Living in Your Own Private Cloud: Better for Marketers?September 17, 2012 By David Atlas
Marketers have an interesting relationship with technology. Without a doubt, new tools provide marketers with sophisticated analytical and communications capabilities unparalleled by any previous generation of marketers. Indeed, consumers today are findable, understandable and convertible through media that exist purely as developments atop technology. Yesteryear's network of connected computers becomes today's web of email inboxes, mobile connections and social channels.
Yet marketers aren't IT customers. They want to use tools, but the tools need to be designed in a way that's powerful and accessible. Just like automotive technology, which is usable by vastly more people than are able to understand it, marketers today need to leverage deeply complex technologies without drowning in the details of their operations. They want to drive systems that maximize customer lifetime value without having to become computer programmers.
One of the key enablers of all this automation is the cloud. Cloud technologies — known by the roughly synonymous terms of Software as a Services (SaaS), on-demand software and hosted systems — mean that the software used to accomplish critical digital marketing campaigns isn't purchased by a customer and installed on premise. Cloud-based technologies run "out there." You simply open a browser, log in with your account credentials and get to work.
Having an email marketing and cross-channel solution that lives in the cloud means never having to install your own software — i.e., getting IT out of the picture. It also means, typically, a much quicker time to be up and running, a much greater level of automation, and vastly lower overhead in terms of the technical resources — and dollars — needed to support them. Cloud-based solutions can be a huge advantage, and there's little doubt why the market has moved so much in that direction.
Not all clouds, however, are the same. While clouds have their definite benefits, one of their limitations, at least in terms of automated marketing solutions, is that the actual resource is commonly shared among many different users. Think of it like the difference between a restaurant and your home kitchen: it's easier to get a meal in a restaurant — so much more is "automated" for you and all you have to do is walk in and order. However, just like the cloud, you lose something important: individual ownership.