calvin-chin-1929-unsplashRealizing the value of marketing systems often requires customer data from diverse touchpoints, and it has been a busy year for the data that fuels effective marketing experiences.

Yet a persistent challenge is to populate individual cloud applications with customer data that powers operational, personalization, service, and analytic use cases.  Modern sales, service, commerce, and marketing require integrations – and the diversity of products used by enterprises and divisions each require connected data to pay off the value of the platform. When vendors grow through acquisition and partnerships, the holes in cross-cloud integration required the enterprise to do much of the work.

Adobe and Microsoft earlier this year announced the Experience Data Model, to create a standard for marketing and IT solutions within the Adobe stack, and promising that using the data model would make data usable across the Adobe Experience Cloud.  This initiative took a step further with the recent announcement of The Open Data Initiative, to include new partner SAP in the collaboration.  

Announcements at Dreamforce 2018 show what Salesforce as a company has accomplished after its acquisitions of Mulesoft and Datorama earlier this year.   In Customer360, Salesforce strikes a tone similar to Adobe, in improving the cross-cloud connectivity and linkages for customer data.  A cross-cloud pipeline is now something both vendors can crow-about: powering the ability for brands with multiple products to connect data about individuals to enable better service, relevant offers, and personalized content.  

This year Adobe, SAP, and IBM have made major announcements of both products and ambitious roadmap items in Artificial Intelligence for Marketing.  As Artificial Intelligence for Marketing becomes a bigger influence on the development of marketing campaigns, Salesforce introduced multiple new applications of Einstein AI  from Audience affinity analysis in Salesforce DMP and next-best-action selection in Interaction Studio, to recommendations and voice integration within Sales Cloud. Building on top of the Customer360 integration, Salesforce Einstein can ingest, analyze and deliver new features to connected applications.  

While a major trend this year has been the appeal of the customer data platform for marketers seeking best-of-breed approaches to the martech stack,  the unified data within Salesforce applications is a reasonable counterweight to this concept for brands seeking an integrated suite, particularly if unlocking AI capabilities will become easier or better-supported.  For more on the rise of Data as a precursor to AI in Marketing, see Creating an Autonomous Marketing Future through Data and Integration.

Salesforce  also addressed the issue of data-driven enablement, which was a major trend uncovered in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs (Gartner Sub required).  Adobe announced its “Experience League” and championed the idea that Adobe users could all become “Experience Makers.”  Salesforce showcased “TrailBlazers” throughout, as well with emphasis on the Trailhead enablement community and the new skills that marketers can demonstrate and develop within.  In the product, Salesforce aims to verticalize and speed adoption with specific feature sets tuned to the needs of particular industries such as Retail or Travel.  For enterprises struggling with cross channel marketing and automation, such as using web behavior to inform marketing and service communications, expect a faster time to value by leveraging Blueprints, which will be bundled with Customer 360.  

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