Industry Insights

Marketo Unveils Project Orion for Tomorrow's Marketers

Marketo Inc, a cloud marketing solutions platform provider, announced its next-generation platform architecture Project Orion at the Marketing Nation Summit. During the keynote at the event, Marketo's Chief Executive Officer, Phil Fernandez said Project Orion was the company’s biggest technology investment to date. 

"There are a billion customer events each day,” said Fernandez in front of around 6,000 marketers attending the event and joining the livestream. “That’s a number that is far bigger than most people use in their marketing automation today. But, in a sense, if you’re looking to reach the scale of a Google or Facebook, that’s a whole different category of business software. By having a thousand times the higher capacity, higher performance, you have the ability to get more granular and put more fuel into determining the right, next best thing to say to customers. It’s a whole other level of intimacy.” 

"Project Orion is really about Marketo reinventing the scale infrastructure for enterprises to interact with their customers. It's fundamentally about billions and billions of interactions that we all have as consumers with the companies and the brands that we engage with because of this new digital world," says Sanjay Dholakia, Chief Marketing Officer at Marketo. "In the new [Internet of Things] world, the old paradigm of channels goes out the window. It used to be that I might interact with a brand in one, two, five channels—social, mobile, email, Web. That whole paradigm gets blown up in an IoT world because [customer interaction are] literally everywhere—everywhere meaning, my refrigerator is now connected to the Internet, my thermostat is now connected to the Internet, my car is now connected to the Internet. There are literally billions and billions of interactions that a company and a brand can have with their consumers, and they need to be able to process those interactions in real time.”

As we reported on CMS-Connected early this month, Marketo built its fast-growing business on selling to small and mid-market accounts which kept it largely off the radar of its biggest rivals for years. However, the cloud-based engagement marketing software platform provider has been focusing upmarket lately, which puts it on a possible collision course with big players such as Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe. It is obvious that the company has been trying to expand its audience to the enterprise-level customers. The company even indicated in its most recent quarterly 10-Q report: “We had net losses attributable to Marketo of $18.4 million and $18.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively, primarily due to increased investments in our current and projected future growth.”

Although Marketo has been investing in its product line to leverage digital experience, it can still be slow at times when merging duplicate records, pulling smart lists, exporting lists, and creating reports in RCE. The analysts have been stressing that if Marketo wants to gain a share in the large enterprise market, these low latency issues should be fixed. So it seems like the time has come, as this is why Project Orion came into play. 

Now, the industry experts believe the re-architecture will improve Marketo’s capabilities significantly, with dynamic performance and speed. The company says the platform is designed to run across the whole enterprise with a view to enabling the scale, performances, and analytics needed to interact with customers along every step of the buying journey. Thirty Marketo customers are testing it, including CA Technologies and; by the end of 2016, the platform will be available for all customers. 

With Project Orion, named by Star Wars enthusiasts at Marketo, it will be easy to tell which video consumers completed, for how many seconds they viewed the video, and which parts were skipped and replayed. Also, marketers will be able to follow up with customers who abandon their shopping carts. It basically will help marketers increase digital intimacy with consumers through highly-personalized content. 

Fernandez stated the project was a result of the shifting trends in IT, specifically, the growing number of touchpoints in the customer life cycle in mobile and the Internet of Things, as well as the exponentially increasing number of data feeds used in the marketing process. He also added that Project Orion would put customer interactions in the context of what came before and what comes next so that companies can listen, learn and respond to each customer in a personalized, relevant and contextual way across the enterprise.  

According to Fernandez, a whole new architecture is needed as the current system handles an average of 10 billion customer events each day. However, a basic customer instance of the new platform will be able to handle 20 million customer events per hour, which basically means around 600,000 events per second, with a goal of handling 90% of every analytic query within a maximum of five seconds. Although it sounds like an improvement, this is something that the company will have to work hard to maintain and keep up with the bigger players, as marketers are competing with microseconds in today’s marketplace. 

The platform is mainly designed to help organizations "lay a digital fabric across the whole enterprise" while also delivering an enhanced analytics architecture. One of most important features of this new solution, which will come to market later this year, is its streaming database infrastructure for “at scale”
Marketo Chief Scientist Shankar Venkataraman has recently joined Marketo from IBM, where he was Chief Technology Officer for the IBM Analytics Platform. He commented on the evolution of data-driven marketing: 

“The science and mathematics have always been there. The problem has been getting all of that data into one place — a polymorphic system which can take any type of data, no matter where it comes from. Once you get to that point, then the ability to scale is there. People are looking at 30, 50 variables — but when you get so many data together, you have 10,000 variables, for example. And now people really want to analyze all 10,000 variables at the same time and we’re now actually able to think about this more.”

He clearly explains the direction Marketo is heading with this new platform: 

“Every action that you do through these systems percolates through,” explained Venkataraman. “If I click on an app on an iPhone, that app click comes to the marketing systems. That transaction that you do goes back to the financial system, which is actually running on a mainframe. This action has to tie into the other systems. Conversely, if you don't click, the fact that you don't click, or the fact that you search for something — that is what we call ‘digital exhaust’. Everybody says Google search is so good. The Amazon search and Amazon recommendation are so good. The reason they are so good is because they capture every bit of digital exhaust. That is what we are trying to do from a marketer's point of view. We will actually go on every channel. Then, we can actually match the marketing lead data to what this is actually going to convert into, an opportunity to see.”

Lastly, he stressed the reason for his career change

“There’s a lot of apple polishing on the technology side,” said Venkataraman. “One of the reasons I left IBM to join Marketo is I wanted to be part of this. You have to create value.”

There is no doubt, Marketo will benefit from building higher capacity, higher volumes and a whole new architecture to cope with an enterprise market where transactions are happening not just in millions, but in billions. Hence, just like Marketo, all technology providers will keep innovating and enabling the end-to-end marketing life cycle without leaving the side of the customer. As Fernandez puts “That’s the only way to do digital transformation right. Otherwise, what’s the point?”


Venus Tamturk

Venus Tamturk

Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.

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