The news of the Oracle’s $400M acquisition of BlueKai this week made headlines for several reasons – continuing industry consolidation, acknowledgment of the power of prospect and customer data in the marketing process, big data meets marketing, Oracle’s march to dominate all things marketing cloud, and Larry Ellison shenanigans always make good headlines. All viable and interesting angles.
As I reflect on this move, I see a few big beacons shining a spotlight on the road ahead:
A bet that “those companies with the data,” or at least those helping customers acquire data, win or at least get invited to more auditions (aka customer opportunities)
A bet that mastering personalization will improve customer experience
A bet that connecting media-driven prospect data and marketing systems and integrating that data into the marketing/sales process will yield much better results
You can definitely ask tough questions, such as: Will cookie data be viable or valuable in the coming years? Is such data actionable or intelligent enough to make a material difference in marketing and customer results? And the obvious ones about culture fit: Will BlueKai be able to integrate into big company culture and continue to innovative in order to deliver on the big data promise? All fair questions. What is very, very hard to refute is that there is no stopping these trends.
CMOs and marketers are using and need data (big and small) to take the lead role in acquiring prospects and creating happy, loyal customers. The ability to correlate a company’s first-party data to third-party prospect data gathered from across the web holds great promise, even at these early stages of data technology. World-class brands like JetBlue, Disney and HP are all on the journey and showcasing the possibilities.
What has to improve is the personalization effort that this big data drives. It’ll be interesting to see what Oracle does to connect with their powerful database, business intelligence (BI) and marketing automation (Eloqua) engines. We’re very early in this process of deploying accurate cross-channel data across customer and media platforms. The call to arms for all CMOs and marketers is to get started now, because it’ll be a long process for us to learn how to effectively use data and for the technology to mature.
I have this conversation and crystal ball session with my marketing executive colleagues and customers nearly every day. I’m also moderating a panel on “Big Data and Marketing” at the upcoming Digital Summit in Phoenix on April 1. A good place to probe deeper on this “data” thing and continue the conversation. Most importantly, drop me a note at @ScottAVaughan if you have any questions or topics to explore with the marketing pros on my panel or to share your views.