Monday, April 09, 2007

Mobile Marketing Systems Can't Stand Alone For Long

My recent exploration of mobile marketing systems left me wondering whether why the enterprise marketing systems have not jumped to service this market. By “enterprise marketing” vendors, I mean Unica, SAS, Teradata, Alterian, SmartFocus and the like. Their products can already create messages in SMS and (presumably) other mobile formats. But so far as I know, they lack the advanced mobile capabilities for ad serving, voting and polling, downloads such as ring tones, and user-initiated content uploads. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to add such features through alliances or purchase of a mobile marketing specialist. No doubt this will happen: they all added email in a similar fashion when it became important.

But these vendors’ priorities have clearly been elsewhere. They have been competing based on advanced analytics including segmentation, scoring and optimization; marketing administration including budgeting, project management and content libraries; marketing performance measurement; and specialized operational features such as distributed access and lead management. What these features share is that they support activities across many channels. Providing the most advanced features in a single channel, such as mobile, has not been the vendors’ goal.

You’ll immediately recognize this as the classic strategy of integrated suite vendors seeking to overwhelm best-of-breed specialists. Over time, the integrated products tend to win, although they are always threatened by still bigger fish: in the case of the customer management vendors, these would be enterprise software vendors like Oracle, SAP, and perhaps Infor.

It’s hard to see how the mobile marketing vendors can survive once mobile marketing attracts the attention of the enterprise marketing management systems. The mobile vendors already are trespassing on enterprise marketing turf by setting up their own functions for permissions tracking, campaign definition, customer profiles, real time interactions, and content management—capabilities needed to execute mobile marketing projects, but which really should belong in an enterprise system that can share them across multiple channels. Right now, mobile marketing is new enough that the specialist vendors’ unique expertise can justify working with them independently. But this is a very temporary situation. As mobile marketing becomes more widely understood, it will be assimilated into other marketing activities and the specialized systems will vanish.

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