With the bulk of Salesforce’s business coming from its CRM technology and Adobe working so heavily in the creative cloud space, the company formerly known as IBM Watson Marketing believes it has found a gap in the market.
Now named Acoustic, after being sold off by IBM to Centerbridge Partners in April this year, the company is selling itself as “the only marketing cloud vendor that’s focused exclusively on marketers”.
“When I look at folks like Salesforce and Adobe, they’re doing a lot of different things… it’s not this type of marketing cloud technology,” said Acoustic senior vice president of product management Jay Henderson in Sydney last week.
“I think they’re a little vulnerable, that they’re very distracted with lots of different things, whether it’s ecommerce or data integration or all of the different things they’ve acquired.
“Frankly, the tools that are in the market today are not helping marketers create these great experiences, I think there’s a big void in the market that Acoustic can fill.”
Acoustic has been openly critical of the marketing cloud industry as it stands from day one, when company CEO Mark Simpson penned a blog post describing the “mediocrity” in the industry.
And while the separation from IBM in Australia is still yet to be finalised, the company touts its independence as a key differentiator from competitors.
Henderson the company is now able to rebuild the architecture “from the ground up”, something he believes competitors are not able to do due to the pressures that come with being large, publicly-listed companies.
AI at the core
With an inextricable link to IBM Watson, artificial intelligence is still a key component for the company.
But again, Acoustic wants to do it differently to its competitors.
“Most exciting for impact, is that we’re taking a slightly different approach to AI than I think our competitors have,” Henderson said.
“I think marketers, generally at the moment, have a little bit of fatigue around the way we’ve all talked about AI.”
And while AI ‘fatigue’ might be beginning to set in, Henderson predicted a significant period of change in the short-term.
“I think [AI] is going to drive a whole wave of change that, frankly, will change the industry more in the next five years than what we’ve seen in the last 25 years,” he said.
But for this transformation to come to fruition, businesses need to have the right talent and tools in place.
Henderson said he hopes Acoustic can relieve businesses of the struggle that is hiring data scientists.
“Companies are really struggling to hire data scientists, to find good ones who aren’t just ‘number slingers’ or ‘algorithm guys’, but who actually understand the business and can apply the technology.
“There aren’t enough of them, they’re hard to find, they’re expensive. So my feeling is that what marketers really need is not to go hire a team of 50 data scientists, but to have better capabilities infused into the products that they have.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean Acoustic is looking to put data scientists out of work, rather, Henderson said the hope is these staff can be “repurposed to higher-value tasks”.
“I think there are huge opportunities for the data scientists you have to add tremendous value, but you shouldn’t need them to do mundane or routine things.”