In my discussions with marketing executives about their investments in digital marketing programs, one of the most important challenges they are currently facing is understanding how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase.
— Are live events totally dead now, or will they return?
— What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer?
Plus, most importantly, what Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them in 2022.
When many companies ran virtual events in the first months of the COVID-19 crisis, the immediate goal was to cover an already-planned live event with an online alternative or work-around. Many executives made short-term decisions about the platform — optimization wasn’t yet part of their strategy, just getting it done.
And the event participants were so-easily pleased to be able to log in to any platform and be able to connect with business topics at all. As they were usually juggling the new world of working from home, the near presence of other family members to their home office desk, possibly the parallel process of also teaching/caring for their children; they were not too discerning about the event platform and willing to put up with a lot of kinks. That was certainly true for myself as I learned to make presentations on dozens of new platforms, all of which used different language and methods to even the basic functionality of screen-sharing or presenting.
Whether organizing an event or presenting at one, our overall experience was that most of event platforms deployed were not purpose-built for virtual events; they were originally designed to provide other services—such as webinars, e-learning course management, or event registration. However, through 2021 many Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform providers have been releasing new, dedicated software, to better support virtual events of all sizes. This has been fuelled, of course, by massive injections of venture capital into several of these vendors. The most famous story in this market sector was probably Zoom with its successful IPO valuation, but there were numerous other financial transactions that stayed under the radar.
I have now applied our Vendor Selection Matrixtm research methodology to this topic and the survey results are in. Companies have been working this year with multiple MEM solutions as most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic – the survey showed that nearly 70% of the respondents were working with more than six MEM vendors.
But as we enter the next wave (routine?) of virtual events, businesses will want to collect the relevant information and guidance to be able to optimize the experiences they offer to prospects, partners and customers. I expect investments in MEM platforms to be a major investment category in 2022 and marketing executives will want to be well informed about the choice of platforms.
The survey discovered this vendor landscape of the Top Twenty MEM vendors as scored by the 1,500 survey participants, and I am currently setting up a briefing program to talk to them and then add my scores. This is the list of vendors discovered in our global survey across many industries:
- 6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CADMIUMCD, CERTAIN, CIRCA, CVENT, HOPIN, HUBB/INTRADO/NOTIFIED, KALTURA, MEETYOO, MICROSOFT, ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPLASH, SPOTME, VFAIRS, and ZOOM.
If all goes well and the vendors listed above talk to me, we will publish the report in November. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
It’s been said that the pandemic has simply accelerated trends already in motion. That’s certainly true with digital transformation, with some thought leaders saying that two years of change is happening in as few as two months. More obvious examples are working from home, eCommerce, digital marketing, and event management; but
Digital Transformation has dramatically affected channel relationships and processes too.
Almost every industry is morphing to an “as-a-service” business model based upon digital interactions. But eBusiness/eCommerce has not taken work away from channel partners (there has been no “dis-intermediation”). No, the channel has become even more influential and advocational for all businesses. However, channel partners are now more likely to live off revenues earned from the buyers, than from the manufacturer they now, only occasionally, represent. Plus, in addition to resellers or distributors, we now have channel players called affiliates, referrers, associations, commerce content publishers, communities, groups, ambassadors.
Most importantly, the whole relationship is now primarily based upon digital interactions and depends less on partner account managers on the street.
My 2019 research report on this topic was titled Channel Marketing and Enablement – intended to cover all marketing processes where a manufacturer or vendor distributes products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel. Channel marketing is a form of brand content management; where programs, promotions and leads are managed both down and up the channel (also called Local/Distributed Marketing or Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA)). Channel Enablement are processes around the partner relationship itself: recruitment, registration and classification, contractual details, information exchange, and more (usually labelled Partner Relationship Management (PRM)).
In today’s world, I do not think that traditional PRM or TCMA is enough for any company that is working, marketing, and selling in a true digital manner. Most manufacturers have a channel software stack consisting of many parts; perhaps a TCMA system, plus a PRM, and usually other software tools that the PRM does not cover. With smaller volumes and, more-or-less, manual channel management, this was less problematic.
In a more digital business world, with higher volumes of transactions, transaction types, partners, and partner types, companies will want a more comprehensive and, more importantly, fully integrated platform for Partner Management Automation. So that is how I approached my 2021 research into the new world of channel management in a digital market.
Our 2019 report had already highlighted many vendors preferring to stick to their traditional offering of just a PRM platform or just TCMA: they were happy to do “business as usual” and find clients who wanted the same. With the digital transformation of channel management, many of those vendors will now run out of addressable clients. They may even lose much of their installed base as they, their customers, transform their channels. My call, after seeing the interviews with 1500 business practitioners and talking to the vendors:
The PMA vendor landscape will leave pure-play PRM or TCMA behind.
Our research even shows that probably only three of them are equipped to cover the even-wider requirements of PMA in a cloud-based, digital, eCommerce-dominated world with a much-more complex ecosystem of partnerships.
Who is in the PMA Vendor Landscape?
Within the fifteen vendors scored by the 1,500 survey participants, these vendors ended up in the Market Leaders category, having both their Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5:
- CHANNEL MECHANICS, COMPUTER MARKET RESEARCH, IMPACT.COM, IMPARTNER, and ZIFT SOLUTIONS.
The full list was completed by these vendors: BRANDMAKER, CHANNELEXPERTS, CHANNELTIVITY, MAGENTRIX, SALESFORCE, SPROUTLOUD, ORACLE, and WEBINFINITY.
We plan to publish the report later in October. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.
Always keeping you informed! Peter