When a vendor acquires another product and puts (vendors will say "integrate") that tool within an existing “suite,” it usually comes with a key side effect: overlapping features across multiple products within the suite. You've probably seen this phenomenon before in the portals, enterprise content management (ECM) and other marketplaces. More recently, this issue is surfacing in a big way in the digital marketing marketplace.

Multiple acquisitions add overlapping features
As an example, Salesforce has acquired many tools that are now packaged as part of their "Marketing Cloud." Additionally, Salesforce also created some of its own applications, such as Social Studio, which exposes functionality from those acquired tools, thus, further increasing your options. So, analytics is available across Radian6, Buddy Media and Social Studio. Similarly, publishing can be done from Buddy Media as well as Social Studio. Similarly, you'll find features for engagement in Social Studio, Buddy Media as well as in Radian6.

Implications for your team
Salesforce and other suite vendors will argue that these are not overlaps. They’ll say multiple products target different use cases and, therefore, give you the ability to target a broader set of opportunities.

Even where this is true, you—the customer—will have to spend considerable amount of resources just to understand these overlaps and educate your colleagues on when to use what tool.

Again, to take the example of Salesforce, both Radian6 and Buddy Media provide features for social media analytics. Radian6 is a general-purpose social media monitoring and intelligence tool and provides broad capabilities for social media analytics. Buddy Media, on the other hand, provides capabilities for monitoring your own social presence, like your Facebook page, Twitter account and so forth. The difference lies in focus; Radian6 is for broad social media, while Buddy Media is for your own specific social pages. Are those two different people in your enterprise?

This is just one example. With digital marketing suites from Oracle, Adobe, IBM and others, your team may also need to master multiple products—many of which do very similar things—to get the most benefit. You'll find this brings extra overhead to your processes, when you have to not only train people how to use different products but then also educate them on the often subtle differences of doing similar tasks from different places.

This post was published originally on the Real Story Group Blog. Copyright 2015. Real Story Group is a research and advisory firm focused on digital workplace and marketing technologies. For more information on their "Marketing Automation and Social Technology" report, visit www.realstorygroup.com.

Apoorv Durga is a senior analyst at the Real Story Group and covers search, web content and experience management, portals, digital marketing, social media monitoring, mobile and SharePoint. Follow him on Twitter @apoorv.


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