TFM(&A) 2003 to 2013 – a big lesson in confusion marketing
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”
I’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.
|TFM&A Exhibitors 2013||TFM Exhibitors 2003|
|360 Imagery||ActivePower Business Systems|
|Absolute Digital Media||Acxiom UK|
|Ad Dynamo Europe||Advice Centre hosted by i-CE/HSC|
|Agile CI||Angoss Software|
|Apache Solutions Ltd||Apteco|
|Apteco||Arc en Ciel|
|Blueberry Marketing Solutions||Bluestreak|
|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|
|Bulk SMS||Care Business Solutions|
|Bureau van Dijk||Catan Marketing Limited|
|C2 Software||CDMS Solutions|
|Celsius International||CIM Tech|
|Channel Merchandise||Cintra-Brand Asset Management|
|Click Consult||Claritas UK|
|Clickwork7 Affiliate Network||Client Technologies|
|CLS Communication Ltd||CMP PR Audit|
|Coast Digital||Commence Countdown|
|Commission Junction||Cyrane Systems|
|Corpdata Ltd||DeHavilland Information Services|
|Corporate Rewards||Digital Impact|
|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|
|EDATIS UK LTD||EHS Brann|
|Emailmovers||EuroDirect Database Marketing|
|Engineered Arts||FD Systems|
|ExactTarget||GMAP Consulting (Eurodirect)|
|Experian Marketing Services||HCCM Systems|
|Fast Web Media||Hopewiser|
|Focus Integrated Marketing Communications||Hurst MailAgent|
|Fotolia LLC||Hybyte Solutions and Services|
|Global Marketing Alliance||Identex|
|Hotel Chocolat Ltd||Institute Of Customer Service|
|IGO-POST||Institute of Professional Sales|
|Inspiring Interns Limited||ISM Sales Simulator|
|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|
|m62 visualcommunications||Media Hut|
|Maps4Mail||Mercator Research Group|
|Mardev – DM2||Microdata Corporation|
|Market Location||Microsoft Business Solutions|
|Marketo Inc||Mitre House Publishing|
|Mycustomer.com||OneSource Information Services|
|NewsReach||Powershot – Colony 101|
|Oakley Global Business Solutions||ProClarity|
|Online Marketing Institute||Pythagoras Communications|
|Orville Media||QIC Systems|
|OutSphere||Quality System Solution|
|PacNet Services||Quest Media|
|Parker Software Ltd||Roicast|
|Private Label Nutraceuticals||SDS Spatial Data Services|
|Pro-Active Business Information||SIA|
|Readz||The Usability Company|
|Research Now||Then UK|
|Response Tap||TMG Hypermedia|
|Sage CRM Solutions||Top-Pile.Com|
|SEO Desk||UK Changes|
|SEO Junkies||Unica Corporation|
|Silverstream TV Limited.||Vivid Interface|
|SoftLayer Technologies||Website Results|
|Syntec||Wireless Information Network|
|Tag Commander||Wizard Systems|
|TagMan Ltd.||Xpedite Systems|
|Talking Print Ltd|
|target360 Marketing Automation & CRM Software|
|Testify Digital Limited|
|We Are Direct Mail|
|Web Usability Partnership|
|Zoho Corporation Private Ltd|