Bill Gassman

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Bill Gassman
Research Director
15 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Bill Gassman specializes in helping marketing leaders manage, measure and optimize their Web, mobile, social and search marketing programs. For more than 15 years, he has advised marketing teams on how to use technology ... Read Full Bio

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Digital Marketing Platforms and Universal Remotes

by Bill Gassman  |  September 28, 2012  |  1 Comment

The term “digital marketing platform” is being thrown around by a number of providers as a universal solution for tool chaos. The benefit, we are told, is better productivity brought by an integrated set of marketing functions. There is a lot to be said for the concept. With a common user interface, common data model and engineered integration points, marketers should be able to perform their tasks seamlessly and more efficiently.

The concept is great. I cheer on the providers that are investing in building integrated platforms and marketing departments that buy into them. Some day, we may get to the point that the promise is realized. But, that day is not today and still seems to be a long way off. My favorite leading indicator to predict the era of true digital marketing platforms is near; is to see one, and only one, universal remote on my coffee table.

How many remote controls do you have on your coffee table? I’m writing to a technical crowd, so there are bound to be a few of you that own a $300 Sony or Logitech programmable remote. But, I’ve heard that it is difficult to get everyone in the household to use them. The programmer of the remote knows the tricks, so ends up being in control of the media. The result is governance and control rather than universal use. Perhaps this is the secret to winning battles over who drives the remote.

In my case, there are several “universal remotes” retired to my electronics junk box in the basement. I’m down to four remotes from needing six not too long ago. Getting an internet ready TV helped there, but my cable box, stereo and DVD player each have a few functions that can only be handled by the remote that came with it, even though my other two remotes claim to be multi-function.

Home media is a lot less complicated that Digital Marketing. When the universal remote problem is truly solved on my coffee table, then I’ll start believing that the universal concept might apply to complex business problems.

There is nothing wrong with buying into a Digital Marketing Platform. Just don’t expect it to solve all your marketing problems or be easy enough to use by everyone in the marketing organization. For the foreseeable future, at least until you have a truly universal remote on your coffee table, you will be using multiple marketing tools with overlapping functions and it will be messy to integrate data when you want to automate processes.

What is your approach to handling tool chaos and if you comment, let us know how many remote controls are on your coffee table.

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