Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes doesn’t think marketing clouds are great for enterprises

With Silverpop recently getting acquired by IBM, and Marketo offering new features to its platform, the marketing automation space has never been hotter. Salesforce snapped up ExactTarget, Oracle bought both Eloqua and Responsys, and Adobe has Neolane, leaving very few enterprise marketing automation vendors left in the space. Marketing automation software forms the core of the integrated marketing cloud solution that all the big legacy software firms are racing to bring to the market. However, not everyone thinks a one-stop solution is the answer for all the digital marketing needs of a company.

Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes, who’s firm recently partnered with Marketo to offer social media lead generation capabilities is making the case for open-platforms that integrate with other software, instead of a single suite that offers everything.

Here are a few excerpts from the blog post he wrote on the subject.

On why everyone’s buying marketing automation platforms:

…First: changing consumer habits. Social media ushered in a new era of intimate, personalized marketing. Not surprisingly, consumers have grown less receptive to traditional “spray and pray” mass marketing. (Case in point: When 61,000 people were surveyed earlier this year by Forrester, fewer than a quarter said they trust email from companies.) To this end, the latest generation of marketing automation software is finding creative ways to bridge the gap: applying the intimacy, personalization and insights gained from social media on a mass scale…

On the downside of having an integrated marketing cloud:

…The “ultimate marketing suite” is always going to have weak links. No single vendor can hope to offer best-in-class social media tools, data analytics, customer relationship management, marketing automation, etc. all in a single package. The technology is simply too fluid and the scope too vast for any one suite to represent a definitive solution. Some pieces of the suite will be strong; others will be weak. But you’re stuck with them all…

…Clients who opt for all-in-one clouds or suites are bound to end up with a few clunkers in the mix. In this environment, the few remaining open platforms – which provide an ecosystem where different tools can compete and rise to the top – are the best bet of all…

On why open platforms (such as Hootsuite) are a better buy for companies:

..Clients aren’t locked into a single, defined suite of services; instead, they can incorporate the tools they are already using and familiar with into the HootSuite platform. This includes everything from Marketo’s marketing automation tool and customer experience apps from Nimble and SugarCRM to project management software like Trello, analytics utilities like Statigram, social networks like YouTube and Instagram, and more. The ecosystem is exhaustive, not exclusive: If there’s a best-of-class tool out there, HootSuite finds a way to work with it…

Of course one needs to remember that Holmes is pushing his own agenda by advocating open source platforms such as Hootsuite. However, he does have a point about companies getting locked in when they sign on for the entire marketing cloud suite offered by someone like Salesforce or Adobe. Those companies will counter that since they offer the best-in-breed solutions for all digital marketing categories, it’s in the enterprise’s interest to use their integrated suite. It’s still too early to evaluate the value they are offering since the marketing clouds haven’t reached full integration yet. Till then, open platforms may just be the way to go.

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