We’re living through a time of decentralization. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but there it is. Business processes that were once controlled at the core are now being pursued at the periphery. Cloud computing is the mother of all decentralization but we’re seeing it happening in an accelerating pattern in the energy industry as solar and wind and soon other forms of energy capture and provisioning evade central distribution to capture and consume energy where needed.
My favorite example might be district heating systems where we capture heat from one location—sometimes waste heat—and deliver it where needed. I wrote about this here with Amazon’s new headquarters as a sterling example.
Decentralization is here to stay because it lowers fixed costs and enables things to happen closer to where they are consumed and in the process deliver greater value thanks to the proximity. Salesforce just announced this approach as Distributed Marketing.
In announcing Distributed Marketing, Salesforce shows how vendors can push sales and even delivery to their partner networks while still maintaining control over the message. This isn’t new or at least the aspiration isn’t. In the partner relationship management (PRM) world we’ve seen numerous attempts and some were quite good. But the fly in the ointment has usually been the undercapitalization of either the OEM or its software supplier. Whoever does the marketing and software development needs a critical mass of demand or the whole thing crumbles due to expense.
Salesforce solves these issues by placing the distributed marketing process in its marketing cloud and enabling its output to be distributed far and wide throughout an OEM’s network. For that matter we’re not limited to PRM either, any business that needs to maintain brand coherence from vendor to customer can take advantage of distributed marketing including insurance agents and resellers, financial advisors, and franchisees. In most cases the messaging is somewhat accountable to regulation so it’s important to have a clear line of control from end to end. In this circumstance, I don’t know why Salesforce didn’t include the pharmaceutical and medical device industries as examples in its announcement; their messaging is highly regulated.
How it works
Central marketers create customer journeys in Journey Builder that encompass offers and workflows and other declarations and digital files. These journeys can be appropriate to sales, marketing, and service interactions—it doesn’t matter. Then the journeys can be distributed to partners for use in their local campaigns in whatever Salesforce cloud is relevant. Customer onboarding could be a good example. Onboarding messages might be useful in closing a sale or bringing new users into the fold. The Einstein analytics engine can monitor programs based on these journeys and partners can evaluate their success and then provide feedback to the marketers at HQ.
My 2 bits
Distributed marketing is a form of digital disruption and decentralization and one that is especially appealing. This approach doesn’t eliminate jobs or responsibilities. In its place, it invents jobs that are based on leveraging new technology. Best of all, distributed marketing doesn’t upset the basic approach to the marketplace that’s been ongoing for years. Partners still deal with their customers and customize solutions for them. But instead of dealing with a lot of manual overhead needed to produce programs, or more likely, not creating the programs because there’s only so much time in a day, or just trusting sales or service people to say the right things, OEM’s and partners now have a greater degree of control over how they go to market.
At the end of the day this reduces friction and subtly enables everyone to be more effective and do more business because a software driven process is managing some nasty details.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research Group)