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Digital Marketing: Test/Dev in the Cloud

Cloud technology has proven to create many benefits for companies large and small. The agility that is created by using public-cloud resources has allowed companies to act sooner and respond faster to market conditions and changes. The cost savings of running workloads in the cloud has also confirmed that the on-demand, pay-for-what-you-use model is allowing development shops and enterprise IT departments to save money for their organization like we have never seen before. We’ve talked about websites and webhosting in the cloud, but the most widely used and now probably over-looked use case for the public cloud is the ability to implement  cloud resources for /dev, and this couldn’t be more relevant for companies that are looking to change their business with digital marketing.

Digital marketing continues to evolve as companies are looking to leverage technology to enhance their brand, reach new target audiences and nurture the existing customer base. Those customers are using multiple devices, on a host of different platforms; all with the goal of reaching customers in a meaningful way. From email to web apps, to social media and retargeted marketing, there are hundreds of ways to extend your digital marketing efforts, but you want to make sure that it’s done right, timely and cost effectively. The public-cloud gives developers the chance to cultivate new ways of reaching customers on these devices, as well as an inexpensive option for ing the viability of digital marketing campaigns.

Leveraging a public cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS) creates the perfect environments for running development cycles and ing new offerings. Companies like Skytap are creating software that allows development/ teams even more flexibility and efficiencies by allowing companies to create Environments-as-a-Service for enterprises in a compliant and secure manner. Analytic companies like New Relic are allowing us to compile application performance data, as well as perform synthetic transactions within our campaigns so we can grab real-time data on where our customers are going, what are they looking for and answer the question “Is my application effective in reaching our target audience?” Never before have we seen so many tools to empower our development teams to make amazing marketing campaigns with flawless code deployments because of the ability to leverage public-cloud providers’ infrastructure resources that are easy to set up, always available, and flexible enough to any software we like.

Digital marketing has come a long way over the years, but we are about to embark on a new era of technology offerings that allows us to reach our customers and track their behavior in a meaningful way. The concept of a digital business using digital marketing efforts is not something that should be considered only for high-tech firms or flashy start-ups. It should be leveraged by all businesses, from the small regional bank to the large multi-national conglomerate. The ability to accept and implement this strategy will define the new Fortune 500 of tomorrow, and it all starts by creating a culture of innovation and change today.  Download our white paper, The Digital Enterprise: Transforming Business in the Cloud to learn more about Dev/Test in the public cloud.

-Blake Diers, Alliance Manager

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Digital Marketing in the Cloud

In previous posts, we’ve introduced the overall concept of the Digital Enterprise, characteristics of today’s digital businesses, key challenges that many companies face when adopting a cloud strategy and the steps that these organizations can take to help speed their transition to the public cloud.

Our recent white paper, “The Digital Enterprise: Transforming Business in the Cloud”, defines digital businesses as companies with 100% digital IT and business processes that, for the most part and as much as possible, are hosted in the public cloud.  Additional characteristics of a digital enterprise include:

  • The ability to easily scale computing resources and advanced features in order to meet demand.
  • Faster time-to-market when launching new services, websites and web applications in support of business initiatives and market changes.
  • The ability to innovate, , fail, and repeat at speeds that far exceed those of their competitors that still maintain traditional, workload management solutions.
  • Management of systems is unified in the public cloud via a single management interface, which eliminates the complexities of multiple management systems and delivers higher cross-application reliability.
  • Ease-of-interoperability due to open architecture that supports multiple software and hardware technologies.
  • The focus of the IT department becomes innovation rather than required maintenance.

Companies like Coca-Cola and Yamaha have already begun their transformation to becoming Digital Enterprises by migrating critical applications and workloads to the public cloud.  Core workloads and applications include short term, large scale batch computing and data analysis workloads, on-premises business applications (ERP systems, marketing, collaboration, sales, and accounting tools), application and development environments and applications which are built to be inherently “cloud” or “cloud native”.

As companies seek to streamline their core workloads and applications through digital migration, they quickly realize that central IT isn’t the only department that can benefit from the use of cloud technology. It’s no surprise that with today’s digital culture (and our need for instant gratification and expectations for wicked-fast responses, feedback and communication), marketing is a key sector that stands to benefit drastically from the capabilities of the cloud. Specifically, the drastic change in the ways in which enterprises can now reach and engage their audience and furthermore, scale globally to support thousands of websites and web apps as well as store, analyze and distribute mission-critical data, efficiently and securely.

I began my career as a high tech marketer more than a decade ago and have had the privilege of working for some of the biggest names in the industry. It all began at PeopleSoft as a Direct Response Campaign Manager, driving direct mail campaigns for the ERP powerhouse. Over the last fourteen years, my role as a marketer has transformed along with the methodologies that have emerged, changing the game as we know it.

It wasn’t much more than a decade ago that traditional “snail mail” was the norm for getting your business’ messaging into market and a standard campaign was a bit of a mathematical equation that resembled something like this:

Digital_Marketing

The result? A sluggish response to market changes and data capture/analysis was manual (at best) and provided very little insight into campaign performance and ROI when compared to today’s digital marketing capabilities.  The good news, however, was that competition followed the same methodologies and invested in the traditional, tried and true mediums of marketing and advertising.

I still remember the day that I launched my first, purely digital, email campaign.  Within minutes we began seeing audience responses trickle in, and in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think, “Whoa! Game changer!” It wasn’t long before newer methods of digital marketing emerged and traditional direct mail became a dinosaur on the verge of extinction.

Today, investments in digital marketing are a key component to a digital enterprise’s competitive advantage. The convergence of technology and marketing has never before been so tightly coupled, thus having a profound impact on overall marketing strategies. In fact, a 2013 U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Survey by Gartner reports that two-thirds of marketers have a capital expenditure budget that they are using to acquire marketing software licenses and infrastructure.

Marketers are looking for an easier, lower cost way to get the capacity they need to develop digital marketing campaigns when and where they need it.

Delivering engaging experiences requires real time, high performing architectures that provide marketers the ability to measure and improve the performance of their websites or campaigns and tie them more closely to overall corporate goals. The insights garnered from the massive amounts of data collected can then be used to dynamically adjust creative execution or content for optimal performance.

The secret to success when shifting your digital marketing efforts to the public cloud is to enable digital operations that drive real-time action plans to better serve your customers. Additionally, it is important to recognize that digital marketing campaign management isn’t the only area where digital enterprises are reaping the benefits of the public cloud.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore how businesses like Adobe, DVF and Magento are benefiting from an increased flexibility and agility to quickly respond to changes in the marketplace and scale their marketing operations globally—at a much lower cost than traditional methods—by running the following digital marketing efforts in the public cloud:

  • Websites & Web Applications
  • eCommerce
  • Dev & Test Environments
  • Content Delivery

In today’s world, consumer habits change fast and marketing decisions need to be made within seconds, not days.  Shifting your marketing operations to the public cloud enables you to deliver marketing content and campaigns with the levels of availability, performance, and personalization that your customers expect while lowering your costs and driving preferred business outcomes.

-Katie Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting the Most Bang for your AWS Buck

Cloud computing continues to redefine itself as more customers begin their “Journey to the cloud.” There are many value propositions between different cloud providers, including, but are not limited to; agility, cost savings, time to market, increased security, flexibility, elasticity, economies of scale, a more effective support model, and the list continues.

As we start to understand the cloud provider landscape and take a snapshot into who is going to be the market leaders in the future, it is easy to see that Amazon Web Service (AWS) will be amongst that leader board. AWS is not only defining the IT infrastructure as a Service market, but it is also changing the consumption model for IT.

Due to the drastic changes in the procurement process of infrastructure, more business level executives (CFO, COO, CEO) are being pulled into the strategic decision making process of acquiring infrastructure as a service. For those executives that are not familiar with cloud services, I would like to offer a few tips that will not only support your overall corporate goals, but will allow you to make informed decisions in this highly evolving landscape of cloud computing.

  • Train yourself on the new model – Changing your company’s IT spend from a capital expenditure model to an operational model can be challenging. Consult with your AWS account manager on best practices. Discuss your goals with a Premier Partner within AWS’ ecosystem. Converse freely within your company to understand how you can address potential roadblocks before they happen. The procurement department and the finance teams within your organization will have great insight on how to help with this process.
  • Be cautious of jumping in with two feet – Many organizations are starting their journey with a hybrid model (on-premise + cloud). Test/DEV, disaster recovery, or non-production applications are all great candidates for moving to the cloud. Your ERP system and your mission critical applications may still have some lifecycle on their existing infrastructure and should remain on-premise until an evolutionary plan can be developed. Start small, think big and enable your staff to learn the technology, while still supporting your organization’s goals and business objectives.
  • Leverage the free tier – AWS offers a free usage tier and has no restrictions on your particular use-case. Spin up a new application, train your engineers on the new platform, or simply an existing application. The choices are yours to make, and it will not affect your bottom line.
  • Reserve Instances – For the applications that are running in a steady state or have a consistent operating floor, purchase reversed capacity. This will immediately give you cost efficiency between 40%-70% off your on-demand billing.
  • Get rid of excess capacity – Many organizations are accustomed to procuring IT infrastructure that has been over provisioned to meet the demand of peaks and spikes in their business. With cloud computing, you do not need to allocate excess capacity. With the proper architecture, it will be waiting for you when you need it. Optimize your environment(s) and leverage one of the grea advantages of cloud computing.
  • Tiered Pricing – For heavy users of cloud services, AWS offers tiered pricing to customers that consume web services up to certain thresholds. Review these tiers and forecast your roadmap to meet these levels before reporting deadlines (fiscal year ends).

If you follow these guidelines, your business will be sure to reach cost efficiency in the cloud.

-Blake Diers, Alliance Manager

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