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Send in the Clouds
Here's why companies are getting soaked by their cloud solutions

by David Bernard, Managing Director of
DB Marketing Technologies

The song “Send in the Clowns” from Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” has nothing to do with clowns or circuses. The line “Send in the clowns” is a reference to the theatrical practice of distracting an audience with comedians telling jokes when a performance is not going particularly well.

For some companies Big Data, CRM and Multi-Channel Marketing initiatives are not going particularly well. The challenges range from poor solution integration to high cost to a lack of analytic maturity in the organization. So they “Send in the clowns”---well, actually they send in the “Clouds”—to magically address these challenges.

The Clouds promise an enticing combination of “Faster, Cheaper, Better.” Companies are all too willing to believe that the Clouds are the answer to all of their problems. Unfortunately, there is a lot of heartache hidden in the clouds. A company’s hopeful efforts to streamline and optimize delivery of CRM or Multi-Channel Marketing with a cloud solution routinely turns into a money pit of inefficient and costly solutions that lack maturity or full integration.

The problem is that cloud solutions are sold as turnkey products to be easily run and managed by clients. They’re not. Once companies stop high-fiving themselves for their miraculous find, they discover that the low cost of the cloud product is derived from the lack of support for the technology – there is no one floating on the cloud to integrate and manage the solution. Companies underestimate the required application of specialized integrated skill sets and domain expertise needed to make these solutions perform. All of a sudden they need to add a support layer, which can be very costly and more than offset the savings they calculated. At the end of the day, if not planned and managed properly, cloud solutions are more costly and less capable than what they are replacing.

So, when considering a cloud solution for your CRM/Multi-Channel Marketing capabilities, keep the following in mind:

  1. Do not be fooled into thinking Clouds are Turnkey. The “Clouds” want you to believe they do not need to be vetted under the hood as they are a turnkey solution, more like a software purchase decision that only requires you to focus on features and functions. Nothing can be farther from the truth. In their architecture and delivery, cloud solutions are no different than the in-house or managed solutions they are replacing. Integration, processing and resourcing issues at the cloud solution provider have the same impact on ongoing reliability, pricing and scalability. The only difference is that cloud solutions tend to be less mature, requiring more scrutiny in the design, integration and software.

  2. Do not under-estimate the need for skilled resources. The “Clouds” block out critical thinking regarding the skills and labor required to get the job done right. Clouds may seem like magical places where optimized software eliminates the need for skilled resources, but they aren’t. The worst thing that can happen is that you are caught by surprise.This is where any hope of a good ROI on the investment can go out the window. There is nothing like huge and inefficient labor costs to drive your initiative over the cliff.

  3. Do not under-estimate the need for management and oversight. The Clouds want you to believe they are “set it and forget it” and you will be free from the need to actively review performance and execution. As mentioned previously, under the hood, these solutions are no different than any other, except there may be less support from the provider for ongoing operation. This requires more oversight and scrutiny rather than less. Automated audit reporting and scheduled performance reviews are a minimum requirement.

So go ahead and Send in the Clouds. Just don’t get lost in them - and watch your wallet.

For more information about how DBMT® can help your company with Cloud Solution Selection, Implementation or Management , please email us at info@dbmt.com or call us at 212-717-6000. We'll make your CRM infrastructure work.




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