The Cost of Complexity: The Hidden Drag on Your Marketing Effectiveness
Darren Guarnaccia Posted by Darren Guarnaccia December 04, 2018

The Cost of Complexity: The Hidden Drag on Your Marketing Effectiveness

Marketers are under enormous pressure today to keep up with customer expectations. Expectations that aren't set by their everyday competitors, but by the world at large where brands like Amazon, Apple, and Netflix establish the new normal in consumers' minds. The deep pockets and innovations of these world-class giants force the rest of us to keep pace with ever-escalating requirements.

That means constantly leveling-up our digital experiences, sussing out the latest Marketing Technology (Martech) where hundreds (if not thousands) of vendors with shiny new tools emerge almost daily, promising better targeting, increased conversions, and improved efficiencies. Just last year alone, Scott Brinker's Marketing Technology Landscape grew by over 1500 vendors.

Marketers need to be able to utilize all these new capabilities, quickly swapping in and out different tools, but are often slowed down or blocked by the complexity of managing this always-evolving Martech stack. This isn't new. Marketers have been grappling with how to best build tech stacks for over a decade and most of them are still doing it wrong, more overwhelmed than ever. Why is that?

Some time ago, enterprise marketers (and IT, too) bought into the idea that they could buy a single, heavyweight, integrated digital experience platform from one vendor, such as Adobe. This platform would serve as the hub of all their digital experiences, powering their entire portfolio of websites and digital properties. The goal was to gain corporate control, achieve consistency, and simplify governance across regions, divisions, and sub-brands.

However, in most cases, they failed. What was in all fairness a noble plan, backfired because of the cost, complexity of implementation, and rigidity of the monolithic platforms they chose.

Plagued by planning

Among the issues with a cumbersome solution like Adobe are the upfront planning, skillset, and preparation needed before development can even begin. Because it's not SaaS, there are a list of questions (and cost implications) companies need to consider when determining the configuration their use case will require. Remember, even if Adobe isn't being hosted in your data center, it's still an on-premise solution that's being hosted in another data center. Meaning, it requires an appropriate and carefully thought-out infrastructure to support it.

Additionally, because solutions like Adobe couple content management and delivery together, companies generally need to rewrite all their legacy tools and applications they want to bring over so they're compatible with the underlying solution's language. Most enterprise companies also have customization needs that must be carefully scoped to ensure future software upgrades don't break what they've built. Companies are often surprised by just how time-consuming and resource-intensive the process is.

Ready. Set. Launch. Upgrade?!

Because of the long timelines (usually 18-24 months) required for launching an enterprise website on an unwieldly platform like Adobe, by the time a site is live, the version of software it was launched on is likely already out of date.

At that time, companies must decide whether to upgrade to the latest version, or migrate the remainder of sites over on the same (now older) version. This conundrum usually results in companies getting stuck in perpetual upgrade cycles that make it nearly impossible to finish the project they started. It's a common trap that prevents brands from successfully migrating all their sites to the new platform.

Mounting pressure to carry on

Because of all these factors and more, companies that choose Adobe (or an equally rigid, behemoth platform) usually end up only moving a portion of the websites over that they had originally scoped, leaving the remaining ones scattered across a bevy of legacy solutions, waiting for their turn to be migrated over to the (ahem) promised land.

In the meantime, other stakeholders and divisions within the company may need to rebrand, launch new products, stand up microsites, add blogs - you name it - and they can't wait the typical 2 to 3 years it can take for an Adobe implementation. So, out of desperation and pressure to be agile, they find their own cut-rate solutions by standing up lightweight, consumer-grade platforms like Wordpress or Umbraco. In a recent study of over 4000 brands with revenue over 500MM in revenue, it's reported that 35% of them are using Wordpress in one form or another.

Inconsistent Brand Experiences.

Let's give Adobe the benefit of the doubt and assume that the portion of websites that made the cut and reached the Adobe promised land are now consistent, aligned with customer expectations, and well-managed. But what about the other 50-75% of branded touchpoints? Effective corporate oversight just isn't possible. From outdated messaging and assets to unapproved fonts and typefaces, the brand appears disjointed and out of step.

Disparate platforms also contribute to fragmentation of user experience. Every brand sitting in Wordpress or on another lightweight CMS creates a silo. They are managed independently, can't share resources, and must be secured and controlled on a one-by-one basis.

This leads to frustration by customers who expect a fluid, cohesive experience as they interface with your brand across channels. According to a study done by Salesforce, 75% of consumers expect consistent experiences across channels, and 73% said they are likely to switch brands if they don't get it (Salesforce).

Lack of Security

Because of the rogue nature in which they came to be, the new websites that sit outside Adobe pose significant cybersecurity risk. In fact, Wordpress is one of the most attacked technologies in the world. Attacks on Wordpress increased 400% last year, which is 6 times more than any other CMS platform. (Imperva) That's an expensive mistake for a brand.

Perhaps even more concerning, the sites that have been moved over to Adobe may also be vulnerable to cyber threats. That's because when a company isn't on the latest version of a vendor's software, they're likely to be missing security patches that have been released for known vulnerabilities.

How can market leading CMS solutions be so incapable of meeting today's needs?

The root causes are simple. The majority of CMS vendors aren't really SaaS, although they'd have you believe they are when they refer to their solutions as "available in the Cloud." But the truth is, most have just migrated their on-premise software into a cloud vendor's virtual server. Furthermore, because they aren't SaaS, they don't play well with the other pervasive, mission-critical SaaS platforms, like Salesforce.

Another root cause is the rigidity of these solutions. Back when these technologies were new, experiences were built and delivered differently. Companies built websites around a page based model, and hired developers with very specific skillsets to code those templates. The problem is, these platforms haven't adapted to the times so companies using Adobe for example, still need Java developers, which puts them at the mercy of market demand and availability.

Thanks to enormous marketing budgets and a loud share of voice, some of the largest CMS brands have successfully convinced enterprises that their solutions are modern, when they're in many ways antiquated.

All these factors have brought us to the place marketers are today: frustrated, limited, and hamstrung.

The way out

Companies locked into multiyear contracts with these vendors may feel paralyzed, as they struggle to address the remainder of sites that are unlikely to ever make the arduous trek to Adobe. Fortunately, there's another solution.

Companies can finally realize their digital transformation vision without getting rid of Adobe or being coerced into working within its unyielding confines. Because of the way Crownpeak was uniquely built, it can be used as a standalone primary CMS or in this case, to augment an existing solution like Adobe at a fraction of the cost.

Where yesterday's solutions falter, Crownpeak shines as a SaaS solution that's built on a flexible architecture capable of supporting the most complex enterprise websites.

As the only enterprise SaaS vendor in the CMS market, we've freed big brands stuck on unforgiving, clunky solutions by providing a way to complete their digital transformation ambitions in as few as 90 days. We've even launched customer sites in as little as 4 days. Now that's time to value.

If you're facing a similar challenge, let's talk about how we can help you save face by migrating the rest of your sites to Crownpeak without ripping or replacing any of your legacy applications, worrying about budget overruns, or fearing the potentially devastating impact of upgrades. Our job is to make yours easier, not harder. We do it by giving you agility and control of your digital world so you move as fast as the market demands.