Beware Marketers Bearing Segmentation

Christian Finn is back again today with some more insights on marketing segmentation. Read on! And don't miss him on today's webcast!

Webcast: Do More with Oracle WebCenter - Expand Beyond Portals 
Date: Thursday, January 19, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM PST
Register today!

In a few hours, I'll be leading a webcast highlighting a variety of ways you can get more value from Oracle WebCenter by expanding beyond portals.  And that whole notion of expanding beyond software solution categories, got me thinking about how marketing segmentation of software can help—and hurt—customers.

On the one hand, clearly identifying a need there’s demand to solve — and the offering the product that solves it is the essence of great entrepreneurship and product management.  And for marketers competing in crowded marketplaces, segmenting markets creates niches in which vendors can compete and win by attracting customers through differentiation from the competition.  When most successful, the niche becomes a category in which the vendor can be defined — by market share, by revenue, and by analysts — as the leader. So, there is value in segmentation for vendors, and to the extent that segmentation enables customers to focus on and find the solutions they need, segmentation can benefit those customers as well.

Yet, segmentation can also be a detriment.  The marketer’s comfortable niche can easily become the customer’s restrictive silo for a customer, driving up cost and complexity while limiting flexibility and agility.

Let’s look at a few examples, starting with content management.  Content management is a market that is replete with segmentation: enterprise vs. web, document vs. transactional content vs. records management.  All have their uses and specific requirements, yet customers who end up with many different systems and repositories to address each of these needs individually pay far more in licenses, operation, maintenance, support, and integration.  By consolidating to a single repository, the American Institute for Architecture saved over 75% annually in content management costs—more than $3 million.

And the worst consequence may be the impact to users.  How can you find, and be sure you have, the correct and most recent version of a critical document?  If you have copies duplicated across repositories, it might be very hard to tell which version or copy is the master.

Another example is intranet portals vs. web site systems.  If you really think about it, the needs of employees, customers, constituents, and partners are not very different.  All of them want relevant targeted content for their information needs,  the ability to process transactions, to participate in workflows, and to have their own say by generating their own content. Now, the objects of each of those interactions may be different. Take transactions as an example:

  • a customer may want to purchase a product
  • an employee may need to change her retirement account investment selections
  • a citizen needs to be approved for a remodeling license, and
  • a partner to order more inventory
Each of these users is trying to conduct a different transaction, but the core technology underlying all of these process interactions could be the same.  In situations like these, buying one platform to engage all audiences, rather than different platforms for each, can make a lot of sense—and save a lot of dollars.


And as this is the blog of a leading vendor in many technology markets, this isn’t just idle musing. Since we have added the class-leading web experience management solution, Fatwire, to the Oracle WebCenter family as WebCenter Sites, we’ve given this particular area a lot of thought.  Over time you will see integration guidance and then technology from us that will enable you to blend web experience management with classic portal frameworks and applications to deliver the best of both worlds to the audiences you need to engage, whether they are inside or outside your organization.  In fact, we’ll talk more about this in the upcoming webcast - Do More with Oracle WebCenter: Expand Beyond Portals.

Given that there’s a software company famous for the mantra of “no software”, maybe it is also time for a mantra of “no silos.”  In any case, I hope you enjoy the webcast and share your thoughts and questions with us.


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