Earlier this year, I worked with a national NFL Team to evaluate their database and email marketing tools. It was a comprehensive evaluation of multiple toolsets at their disposal. The areas I focused attention on were:
- Ability to integrate outside solutions
- Ability to automate processes
- Ease of use
- Responsiveness of the company through account management and support
The first two of these were benefits for the future. I wanted to make sure that the organization was working with solutions that embraced integration and automation, even though their current features may not have been up to the competition. It's a difficult argument to get people to understand, but companies have core competencies. When they begin to work outside those core competencies to generate additional revenue, they begin to weaken their core product and will likely have a selection of products that are feature rich, but poor in design, support, and innovation.
Today's technology landscape is changing. I would rather point companies to open technologies that can be automated and integrated well, than feature-rich products.
In the end, the company took my advice. Rather than working in a single solution, they have begun working in 3 different solutions, and another that isn't currently available, is around the corner. Their ticketing is done in their ticketing system, their Customer Relationship Management is done in their CRM system (Salesforce), and their Email Marketing Solution is done in their Email Marketing Solution (Exacttarget). The 4th solution is an online householding solution, something we've not seen to date.
Within a week of the first integration, we had an email out the door to improve communications with their Season Ticket holders. Now we are working on integrating their ticket database to their CRM… the challenge is that the ticketing system is not integration friendly. That's unfortunate and it's seen as a roadblock to continuous improvement in the process.
The ticketing company may want to rethink their strategy and stick to their core competency, otherwise someone else will come in with a solution that will play well and replace them.