How do we build out the consumer experience?
A discussion worth having is around how to best put the parts together to support marketing. The traditional parts can be thought of in either vertical or horizontal integration. In vertical integration companies leverage best of breed tools for each key functional area within the marketing portfolio to maximize a specific interaction. In the horizontal approach, a platform is aligned with the journey to provide a better chance of improving the experience across interactions.
Like black & white, yin & yang, and Abbott & Costello there is clearly no one perfect answer to which is better. A lot depends on the brand experience promised and the value proposition offered to consumers - as well as how they want to interact with us. Not to mention the technical chops of the IT team.
The case for vertical, or specific functional solutions, rests on the argument that a single interaction must be as effective as possible. This could be email, mobile, web experience, or browsing the Internet. The challenge then becomes in cross-channel integration. And it has been said, if you cross 'best of breed' you might end up with a mongrel.
The case for horizontal, or platform solution, rests on the argument that the shopping journey covers so many different options that we need to be efficient as possible across them. The challenge here is to ensure that each interaction is coordinated and leverages what has come before.
There is a new player: Like a black hole, the omni-channel retail model actually concentrates the vertical and horizontal points of view into a singularity. We need to do both in order to provide the best possible experience anywhere consumers choose to grace us with their attention.