Skip to content

Recent Articles


Digital Marketing Architecture: CMO Martech Playbook

“i don’t think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead.”   Neil Blumenthal, CEO @ Warby Parker

“In e-commerce, lines are blurring fast across Ads/Content/Products/Transactions.” Mary Meeker, Internet Report, 2017

Seismic shifts are putting customers in control.  New innovations like mobile Augmented Reality (AR), Conversational-AI are changing the landscape of what’s possible in terms of consumer experience.  This is truly an exciting time to be in marketing technology (MarTech) and data-driven marketing. Lot of innovation, experimentation and chaos.

Marketing technology (MarTech) is composed of the following: data, analytics, sales and marketing automation, email, predictive tools, commerce technology, shopper marketing and payments.

MarTechHighLevelWhy this tremendous growth in Martech? The customer lifecycle around acquisition, engagement, commerce and retention is going through a major upheaval. Changing buyer behaviors forced companies to change how they market and sell. Instead of the classic CRM and “inside-out” approaches, a new wave of “outside-in” fresh rethinking around engagement, experience and micro-targeting is taking place.

Chief marketing officers are already outspending CIOs on tech as they race to bring marketing to the B2C and B2B digital world. According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets remain steady at >10% of company revenue. However, the growth and investments are all in digital marketing space as firms focus on millennials,  online customer experience, micro-targeting and multi-channel engagement.

Marketing technology budgets appear to be growing  faster for revenue-related capabilities than more internal efficiency improvements.  Also cutting-edge marketing technology is becoming legacy quickly.  The effectiveness of the generation #1 digital marketing playbook is eroding with mobile-centric usage patterns, ad blockers, and  spam filters. Consumers are now empowered with new and better control over interruptions from marketers. Buying lists, blasting emails, and cold-calling were no longer effective.

A new digital engagement playbook enabled by next generation martech is needed.

Good -> Great… Marketing Technology Architecture

As the race to become digital and engage prospects/customers gains momentum in every industry, CMOs are faced with an interesting challenge they never had to deal with before:

  • What is an efficient and effective digital architecture?
  • What does a “good” architecture look like?
  • What does world-class mean with respect to sales, marketing, service and commerce technology?
  • What is an effective mobile engagement architecture? What is the best way to systematically approach Mobile Onboarding, Activation and Retention (MOAR)?
  • How to make investments that align with a strategic customer engagement plan and not a tactical “plug-the-hole” gap fillers? Read more »

Digital Health and Wellness – New forms of customer engagement

PreventionDigital health and personalized wellness is about to reach escape velocity and transform the way millions of people  achieve their health and fitness goals. Self-tracking, quantified self,  connected fitness and personalized notifications (customer engagement) is the new frontier.  What was considered visionary a few years is now possible.

Consumer Health and Wellness management is a huge market opportunity in the U.S:

  • $2.6T – $2.8T annual spend on healthcare in USA, 18% of GDP in 2010, up from 5% in 1960, and 2x OECD average;
  • 100MM Americans (30%) of Americans considered obese in 2012, up from 15% in 1990.
  • $147Bln estimated medical costs associated with obesity in 2008, up from $79Bln in 1998
  • Diseases like diabetes currently affects more than 8 percent of the U.S. population, at a cost of $245 billion annually, and is projected to rise sharply over the coming decades due to obesity and an aging population.

In 2014,  the Affordable Care Act and readmission penalties, we saw the transformation of healthcare in the US market to a value based reimbursement model impacting payers, providers, pharmacies, technology vendors and more. The next phase of evolution of healthcare delivery is around getting customers more interested in managing their own health by changing lifestyles and healthier living.

(Source: American Heart Association, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2012, OECD)

Trends Driving the Connected Health and Consumerization

Preventative healthcare is really about the getting the participant to be active in their own healthcare management and change behavior.  The change around consumer driven healthcare spend are staggering:

  • IDC expects the market for wearable devices will reach 114.0 million units shipped in 2018, representing a $33.7 billion worldwide revenue opportunity.  Compare this to   2014, shipments of wearable devices more than tripled compared to the prior year, reaching a total of 21.0 million units shipped.
  • Consumers spent over $200 billion in 2014 on health and fitness services  (industry sources – Fitbit S1)

Virtual wellness coaches, loyalty incentives, social gamification and personalized goals are all elements of this growing digital ecosystem.  Technology is a key enabler of this ecosystem with advances in wearable (e.g., Apple Watch) and sensor computing (e.g., clip-on activity trackers).

Read more »


CxO Transformation Dilemma: Digital Businesses and Innovation Clockspeed

“The retail industry is in the midst of a seismic shift. We can bemoan changes in the marketplace or embrace them.”  Target CEO Brian Cornell 

DigitalUnicornsEvery CEO today must have an answer to the question, “What is your digital strategy?”

Consumerization, prosumerism, crowd sourcing, sharing economy, millennial experiences, omni-channel services and other digital-enabled transformations are challenging the status-quo.

Few things have jumped into the consciousness of business executives as quickly as digital business. Executives realize that their companies must succeed in creating transformation through technology, or they’ll face destruction at the hands of their competitors and next generation “unicorns” –  Uber, Airbnb, Netflix,, Pinterest, Google/Nest etc. – that do.

TechTarget’s Tom Goodwin had an insightful observation:  “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” All are Asset-lite digital businesses.

These new-age firms have an inherent advantage. Digital startups  by their very nature tend to be more user-centric, for several reasons:

  1. They are often founded on the premise of improving or simplifying the lives of end users;
  2. Their business is built from the user’s perspective, rather than on an established business model;
  3. The digital platforms (applications and infrastructure) on which they build their products and services enable a much higher degree of user centrism;
  4. They lack the legacy infrastructures, bureaucracies and operating models that force many traditional companies to continue thinking from the “inside- out” rather than from the “outside-in”.

There in lies the classic Innovator’s Dilemma made famous by Clayton ChristensenRead more »


The Notification Economy – New Contextual Experiences for Mobile Engagement

Mobile is rapidly expanding opportunities to engage customers and increase stickiness. There is incredible amount of innovation taking place around Mobile Engagement, Messaging and Notification platforms. Messaging + Notifications = New mobile engagement toolsets.  New capabilities are emerging to: power push notifications, sophisticated audience targeting, message centers, digital wallet programs, and location analytics.

Notifications are growing rapidly and becoming increasingly interactive.  This is driving new touchpoints with messaging platforms and other apps.


Source: Mary Meeker, Internet Trends 2015

Wearables are increasingly become a central part of mobile engagement enabled by push notification strategies. Many retailers, CPG firms are experimenting with new micro-targeted contextual experiences  leveraging proximity beacons, push messaging to integrate coupons, recommendations and next best offers into the watch apps to monetize push and in-app messaging.

The Apple Watch, for instance, is a long-term megatrend that we believe will transform user engagement via notifications and alerts.  Unlike the tablet, phone or desktop, wearables, like Apple Watch, are built for quick interactions e.g., notifications and alerts.


A study by Kleiner Perkins found the average user checks their phone over 150+ times per day (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc.).In its 2014 annual Internet Trends report, KPCB  found that people check their phones, on average, 23 times a day for messaging, 22 times for voice calls, multiple times to see if there are Facebook updates and 18 times to get the time.  We expect many of these 150+ “interrupts” are naturally going to migrate to the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch’s small screen size enables a fundamentally new user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). There are new inputs (force as well as touch), subtle vibration, digital “crown” control, new inter-device communication modes, and new data points that phones have never been able to collect (e.g. heartbeat).

Read more »


Customer Engagement Architecture: A Quick Reference Guide

As technology moves faster, customer’s patience grows thinner. A survey from UMass Amherst of 6.7 million users, showed that viewers tend to abandon online videos if they take more than 2 seconds to load. Most users stay on a single web page long enough to read only 20% of the text on that page, according to Nielsen Norman Group.

Instant gratification is the driver of next generation customer engagement architecture. Consumers and customers expect real-time responses. They are being conditioned for this. On an emotional level, posting a Facebook status, a tweet, or an Instagram photo feeds on and reinforces the need for instant approving feedback.  This trend creates incredible challenges for corporations who have to re-engineer, re-factor and re-architect their existing and legacy applications. 

It’s no secret that consumerization is disrupting, eroding and challenging how businesses operate.  Being customer-obsessed or “walking in the customer’s shoes” means putting customers at the core of the business, even if that means disrupting the existing platform architecture.  Easier said than done. In fact, it requires an entirely new engagement toolset at all levels – Systems of Record, Systems of Engagement and Systems of Intelligence.


Yet while most management teams understand the significance of the pace and scale of these customer experience and engagement changes, few companies have determined exactly how their organization’s strategy and architecture needs to change in response.

In response to disruptive digitization vendors have modernized, re-engineered and re-architected comprehensive frameworks to help customers. Here we examine the inter-connected “systems of engagement” and “systems  of intelligence” architecture proposed by various vendors.

  • Customer Architecture
  • Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Framework
  • Teradata’s Interactive Customer Engagement


Read more »


Digital + Cloud First Strategy of Corporations and U.S Federal Agencies

Digital transformation is driving disruption across all industries; transition from traditional on-premise to hybrid public/private cloud infrastructure; and need to balance business agility, mobile workforces with persistent security threats.

CloudsThe increasing adoption of cloud computing and penetration of mobile devices are the two inter-related digital trends transforming the IT industry today.

“Pure play” Cloud services for Google, NetSuite, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, and other technologies are taking hold to speed up digitization.

We are clearly in the middle of a once-in-a-decade transformation.  In the consumer and retail world, the movement to Web based cloud services, is being accelerated by the move to deploy social apps, mobile apps, location aware, real-time applications. Several business processes are being “cloudified”:

  • CRM: RelateIQ, Zoho, AgileCRM, Salesforce
  • Payroll: ZenPayroll, Xero, Workday
  • HR and Employee Benefits: Workday, BenefitFocus
  • Accounting: QuickBooks
  • Insurance and Benefits: Zenefits
  • Project Management: Jira, Asana, Basecamp
  • Servers: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Blue Ocean
  • Storage: Box, DropBox
  • Communication: Slack, HipChat
  • Marketing Automation: Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot

Typical Cloud design goals include:


It’s increasingly obvious that old applications and technologies need to adapted —  Four different delivery models – IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, Private Cloud –  are emerging differentiated by service level agreements (SLAs). But, how do you explain “cloud services” to someone new to this space?  There are multiple ways of describing cloud services.

In this posting I highlight some useful taxonomies from various sources that I found useful in explaining Cloud Computing and Cloud Services. Depending on who you are talking to pick the relevant one.

  • Why Cloud?
  • Describing the Cloud to an Enterprise Audience
  • Describing the Cloud as Outsourcing 3.0
  • Describing the Innovation Roadmap unleashed by the Cloud
  • Cloud Taxonomy Read more »

Digital Integration Strategies for and Workday

Digital Integration via APIs executes communication between a new generation of SaaS apps (Salesforce, Workday) and the legacy systems of record that provide the data. Legacy apps are “sticky” and expensive/risky to replace. So preserve the old and yet create new value.


Cloud-based service delivery methods  are accelerating in every organization. Simply look at the growing enterprise adoption of Salesforce SFA/CRM, Workday HR, Netsuite ERP, Oracle on Demand, for apps and Amazon Web Services (AWS) for e-commerce.

However the growing adoption creates one of the biggest challenges facing CIOs today – how do you implement new SaaS delivery models while still integrating with the the mission-critical legacy apps you’ve invested in for years?

If SaaS integration is not planned properly, it creates a “cloud in the corner” syndrome – a condition where new cloud-based SaaS solutions are disconnected from existing IT resources. The result: fragmented enterprise data scattered across the cloud.

CIOs have seen this “cloud in the corner” and data silo problem too many times in the past. They know how this movie is likely to unfold. Data quality and integration issues — aggregating data from the myriad sources and services within an organization — are CIOs and IT Architects top concern about SaaS and the main reason they hesitate to adopt it (Data security is another  concern).

Developing strategic (data governance), tactical (consistent data integration requirements) or operational (vendor selection) strategies to deal with this emerging “internal-to-cloud” data quality problem is a growing priority in 2012. Otherwise most enterprises are going to get less than optimal value from various SaaS solutions. Things are likely to get out of control pretty quickly. Read more »

%d bloggers like this: