The Thursday Stack: Taking Action in the Moment

Only 4,000 attendees, wandering the endless halls of the Mandalay Bay Hotel?  That’s all?  I’m betting on Adobe and Marketo bringing double that to their summit at the Venetian next week.  Yes, it’s Vegas season again.

But then I remembered, this isn’t OpenWorld. This isn’t Oracle’s main event. It’s the customer experience side only: the Modern Customer Experience as it’s billed. The skies were grey, but the conference shone a bright light on the central question of data unity — all the information about every customer, in one place, and in immediately actionable form. It’s the nut everyone is trying to crack, of course: SAP with C/4 Hana, Adobe with its Experience System of Record, but Oracle isn’t bashful about claiming better data chops. “We’ve been in the data business for 40 years. That doesn’t make us old, it makes us experts,” said Oracle CX GM Rob Tarkoff, formerly CEO of Lithium (which is now Khoros).>

My earlier report delves into Oracle’s data plan for the entire CX suite, to be rolled out over the next couple of years under the name CX Unity.

But that wasn’t the only topic of conversation at MCX. Here are some other highlights.

  • Related to CX Unity, Tarkoff emphasized the goal of hyperpersonalization: “The ability to think in micro-moments and treat the customer as a segment of one.” This also involves delivering the right content in a “pageless world” (Alexa!)
  • A new integration between Responsys, the B2C flagship in the Oracle Marketing Cloud, and Maxymiser, the testing and personalization solution acquired by Oracle in 2015, will make for a more consistent customer experience across email and web
  • Also in Responsys, a new recency, frequency, and monetary (RFM) dashboard will help marketers segment in a standardized way while identifying valuable customers
  • The Responsys UX is also set for a major overhaul
  • An integration with Slack will deliver a range of that platform’s popular collaboration tools within CX Cloud to help sales and service teams work together
  • The acquisition of DataFox last year is bringing a world of account-based data to the B2B side of CX (no, we haven’t forgotten Eloqua). Currently DataFox boasts a database featuring firmographic records for 3.5 million companies, and its AI capabilities are adding thousands more each day, with some — but minimal — human supervision. It’s also crawling countless news sources to enrich those records with the latest company news
  • Oracle Infinity is the solution which tracks and optimizes customer behavior across brand websites and apps. Embedding Infinity into Eloqua is aimed at allowing B2B marketers to reap the benefits of enhanced segmentation and personalization

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I spoke with Shashi Seth, SVP at Oracle Marketing Cloud, about the thinking underlying some of these enhancements. He traced it back to micro-moments. The mobile-fueled ability to engage with brands, conduct research, and make purchases anywhere and “in short bursts” has “changed the traditional customer journey mapping and understanding, and forced people to get to know their customers in real time and be able to take action in real time. If you don’t, you’ll miss that opportunity.”

That’s why, for example, there’s a move to connect Oracle Infinity with product  with all the other Marketing Cloud products, and ultimately across the CX suite.  This “beautiful behavioral data streaming product,” as Seth describes it, holds out the promise of a common understanding of the customer — where she is in the moment, and what she’s doing.

In the Eloqua context, Infinity’s behavioral data will integrate with account-based data, enhancing ABM opportunities. After all, B2B buyers increasingly have B2C level CX expectations. Seth told me Oracle now has great assets to build an ABM strategy entirely within the Oracle marketing eco-system. He referred to DataFox (the acquisition of which seems to me to have some parallels with Demandbase’s acquisition of AI-powered ABM intelligence solution Spiderbook).

The Oracle vision is bold, not least because it’s looking a long way ahead down the road. We’ll need to ask what has been achieved in terms of data unity across the CX Cloud by the end of 2020.  And we will.

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Signing off with the funniest opening to an email received this week (and it has nothing to do with Oracle, except that it shows personalization has a long way to go): “Hey there, Kim. I see from your writing that you’re into party games…”

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