As the year ends, a lot gets written on what worked and what did not work through the year and more interestingly “predictions” for what’s going to follow. As we kick start our digital & marketing efforts for 2013, a lot of expectations have been set around innovation & expansion of key marketing trends:
- Big Data Adoption
- Continuous growth of Mobile adoption – mobile web, apps & AR
- Digital coupons
- Increasing role of content strategy
- TV and what Apple is going to do with its launch – a lift for conventional media
- CMO vs CIO – stronger friends or foes
- Real time media buying patterns
- The next series of acquisitions – big fish & small fish
- and of course everything that we are witnessing this week @ CES
While the marketing ecosystem expands to new levels of maturity & innovation in these different directions, I personally feel there is a strong need now for all of these somewhat “dis-jointed” capabilities and marketing technologies to come together as an integrated, cohesive and well-orchestrated underlying machinery — I call it the Marketing Operating System, an mOS as I shared it in my blog Think Beyond | Time for mOS – Marketing Operating System aka iOS?.
Want to use this blog to dive a bit deeper and share my thoughts on what an mOS may look like and what opportunities lie ahead of us. To best understand what this holistic marketing platform means, we should look at the evolution of mobile from a bulky & heavy call making device in 1995 to 2007 which could arguably be termed as not only a turning point in the mobile industry but for digital as a whole and to now in 2013 where the smart phone gets smarter each day.
They evolved from phone making using keypads to touch screens in 2000 & cameras and enough memory to store some music until APPLE changed everything. HOW? By launching the first phone with an Operating System, the iOS and it “CONSOLIDARTED” all needed capabilities expected from a mobile device BUT at the same time provided an OPEN FRAMEWORK and a defined standard for pretty much ANYONE to build some most innovative and creative applications and experiences for end users. Rest is history and its still being made every second.
mOS – Marketing Operating System
We are going through the same evolution – just that we are in the 1990 phase of the mobile era. Why do I say that? This is what our landscape looks like today (courtesy Scott Brinker chiefmaretc.com)
A highly diversified and innovative set of technologies, products and platforms BUT who amongst the leading providers or consumers of these technologies have been able to really connect all of these into something totally meaningful? Yes Big Data was the new kid on the block in 2012, lot written, shared and developed around Hadoop and other technologies but how many organizations have been able to weave a Big Data strategy into their commercial, marketing, media & cross channel efforts and have it all inter-connected, with their past analysis leads them to a real time optimization of their current spend and helps them predict their future investments and strategies.
It’s time to move away from SELLING AND BUYING SPARE PARTS:
TO BUILDING AND SELLING ASSEMBLED & FULLY FUNCTIONAL CARS, at least a base version to begin with and let the consumer add accessories to enhance the experience WITHOUT worrying about the core assembling process.
This is where these 4 players can play an important role (OASI):
They could be the Apple, Google & Microsoft for the marketing world and if the acquisition patterns are anything to go by, they seem to be heading in that direction. Of course acquiring companies and integrating their solution is a totally separate beast but these are initial steps. What they offer today are pieces of a connected ecosystem that may look somewhat like this, of course these are only a few elements of the overall landscape but it’s an assembled working unit instead of isolated individual capabilities.
Needless to say, the consolidation of these platforms & technologies cannot restrict creativity and diversity of experiences and strategies. Technology cannot obstruct creativity and that’s where a platform like an iOS is a perfect example where it provides the stability and consolidation of everything you could expect in a smartphone but still provides the flexibility to develop creative experiences using the standards & open framework.
Few Guidelines & Key Notes for mOS
- The OS comes with all key fundamental components needed to “Market in a Digital World” – everything from Marketing Automation on top of an enterprise CRM to a Web Experience Platform, eCommerce capabilities to win both in D2C and B2C or B2B and the content could be delivered across any channel and devices
- The hooks and integration between these components pre-exist, it can be configured but probably not customized, any customizations can be achieved through the Open Framework
- It allows extensions, custom applications to be built on top – for instance, a new provider could come up with a KIOSK plug-in based on the standards & open framework available within the OS, may possibly have to use an SDK very similar to an iOS & Android platform. Once the custom applications are built, they can simply be hooked and plugged in on top of the OS – no custom integration needed from a consumer standpoint
- The OS gives a starting point – does not limit or restrict flexibility. There may be some boundaries since the integrations and core components are pre-defined
- It should be flexible and scalable enough to support a SaaS, PaaS or IaaS based models based on the needs of the consumer
- It is really a translation of a complex environment into a commoditized but flexible platform
What does this mean for Organizations & Brands?
- Organizations do not have to buy SW & technology stack separately and bring a digital agency or a system integrator to put the pieces of the puzzle together
- They would still need a service provider to add more capabilities, custom applications aka mobile apps
- They get a more advanced turn key solution (nothing is completely turn key but a more complete solution)
- They get all the fundamentals to run their digital & marketing strategies
What does this mean for Platform & Service Providers?
- Need to look at all the building blocks holistically, move away from siloed excellence and move towards an integrated mindset
- If you are a platform and product company, create a services arm to support the custom applications, open up your platform to developers and other smaller shops
- Stay on top of innovation and have a strong product and platform strategy to add more components to the core platform and OS, making it easier for the consumers of the platform to evolve their capabilities.
Bottom Line — Whether we have an mOS in the near future or not, it’s tough to predict but one thing is for sure, the next few years will continue to see a gradual consolidation of core capabilities and technologies, a number of acquisitions and mergers and a realization to HIDE TECHNOLOGY, use it as an enabler, as a means and not as an end.