Larry's Christmas tradition - buy yourself a marketing cloud!

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan December 19, 2013
Larry Ellison seems to have a new holiday tradition. Last year he snapped up Eloqua. This year's indulgence is Responsys, a purchase that plugs some interesting gaps in Oracle's Marketing Cloud ambitions.

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Larry's holiday present to himself.

One last roll of the marketing cloud dice before the year end then with Oracle’s decision to acquire Responsys for $1.5 billion with an eye to capturing the attention of the B2C CMO.

It’s getting to be a Christmas tradition for Oracle: it was a year ago today that the firm swooped on Eloqua!

The rationale for the latest takeover is outlined by Oracle thus:

CMOs and marketing organizations now have a greater responsibility for driving the customer relationship than ever before, however orchestrating interaction across touch points has become complex. Interactions need to take place through more channels, across email, web, mobile, social, display and commerce.

As consumers move seamlessly among channels and devices over time, companies need to interact when, where, and how, based on consumer preferences. At the same time, marketers are being charged with demonstrating the ROI on their marketing investments and need to have the tools to measure marketing performance across channels and at each step of the way.

Responsys is the leading provider of enterprise-scale cloud-based B2C marketing software to manage and orchestrate interactions with consumers across email, mobile, social, display and the web – driving more revenue and improving the customer experience at every interaction.

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The Oracle vision (source: Oracle)

In an open letter to customers, Oracle Development EVP Thomas Kurian and SVP for the Oracle Marketing Cloud Kevin Akeroyd, state:

Responsys is used by the most respected business to consumer brands across the globe to manage and orchestrate marketing interactions with their customers across email, mobile, social, display and the web. More than 450 companies across a wide range of industries rely on Responsys to drive more revenue and improve the customer experience at every interaction.

The addition of Responsys will extend Oracle's Customer Experience Cloud, which includes the Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Commerce Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle Social Cloud and the Oracle Marketing Cloud. By bringing together Responsys and Oracle Eloqua in the Marketing Cloud, for the first time CMOs that support industries with B2C or B2B business models will be equipped to drive exceptional customer experiences across marketing interactions and throughout the customer lifecycle from a single platform.

A third party take

Forrester Research last week issued a report entitled The Rise of the Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Systems in which it profiles 12 leading customer life-cycle marketing vendors and addresses the fragmentation of the customer journey due to the growth of digital channels, platforms and content.

In the report, the research house argues the CMOs will find the whole of a CLCMS to be greater than the sum of its parts:
CMOs will need to press vendors to demonstrate the additional value a platform can provide versus the best-of-breed solutions that may already be in place.

The onus will be on these vendors to show how their broad remit increases productivity and lessens the silos of pain, while delivering more visibility into which programs work and why.

It goes to on suggest that the vendor community will need to adapt existing approaches from a funnel-based dynamic into a process that is managed as a CLC. This will call for them to focus on three things:

  • Vision. "Vendors with clear adherence to the CLC vision are more likely to provide the technology architecture CMOs need versus those that remain aligned to the marketing funnel. Firms like Adobe, Oracle, and have launched marketing clouds, signifying intent in that direction."
  • Progress. "Some vendors are closer than others at achieving CLCMS status, due to a strong existing set of tools and a compelling and actionable vision for the system. Vendors will need to audit their strategy, technology, pricing, and marketing against the CLCMS vision to assess their current position and then create a development plan for the next 24 months."
  • Product strategy. "We expect that a handful of vendors will make significant strides in the following two years to deliver a CLCMS. These vendors will use their product development and acquisition strategies to fill in their current gaps as a CLCMS and make integration a top priority for all new capabilities."

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Source: Forrester

Of Responsys, Forrester says it has:

a compelling vision for where marketing -- and the company -- is headed: It calls it 'marketing orchestration. Clients hold the company in high regard as a partner and are enthusiastic about where the company is taking the platform.

That is what Oracle is buying. Responsys potentially fills a gap identified by Forrester:

Oracle has many pieces of the marketing technology spectrum at its disposal as a result of Oracle’s traditional business assets and the acquisition of Eloqua to form the Oracle Marketing Cloud. However, it is unclear how much progress has been made toward integrating the pieces, and it needs that clarity to prove itself as a CLCMS contender.

Meanwhile Responsys own shortcomings may be addressed by Oracle’s data management heritage and the firm will benefit from its acquirer’s scale:

Responsys’ strength and growth in campaign management makes it stand out, but the offer lacks some important operational and data capabilities of the bigger CLCMS aspirers.

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We started 2013 with the expectation that this would be the year of the Marketing Cloud and that’s exactly how it’s turned out.

With Gartner’s by now somewhat cliched argument that the CMO is to the be new IT decision making powerhouse in large enterprises still resonating with providers, Oracle’s latest gambit fleshes out its capabilities in the massive B2C market place.

It also beefs up Oracle’s CMO arsenal against the threat from 2013’s BFF Salesforce, which in turn needs to deliver on its plans to use the ExactTarget acquisition and the recently announced Salesforce1 platform to link the Service Cloud with the Marketing Cloud campaign functionality.

Any expectation that we’d be moving on from the Marketing Cloud rhetoric in 2014 can be now be assigned to the status of an early broken New Year's resolution.

Disclosure: at time of writing, Oracle and are both premier partners of diginomica.