I read a blog post the other day talking about how Cloud Computing is no longer the next big thing – because it is now a reality and part of our daily life.  It is an accepted and understood way of doing business.  IT managers no longer need an explanation of what cloud computing is.  Now the conversations are around what should be run in the cloud, how to standardize, and how to ensure security of applications run in the cloud.

Marketing automation, on the other hand, has been much slower in getting into the mainstream.  I think one of the reasons is because it requires such a change in the way we do business.  It requires new processes, new skillsets, and a new way of doing marketing.  If you treated implementing a marketing automation tool like implementing any other software, you are likely still using your MA system like a fancy email broadcast tool and not seeing the real value in it.  Companies that have really implemented marketing automation well have gone through a long journey that required a lot of change and a lot of reality checks along the way.

Additionally, the MA industry itself is struggling to figure out the right feature set and the right way to talk about itself (excellent blog post on MASG about that here).  No one has clearly defined the space and the competition is still pretty fierce.  So to some extent it feels like companies are sitting back trying to figure out whether VHS or Beta is going to shake out as the standard before they buy.  And many are still trying to figure out if they need  a VCR anyway since they’ve been getting along just fine for so long without one.

All of that doesn’t change the fact that marketing automation is still, in fact, the next big thing.  It isn’t going away anytime soon and it will become the standard way of doing business, just like cloud computing.  You do need to take the time to figure it out and figure out how it fits with your business.  Just don’t expect that to be an easy plug-and-play process.  Be prepared for a lot of change and be ready to re-tool the entire way you market when you jump into this journey.  But don’t let that stop you from jumping in with both feet!