We often see new terms enter the business landscape, which then becomes part of our day-to-day vocabulary – from “big data” to “omnichannel” to “digital transformation.” However, we may not always grasp the true meaning of these terms. As marketing technology (martech) adoption rises, there’s another term we’re hearing pop up: “Open Garden.” This is a prime example of an industry term companies are struggling to define and actually incorporate into their business plans.
At a high level, “open garden” is a concept, philosophy, mindset, and strategy. It’s about believing in best-of-breed technology and nurturing existing spend in organizations with minimum disruption. When adopting an open-garden approach, companies should focus on optimization and ensure that the right hand and left hand (the siloed solutions) work together cohesively. An open-garden integration is not as complicated as some businesses may perceive it to be.
To demystify this term, let’s debunk a few common misconceptions in relation to an open garden approach.
Myth #1: You Have to Rip and Replace Existing Marketing Technology for More Impactful Digital Experiences
The truth is: Companies can embrace marketing technology they’ve already purchased and leave room for new innovations too. Businesses are often in a “shiny object” or “marketing toys” mindset and believe that the latest cloud technologies will answer all of their challenges. However, in reality, most companies already have technologies in place, and it would be more disruptive to rip and replace these all together, as opposed to enhancing the value of existing solutions.
An open-garden approach blends together technology across marketing, customer service, sales, commerce and various other parts of a business. Most organizations have already invested countless time, resources, and dollars in marketing technology, and there’s no reason to abandon these completely. People have spent their careers working with the SAS model that analytics professionals have created. This model can be reused, not replaced, with new technology in the market. With the ability to add new best-of-breed solutions later, this approach helps companies to future-proof their strategy.
Myth #2: You Can Get Seamless Access to Data in Marketing Clouds
The truth is: In a wall-gardened environment, like a traditional marketing cloud, companies do not completely control customer data. The data marketers do get access to is often an anonymous and cookie-based view of the world. Open-gardens, on the other hand, allow users to link different types of customer data – such as 1st-2nd-3rd party, streaming, batch, structured and unstructured – into a single, golden record for businesses to view, access and manage. This is not the case in a walled-garden structure, where data is siloed, and therefore not available in real-time when needed. Marketing clouds’ walled-gardens focus on anonymous identity stitching, but don’t provide a complete view of data – which is essential for delivering seamless and personalized customer experiences. In these cases, getting access to the specific data needed can require costly services. Even more, a walled-garden architecture requires everything to be maintained in a certain format or structure, limiting flexibility.
Myth #3: Open-Garden Integrations Create More Complicated Work for Brands
The truth is: Open-gardens aim to simplify, not complicate, data integration so that companies can implement best-of-breed tools together in harmony for a better customer experience.
This experience is created through a three phase process. First, there is the implementation of new databases, applications and channels. This is then followed by decisioning and optimization, which brings in external models – while also creating some internally – which are trained for the best fit and solution to a business challenge. Lastly, brands are able to orchestrate the engagement with a customer. This approach allows companies to keep up with new, ever-changing ways to interact with consumers and provide the level of experience they have come to expect.
Open-garden integrations can be maintained by a centralized Customer Engagement Hub. Brands shouldn’t maintain the hundreds of plug-ins themselves – it should be easy to configure and connect to new and various touchpoints through APIs that leverage existing martech investments and extend their value.
What’s Next For Open-Garden Adoption?
If the above hasn’t convinced you that an open garden concept is not as daunting as you may have thought, take a step back and evaluate your current business environment. Ask yourself: what’s really holding you back from moving your customer engagement strategy forward? Follow these steps to embrace an open-garden architecture and finally have the ability to give customers the experiences they’re demanding:
1. Review your current data, analytics, and orchestration capabilities and consider ways these could be improved.
2. Focus on getting senior buy-in on an open-garden strategy.
3. Set a roadmap for success, leaving room for new and innovative technologies that may not even exist on the market yet.
Marketers have endless options for technology solutions. Before you adopt the latest innovation, first ensure that your business is set up for success to implement the technology, integrate it with existing solutions and reach its potential. An open garden approach is not just another buzzword; it’s a crucial element to your martech foundation. Without it, your systems and data will live in silos. You’ll miss out on revenue opportunities and even worse: your customers’ experience will suffer.
Don’t lose customers to the competition because you didn’t have enough flexibility to react to their changing needs. It’s time to get back to basics and get the foundation right. Free yourself from walled-gardens. You’ll have less integration headaches and your stakeholders and customers alike will thank you.