One of the common themes in all events is marketing. Everywhere you look, marketing is making noise. Oracle completed the acquisition of Eloqua, Marketo went into the IPO process, Salesforce is putting a significant amount of resources into its Cloud Marketing and, more importantly, marketers are on the rise.
SiriusDecisions, an analytics firm, held a conclave in early May to discuss its new cascade marketing methodology. Marketing professionals, as well as associate sales associates, Lattice-Engines and Full Circle CRM - to name but two - have attended the event to make observations, to be seen, and to absorb the new marketing wave.
Closer to home, I'm attending the second annual HubSpot day for analysts at the Cambridge offices. HubSpot became a darling at the beginning of the new marketing movement a few years ago - which turned into inbound marketing - and was very successful.
Generally, when marketing reaches its limit, as it is happening now, there are some economic possibilities. Either we are entering a new market / category / paradigm or the economy is showing signs of life after a recession and I think it is possible that both are happening now. The recession is slowly ending and marketing as a discipline is the new paradigm.
In fact, and this is most interesting, the rise of marketing began at the depths of the recession, when austerity represented great news and almost nothing faced opposition. But it was almost as if the crowd said no, we will not buy, let's start moving the economy again. Let's attack, let's start marketing and selling again and we'll spend some money to make it happen.
This is where economics imitate life - a couple of weeks ago, the economic ideas that underpinned the austerity argument, which devastated Europe and made the kidnapping in DC a dirty word, fell apart. Two Harvard economists, called Reinhart and Rogoff, whose work carried out austerity, have proven to have made significant spreadsheet errors. If there was an Oopsie award, they would certainly take it.
The translation is that the Austerians (as Paul Krugman likes to call them) misunderstood. The mathematical errors and erroneous assumptions of the Reinhart-Rogoff model were inaccurate and the data did not support their conclusions.
What's interesting to me is that the market in general began to react long before the fall of the Reinhart-Rogoff model. No one needed to be hit in the head with an old tire tool to change direction. We are nothing but doctrinaires in this country, and when something does not work, we make small adjustments, no matter what employees and supposedly intelligent people tell us.
That's the beauty of our free-market system. It is distributed non-hierarchically and works very well. In my own mind, I often compare the practices of Western capitalism with totalitarian capitalism practiced throughout the Pacific.
The Chinese have a great capacity to mobilize their people and their resources to produce large quantities of goods, but they continue to operate in a hierarchical, command and control manner. Democracy and totalitarianism are political systems just as capitalism is an economic system. Politics and economics have to work together because both are needed.
I could never conceive how totalitarian capitalism could orchestrate the changes I saw this spring. The very idea of individuals deciding for themselves what to do in a confused market with a totalitarian political system - even with free market capitalism as the economic model - and breaking with official thinking is hard to imagine.
For me, that's part of what CRM captures. It is the chaotic and spontaneous that CRM tries to harness. Sometimes it works well, other times it may fail. But CRM has made important leaps forward. Like economics and sociology or one of the human sciences, it came on its own as it adopted many of the tools of human science - the bell curve, crowd sourcing, large database and analysis, and, above all, probability. There is simply no way for a different political-economic system than we have in the West to reach the same conclusion. It would be like asking a fish to invent fire.