Salesforce’s ExactTarget Marketing Cloud combines Radian6 and Buddy Media into the Social Studio

The Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio is an inevitable step towards consolidation and single-source management of the customer relationship/experience.

Salesforce.com’s ExactTarget Marketing Cloud unit has combined Radian6 and Buddy Media into a single offering called Social Studio.

Consolidating these social tools allows the company to sell a one-stop social solution, reflecting a maturing market on the client side where most companies have gotten their social media management (organization, process, and now tools) in order.

ExactTarget can now consolidate its focus on winning marketshare on a bigger stage: marketing, inclusive of social media. Over the past five years, social media has been a catalyst driving technology innovation and marketing opportunity. Now that most brands have figured out where to play and how to win in social, the focus returns to the big picture and bigger budgets.

The Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio offers everything a brand requires to manage social media: collaborative workspaces, calendars and workflow, multi-platform publishing, listening, and content analytics. I expect the offering to compete primarily against Oracle’s Social Cloud, Sprinklr SxM, and Adobe Social. However, the ExactTarget, Adobe, and Oracle solutions are parts of larger marketing  clouds and enterprise platforms, which can help open doors to the larger budgets of the CIO and influence of the CMO, beyond the scrappy social media team that exists at many brands.

The Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud
The Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud

Brands will be increasingly offered incentives to commit to a single vendor’s marketing cloud and must weigh the benefits and discount of a single solution versus the risk and cost of self-integrating best-in-class point solutions. Very few brands operate entirely under a single vendor’s cloud today and this is a zero-sum game. For example, JetBlue is referenced as using Radian6 Buddy Media social studio and last week JetBlue was referenced as a Responsys customer. What happens next? Does JetBlue convert to the entire Oracle Marketing Cloud, ditch Responsys for ExactTarget, or continue to operate different tools in what appears to be different silos of the organization? Most brands are going to be asking themselves similar questions over the months ahead.

Challenger brands may believe that “you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best.” However, the market is clearly heading in a direction that values the ability to deliver on a truly customer-centric perspective. Adobe’s Marketing Cloud has a master marketing profile and Oracle’s Marketing Cloud has a universal customer profile.  Brands need a single perspective on the customer across the entirety of MARKETING, not just social media. Ultimately the large marketing clouds will win while incorporating innovative features from smaller startup vendors. Although the product name is a mouthful, the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio is an inevitable step towards consolidation and single-source management of the customer relationship/experience.

Oracle launches the Oracle Marketing Cloud

Yesterday Oracle formally announced the launch of the Oracle Marketing Cloud.

If you’ve been watching the industry, you may be wondering “didn’t they already have a marketing cloud?” They’ve had all of the pieces, yes. Before yesterday there was an Oracle Social Cloud comprised of the solutions formerly known as Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. And the company had other marketing solutions including Eloqua, Responsys, Compendium, and BlueKai. As of yesterday, those pieces are now formally brought together as a single solution:

Oracle Marketing Cloud
Oracle’s POV on its marketing cloud positioning (Source: Oracle)

This launch matters in the context of Oracle’s overall go-to-market and here’s what matters:

1) Potential for revenue growth.

Oracle is a $40 billion company. According to President Mark Hurd, the marketing cloud gives Oracle an application to sell in to a new audience: the marketing department. The market for enterprise applications is dominated by a handful of heavyweight contenders including SAP, Oracle, and IBM. All three of these firms are interested in leveraging their longstanding CIO/CTO relationships to connect with the CMO and become the enterprise system of record. The Marketing Cloud business is worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” modeled as annual recurring revenue and selling in to complement financials, operations, and other systems would be a strong source of revenue growth for the company. But Oracle can’t walk into a CMO’s offer with a menagerie of acquired point solutions — the single Marketing Cloud product allows sales to offer an enterprise-level platform.

2) Integration will make or break the Cloud.

Marketing Cloud General Manager Kevin Akeroyd stated the critical success factor in the near-term competitive landscape: “anyone with access to capital can acquire companies, but whoever integrates best will win.” This requires integration of code in order to facilitate data sharing between solutions; in Oracle’s case, it offers a Universal Customer Profile as the customer-centric backbone of its systems. Moreover, change management is just as important in ensuring post-merger integration success and the Oracle teams cite a high retention rate of management from Vitrue and other firms indicating positive results.

3) There’s something missing.

Oracle openly acknowledges there’s additional work to be completed in building out the Marketing Cloud solution. Although AppCloud offers connections to a wide variety of point solutions, Oracle still needs a tightly integrated solution to deliver on the need for marketing metrics tied to business objectives. And not just social media measurement or web analytics — marketers need customer-focused omnichannel metrics with proper attribution to understand campaign performance.

Final thought: social becoming increasingly siloed

It’s interesting to see Oracle’s Social Cloud subsumed by the larger Marketing Cloud. While social media had its heyday and undoubtedly plays an important role in customer engagement strategy, it’s ultimately just one element in the larger marketing picture. Over the course of this year, look for the word “social” to disappear from product offerings and marketer lexicons, just as “.com” disappeared from company names and logos once brands discovered that digital business is really just “business.”

In the other direction, the cloud competition is becoming increasingly expansive and the stakes can’t get much higher. James Bond fans might remember the video game that Sean Connery plays in Never Say Never Again called “Domination,” that delivers electric shocks to the loser. Except in this case the price of defeat is going to cost a lot more than $267,000.

Sprinklr’s $40M Series D round: what matters

The paid solution brings Sprinklr up to par with larger marketing clouds, but their latest lead investor and total amount raised are what’s most intriguing.

This morning, Sprinklr made a two part announcement.

1) The availability of an integrated paid social media solution.

This capability allows Sprinklr clients to manage owned media (publishing), earned media (via listening/engagement), and now paid media (social advertising).

Sprinklr will claim competitive advantage in offering a single integrated data model vs. apps in parallel (Adobe), UX overlay (Salesforce), or API partners (Oracle).

Sprinklr competitive advantage
Sprinklr’s take on “depth of software integration” and how that leads to competitive advantage.

In theory, tighter integration can offer more powerful data analysis capabilities. In practice, Sprinklr cites an unnamed client that saw a 25% lift in paid social ad performance from using the module.

My take:

The “big three” marketing clouds already offer paid social ad creation, placement, measurement, and optimization: Adobe’s Media Optimizer, Salesforce’s Social.com, and Oracle via API partners Kenshoo, Nanigans, and SHIFT. This added capability brings Sprinklr up to par with bigger players in social media management functionality and just in time as paid social gains increasing priority in the paid/earned/owned media landscape.

2) A $40 million Series D financing round led by Iconiq Capital

This round brings Sprinklr’s total capital raised to $77.5 million. Sprinklr’s previous three funding rounds only had two participants: Battery Ventures and Intel Capital. But Iconiq Capital isn’t a venture capital company; it’s a registered investment advisor (RIA).

My take:

This is an interesting lead investor, especially for the social media space in which Sprinklr currently operates. Unlike VC funds that typically get passive investments from pension funds and insurance companies, Iconiq handles the private, personal investments of individual clients including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sean Parker, among others. Investors like to smooth the road ahead for their investment vehicles and those are three pretty powerful operators to have on your side.

Sprinklr tells me that they intend to use the round for “growth.” This can only mean organic expansion, because the round isn’t big enough to start acquiring pieces to build a complete marketing cloud (e.g. a marketing automation solution).

What Sprinklr’s annoucement means

Valuations typically aren’t disclosed, but Sprinklr undoubtedly has its sights set on joining The Unicorn Club and potentially filing for an IPO between now and 2015. The alternate route would require a bigger player stepping in to acquire Sprinklr, which is becoming an increasingly expensive proposition (but still no big deal for the deep pockets of an IBM, SAP, or Microsoft). Sprinklr’s preference would appear to be the former, as it has shown an inclination to build (e.g. listening and paid social) rather than buy (the exception being Dachis Group which provided some code and mostly developers).

Bigger vendors must evaluate the growing threat that Sprinklr poses to the early market-leading clouds. Smaller vendors need to bulk up or get bought out soon, before going the way of Argyle Social.  Clients/end-users need to evaluate their marketing technology stack and decide whether running a collection of best-in-breed point solutions still makes sense or if committing to a larger integrated cloud now will pay bigger future dividends.

Endgame: Social Business Platforms

Three early social business platform leaders are emerging (Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce), while point solutions will continue to struggle and consolidate over 2014.

The news started trickling out late last week that Google is freezing support for social media management solution Wildfire in order to integrate more closely with DoubleClick. The company’s official statement says that they “won’t be building new features or signing up new customers” and current customers and competitors know what this means — there are suddenly dozens of brands and agencies looking for alternative social business platforms.

What U Choose Is What U Get - same goes for social business platforms

As an analyst at Constellation Research, I’m ramping up my marketing technology coverage and see a familiar pattern emerging as the social business software market matures. We’ve evolved well beyond the early days of the The Stack first identified by Jeremiah Owyang and now point solutions — which received all the early attention — are yielding to platforms.

My early take is that a “big three” have a headstart as the leading social business platforms:

  • Adobe (Marketing Cloud),
  • Oracle (Social Cloud), and
  • Salesforce (Marketing Cloud).

Each of the “big three” platforms acquired a standalone Social Media Management System (SMMS): Context Optional (now Adobe), Vitrue (now Oracle), and Buddy Media (now Salesforce), and Google + Wildfire, integrating with other social technologies to offer a multi-faceted value proposition. But buyer beware: websites and logos are easy to create; integrating multiple solutions to deliver a fully functioning unified platform takes a lot of time and effort.

Remaining standalone SMMS players have rebranded the space as Social Relationship Platforms (SRP) and include Spredfast, Hootsuite, Expion, and Sprinklr. Some have started to expand capabilities (e.g. Sprinklr has added listening and Expion has added advocacy) and some clients still want point solutions, but it’s clear that these players need to get big fast or find their way to an exit before they end up like Syncapse. It appears that they may be heading in that direction: as Forrester’s Nate Elliott recently found out, most SRP clients aren’t willing to recommend their vendor to a colleague.

In fact, I see SRPs on a path similar to brand monitoring providers. Their solutions gained a lot of attention in 2006 and I wrote the first Forrester Wave on these vendors. Here’s the current status of those original leaders:

  • Nielsen Buzzmetrics: went private, JV with McKinsey, shut down.
  • TNS Cymfony: acquired by Visible Technologies
  • Umbria: acquired by J.D. Power
  • Biz360: acquired by Attensity
  • Factiva: integrated into Dow Jones
  • Brandimensions: pivoted into anti-fraud
  • MotiveQuest: still standalone (!)

Even after rebranding as “listening platforms,” the market made clear that listening is a feature, not a product. Increasingly, publishing / social media management / social relationship management is turning out to also be a feature, not a product.

My take: the big three have the early lead in the competition to own the social business platform market, but we are in the early innings of the game. Standalone vendors will add features as rapidly as possible in order to stay competitive, and some categories originally thought to be independently viable — like enterprise social networks — will turn out to be nothing more than bundled feature sets as well.

I’ll write more to define social business platforms in upcoming weeks, including user case studies, vendor profiles, and technology evaluations. Stay tuned.