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Drowning in Web-Based Tech Tools?

By: Ned Stringham

The proliferation of sales and marketing applications is growing at an unprecedented pace. Because of the tremendous value these tools can bring to businesses, the fragmentation and adoption of many new channels for marketing, the lower costs of cloud-based application development and the friendly environment for starting and funding new technology ventures, this deluge of new tools all makes sense. In fact, it seems likely to continue.

While investors and entrepreneurs are focused on how their tool is different and fills a new space, small and mid-sized businesses are overwhelmed and confused. A quick review of the tools available today for online marketing alone shows that for the last 5 years there have been over 5 new tools released to the market every week. That’s 5 X 5 X 52 or approximately 1,300 tools just in marketing and sales alone. Think about what that means to a small or mid-sized business. To cover the marketing channels from email, to web, to affiliate marketing, ecommerce, search, social and mobile, let alone analytics, a company may need 15-to 30 of these different tools. While they may only cost $20, $50 or $300 per month to use, it’s the cost and time of identifying, selecting, learning, integrating and coordinating across these marketing tools and channels that is the real challenge. Since virtually all of these new tool providers offer very little service (because the tool maker doesn’t want to ‘pollute’ their financial model with low margin, low leverage services revenue) and have limited and low skilled service partner networks (there is not enough money to be made in training), people are left to learn it themselves and keep up with all the new tools coming to market each week. This is a daunting task.

Something has to give. Tool companies will begin failing at a more rapid pace, point solutions will see accelerated consolidate into broader more comprehensive solutions and new service models will emerge that truly work for small and mid-sized businesses to adopt and integrate the right mix of tools for them and gain real value.

The message here is to see the bigger picture from the customer’s perspective. Your tool might be great. It might add clear value but the energy and cost around finding, adopting and integrating that new tool will be seen in the context of implementing 100’s of other potential tools. Take seriously the need to be part of a bigger solution set. Markets will consolidate with or without you.

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