler to understand but the proposition being put around it is very fragmented and confused.

There is one thing I can say for certain though, pretty much all of those steps in the marketing cycle that I have used a myriad of tools to address over the last 20 years can now be achieved effectively and efficiently across many scenarios using one core solution – namely Drupal, its community and eco-system.

I would happily challenge representatives from that long list of companies below to explain why what they provide could not be adequately addressed by Drupal and its eco-system.

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TFM&A Exhibitors 2013 TFM Exhibitors 2003
360 Imagery ActivePower Business Systems
Absolute Digital Media Acxiom UK
Acquia Adobe Systems
Ad Dynamo Europe Advice Centre hosted by i-CE/HSC
AdInsight Alterian
Advansys Amcat
Agile CI Angoss Software
Apache Solutions Ltd Apteco
Apteco Arc en Ciel
B2B Marketing Atmyside
Blueberry Marketing Solutions Bluestreak
Bournemouth University Broadsystem
BPMonline BSD Marketing
Brad Insight Bureau Van Dijk
Brainlabs – Scientific PPC Agency Business Objects UK
BrandMaker Business Power Technology
Brandworkz Limited Call Centre DataFile
Brite Verify Call Centre Management Association
Bronto Software Capscan
Bulk SMS Care Business Solutions
Bureau van Dijk Catan Marketing Limited
C2 Software CDMS Solutions
Calltracks Centaur Communications
Casual Films CheetahMail
Celsius International CIM Tech
Channel Merchandise Cintra-Brand Asset Management
Click Consult Claritas UK
ClickTale Clarity Blue
Clickwork7 Affiliate Network Client Technologies
CLS Communication Ltd CMP PR Audit
Coast Digital Commence Countdown
Commission Junction Cyrane Systems
Consumersketch Data Discoveries
ContentPlus Database Marketing
Corpdata Ltd DeHavilland Information Services
Corporate Rewards Digital Impact
Covario Digiterre
Crimson Hexagon Disc
Crowd Bait Discus Systems
D2M Direct Marketing Merz Doctrina
Data HQ Documedia Solutions
Data Quality Management Group Limited DoubleClick
Digi-products Ltd DQ Global
Digital Broadcasters Ltd Dun & Bradstreet
Direct Marketing Association E-relationship Marketing
dotDigital Group e-sales consultants
Dyn e1 Business
e-locations Ltd Ebiz
eCircle Edge Designs
eGentic elucid (PSE)
e-locations Email Bureau
Ektron Email Reaction
Eloqua eSpotting Media
Emailmovers EuroDirect Database Marketing
Emailvision Europa Technologies
emarsys Exact Abacus
Emedia Experian
Engineered Arts FD Systems
Entergate First Presenter
EPiServer Firstlogic
Europac3D GB Group
Eventforce Solutions Genesys
ExactTarget GMAP Consulting (Eurodirect)
Exclaimer Haymarket Publishing
Experian Marketing Services HCCM Systems
Expertsender HECTRIX
Extensis helpIT systems
Fast Web Media Hopewiser
Featurespace Hub Media
Focus Integrated Marketing Communications Hurst MailAgent
Fotolia LLC Hybyte Solutions and Services
Global Marketing Alliance Identex
Global-Z International Iequalsp
Gold-Vision Inovar
Greyfinn insight@tmw
Hotel Chocolat Ltd Institute Of Customer Service
IGO-POST Institute of Professional Sales
iGoDigital Intellidata
Inbox Warriors Iocea.Com
Infinity Tracking Iperium
Inspiring Interns Limited ISM Sales Simulator
Intela ISSEL
iomart Hosting J
iStockphoto JCM Media
Kaboodle HQ Kingswood MapMechanics
Kentico Software Ltd Lammtara Multiserve
KJS Print to Mail Services Ltd Loyalty
Lead Forensics Maginus Software Solutions
LeaseWeb BV Mail Order Systems
Liana Technologies Marketing Data Matters
Limelight Marketing Databasics
Linkshare Maximizer Software
m62 visualcommunications Media Hut
Mailvivo Mediaco
Maps4Mail Mercator Research Group
Mardev – DM2 Microdata Corporation
Market Location Microsoft Business Solutions
Marketing Evolved Minotaur
Marketo Inc Mitre House Publishing
MediaCo Mtracking
Mint Noetica
MMC Learning NOMIS OneSource Information Services Overture
Neolane Pivotal Corporation
NewsReach Powershot – Colony 101
Net Solutions Practique
North Plains Primus
Oakley Global Business Solutions ProClarity
OHHI Prophit Share
Online Marketing Institute Pythagoras Communications
ON24 QAS Systems
Orville Media QIC Systems
OutSphere Quality System Solution
PacNet Services Quest Media
Pardot Real Media
Parker Software Ltd Roicast
PCS Limited Sanderson
Periscopix Satori Software
Private Label Nutraceuticals SDS Spatial Data Services
Pro-Active Business Information SIA
Productive Similarity Systems
PSCo Limited SmartFOCUS
Pure360 SmartPath
Qbase Spot4Web
QuizTiger SPSS (UK)
Rakuten LinkShare Talisma
Readz The Usability Company
Research Now Then UK
Response Tap TMG Hypermedia
Sage CRM Solutions Top-Pile.Com
SDL Touchstone
Senscraft Ltd TradeDoubler
SEO Desk UK Changes
SEO Junkies Unica Corporation
Silverpop VerseOne Technologies
Silverstream TV Limited. Vivid Interface
Simpleshow WapMX
Sitecore WebEx Communications
Siteimprove Weboptimiser
SoftLayer Technologies Website Results
Squiz Wilson Publications
Syntec Wireless Information Network
Tag Commander Wizard Systems
TagMan Ltd. Xpedite Systems
Talking Print Ltd
target360 Marketing Automation & CRM Software
Testify Digital Limited
Vertical Leap
VideoTrends Limited
We Are Direct Mail
Web Usability Partnership
Zoho Corporation Private Ltd
2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2013 12:22 pm

    Following on from my rant above, I am delighted to say I’ve just found an example of very ‘clear messaging’ on the subject of ‘Technology for Marketing’ …

    Not a CEM, WEM, CXM acronym in sight 🙂

    Well done IBM !

  2. March 7, 2013 11:38 am

    And just to enforce the view that confusing ‘vapourware’ does the TFM industry no favours, here is an excellent piece from CMS Wire …

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