In simple terms, an “open garden” approach to marketing technology is designed to help marketers retain their legacy solutions while also counteracting entrenched data silos. This is in direct contrast to the traditional approach to enterprise software, often called a “walled garden,” that locks business users into a predefined slate of technologies and pre-built data models.
The open garden approach, best exemplified by a customer engagement hub (CEH), is meant to provide the same centralization of data and operational control as a single-vendor suite. Except in the case of a customer engagement hub, brands are not locked into a predefined set of solutions. Instead, they are able to choose best-of-breed individual point solutions and tie them into a central system without regard to data type, data model, or data velocity.
The modern marketer uses anywhere from six to 20 point solutions, each ingesting unique data and operating with distinct business processes, rules, and analytic models. Because these point solutions don’t coordinate data, marketers operate with multiple data silos that complicate gaining the single view of the customer necessary for engaging omnichannel consumers.
Marketing clouds and other single-vendor suites were developed to counteract this technology fragmentation. The idea behind a marketing cloud is to provide an all-in-one solution with a “walled garden” data model that solves data and technology fragmentation. But this is proving impossible given the pace of innovation in the customer engagement technology market.
ChiefMartec.com identified more than 5,300 distinct solutions across 49 product categories in the 2017 Marketing Technology Landscape. These product categories include mobile marketing, content marketing, and personalization to name a few. It is fundamentally impossible for any single solution to fulfill all these needs. Even if such a solution existed, the vendor would have to release constant updates to keep up. ChiefMartec.com identified 150 solutions on their first landscape in 2011. The more than 5,300 on the 2017 edition marks a growth of more than 3,000 percent in less than 10 years, including a 39 percent increase between 2016 and 2017 alone.
The idea behind an all-in-one suite is to provide every capability business users need in a single platform that operates on a “walled garden” data model. This is how enterprise software has traditionally functioned, locking organizations into a pre-defined collection of distinct technologies – each with its own data model and user interface. These solutions share information within the suite, and are interoperable with each other, but have difficulty communicating or sharing data with solutions outside the suite. That lack of communication with external technologies is why these solutions are considered “walled gardens.”
This lack of communication is a major problem. When brands choose a walled garden solution, they must typically replace their existing technology stack with the corresponding capabilities in the suite. Already 44 percent of marketers spend more than 25 percent of their budget on replacing existing technology, according to recent research from the CMO Council and Redpoint Global. With marketing budgets climbing to 12 percent of company revenue, as per Gartner research, that 25 percent of budget spent on ripping and replacing existing solutions may be better spent creating great experiences for their customer base.
Single-vendor suites have not been broadly adopted either. Only 21 percent of marketers currently use an all-in-one suite, according to Walker Sands research, and only 16 percent of those users stay within their suite. Contrast this with the 48 percent of marketers using best-of-breed fragmented marketing technology (martech) stacks. With suites not performing their stated goal, there is a strong market need for a different way to achieve the single view of the customer necessary for engaging the always-connected consumer.
An open garden approach to martech, taken with a customer engagement hub, is both flexible and adaptable. Deploying such a solution doesn’t require re-platforming, and is much less costly in time and resources than a walled garden suite. The customer engagement hub provides a unified customer view, along with an intelligent way to orchestrate engagement across all digital and traditional touchpoints, throughout the enterprise. This requires an architectural approach to unify legacy solutions through a combination of connectors, robust APIs, and software development kits (SDKs) for custom extensions.
The open garden approach enables business users like the marketing team to take control of operations, from having a single unified view of customer data to orchestrating engagement across the enterprise. This is becoming increasingly important in a real-time world, where consumers are always on and always addressable, and expect a consistent experience across touchpoints. This approach allows brands to effectively use all data to deliver highly relevant and personalized engagement with customers across multistage journeys.
The open garden hub’s ability to integrate existing solutions means it can also accept new technologies easily. As the pace of technology change advances over time, a customer engagement hub only requires that new connectors be put in place as systems are added. Through this ability to accept new solutions and integrate that data into a unified customer profile, the open garden approach to martech is effectively futureproof. Marketers never need to worry about re-platforming their central point of control because it embraces innovations in completing the last mile to the consumer.
The open garden approach to martech is a flexible, adaptable solution to the problem of technology fragmentation and channel-specific data silos. Where both an open garden hub and a walled garden suite provide a single customer view, the open garden provides it at a lower cost and in a more future-focused way. Brands that adopt an open garden approach to martech stand to benefit from this lower upfront cost, as well as the futureproof and flexible system architecture. All these factors combine to position the open garden hub as the future of customer engagement technology in a constantly changing solution landscape, enabling enterprises to embrace new innovations while taking the friction out of customer engagement.