What the Customer Did Next: Oracle Offers Orchestration

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What the Customer Did Next: Oracle Offers Orchestration

Oracle today announced the launch of Orchestration Canvas, a set of innovations to the Oracle Marketing Cloud UI aimed at creating more unified and personalized experiences for prospects and existing  customers in the B2C space.

With “marketing orchestration” threatening to become this fall’s buzzphrase, I asked Steve Krause, GVP Product Management at Oracle Marketing Cloud what orchestration actually means. The old school marketing approach, he said, was to try to get large numbers of customers thinking the same thing. New school is asking what you, as a brand, can do for them. Orchestration means an organized, but not regimented, response when the customer touches the brand in any channel.

In 2009, Responsys (acquired by Oracle in 2013) launched Program Canvas, a centralized tool for co-ordinating cross-channel marketing. Orchestration Canvas, said Krause, “flips that model on its head.” Marketing today, said Krause, “can’t dictate the customer experience, but can help the customer along to what the customer wants to do.”

In particular, instead of developing customer journeys with eyes on their own calendars, marketers need to work against the customer’s time. There are all sorts of different ways to be responsive, depending on what the customer is doing and their profile.” 

This might even involve waiting for the customer. “Within an orchestration with many steps, you can have smaller steps of waiting until you see what the customer does.” Instead of a regimented workflow which plans text messages, emails, offers in advance, orchestration means “handling time reflexively to the customer.” It also means, said Krause, being not multi-channel but truly cross-channel. “There’s a lot of multi-channel marketing out there, but it’s disconnected,” he said. “A modern orchestration system does not just track and listen to different channels, but connects them together.”

This means not just co-ordinating outbound messaging, but being responsive to customer activity, such as moving from silver to gold levels in a loyalty program, or engagement with customer service. If a brand-customer conversation begins on a website, and picks up again later on mobile, it’s important to “continue in a way that makes sense,” he said, “rather than like you’ve never known the person.”

I asked how easy it is to conduct this kind of granular responsiveness at scale. “That’s the hard thing,” Krause agreed. How does a large brand provide an adaptive experience when they could have tens of millions of concurrent engagements. But this isn’t the first generation.” Citing Sears, J. Crew and Staples as examples of large scale retail enterprises, Krause suggested some questions to ask of vendors who claim to offer orchestration: “Is it really being done at scale? And is it truly adaptive? Can you stop and wait? Are the channels synchronized? Next generation orchestration is truly adapative, truly cross-channel, and truly integrated.”

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