Posts Tagged ‘dmos’

The Benefits of the Direct Marketing Operating System

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

In a previous post, I illustrated the need for a direct marketing operating system ("DMOS"). In this post, I'll further explain the benefits of a direct marketing operating system and how the use of NextMark's DMOS facilitates the federation of direct marketing services.

The benefits of electronic commerce can be achieved without using DMOS. Marketing service consumers ("buyers") can interact directly with marketing service providers. However, the problem with this scenario is the number of connections required between buyers and providers which forces the constant "reinvention of the wheel" by both the buyers and providers.

Buyers and providers conducting electronic commerce directly with each other

As shown in the diagram above, each buyer has to establish a separate connection with each marketing service provider. Likewise, each provider has to establish a connection with each buyer. For example, in the case of 1,000 buyers and 100 providers, 100,000 separate connections would have to be established!

These connections are not trivial. Connecting to a web service is not much work. However, establishing a business class connection that is secure and reliable is quite significant.

The alternative to the cobbled together "point to point" approach mentioned above is the use of DMOS to facilitate communications between the buyers and providers.

Electronic commerce with the Direct Marketing Operating System

Buyers need only one connection with DMOS to access all services available through DMOS. Likewise, marketing service providers need only one connection to DMOS to enable all DMOS buyers to utilize their service.

In essence, DMOS makes it easy for buyers and suppliers to conduct business.

But DMOS is much more than a matchmaking service. It provides the infrastructure that makes it possible to conduct secure and reliable business electronically.

Direct Marketing Operating System (DMOS) services

The responsibilities of DMOS include:

  • Directory– provides a registry of services available through DMOS
  • Authentication – validates the identity of parties involved with a transaction protecting against impersonation
  • Authorization – restricts access to services to protect against unauthorized access
  • Confidentiality – ensures that requests and data are delivered confidentially through encryption to protect against eavesdropping
  • Orchestration – coordinates the workflow of many tasks in a business process to avoid omissions and errors
  • Message Delivery – guarantees the delivery of messages and data are delivered to ensure that no critical information is lost in transmission
  • Transformation – transforms requests or data into the format required by the marketing service provider performing the task
  • Monitoring – monitors the availability and performance of services to ensure high availability
  • Integrity – ensures that requests or data is not tampered with in transmission
  • Non-repudiation – provides assurance that an agreement or service request cannot later be denied by the parties involved
  • Auditing – keeps a log of service activity to provide insight and accountability of the service
  • And more…

Without DMOS, you would have to implement all of these services yourself or be exposed to significant security and service risks. This implementation requires a monumental amount of work. The implementation is so big that it often makes projects like this not feasible. This is probably why we've not seen much electronic commerce in the field of direct marketing.

With NextMark DMOS, you get all of these services by simply connecting to DMOS. So, you can focus on your business. Service providers focus on service delivery. Buyers focus on their marketing campaigns (and not technology).

Federation of Direct Marketing Services

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

As discussed in "Needed: Direct Marketing Operating System", the direct marketing channel is currently lacking an systems infrastructure. We're striving for a solution with the DMOS platform. When it's available, DMOS will make it easy for direct marketers to purchase direct marketing services from a variety of vendors. It will also be easy for direct marketing service providers to provide their services through DMOS.

Some examples of direct marketing services are mailing lists, merge/purge, data modelingCASS address standardization, printing, and email delivery. Examples of direct marketing service providers are list brokers, list managers, service bureaus, and printers.

Direct marketing service providers will be able to publish the availability of their services through the DMOS directory – a structured and searchable directory organized by service categories. Think of this as a turbo-charged version of the yellow pages specifically tuned for the direct marketing channel.

What is the relationship between DMOS and the service providers? I believe that "federation" is a term that aptly describes the relationship. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a federation is

"a system of government in which several states form a unity but remain independent in internal affairs"

Although not typically used in describing relationships between businesses, I believe the concept of federation is appropriate here.

The DMOS platform will unify direct marketing services. It will enable buyers to find and procure direct marketing services. It will enable vendors to deliver their services through a common platform. DMOS will provide some "governance" to ensure that the marketplace runs smoothly. Some examples are user authentication, security, directory services, service monitoring, integrity, confidentiality, etc.

However, each marketing service provider will "remain independent in internal affairs." They will be completely responsible for the delivery of their services. DMOS will help buyers to find and request a vendor's services, but the vendor will be responsible to negotiate and fulfill the buyer's needs.

This federation relationship reminds me of a shopping mall. The mall owner is responsible for the security and infrastructure. On behalf of the buyers, the mall owner will ensure a safe and easy place to conduct business. Each seller is responsible for running their own store.

From a business perspective, the concept of forming federations has been around since the first bazaar was established centuries ago. Electronic marketplaces are relatively new, but recent advances in computer technology have made them feasible for even small businesses. Other more complicated industries, such as manufacturing and travel, have implemented federated marketplaces.

I believe that an electronic marketplace for direct marketing is feasible because of the highly electronic nature of the business. Unlike most other industries, almost every aspect of the direct marketing process can be performed electronically. All that's needed is some "glue" to combine and orchestrate all of these electronic processes.

It's about time direct marketing had a federated marketplace. Don't you agree?

Needed: Direct Marketing Operating System

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Direct marketing is perhaps the most powerful form of marketing available today. The Direct Marketing Association states that "each dollar spent on direct marketing yields, on average, a return on investment of $11.69, versus ROI of $5.24 from non-direct marketing expenditures" in its 2008 Power of Direct Marketing report.

Need more proof? Look no further that Barack Obama's recent presidential campaign. His successful campaign "rewrote politics" because he tactically outmaneuvered his opponents by reaching voters quickly and directly through direct marketing — particularly through postal mail, email, and texting — instead of slowly and indirectly through mass media.

This direct marketing is powerful stuff. Why doesn't every organization use it to reach their market? Because it is difficult and expensive. It's a complex manual process known only to industry insiders.

To illustrate how complex direct marketing can be, here's a diagram of the process to obtain a single mailing list:


There are 36 manual steps to this process! Now imagine that you are running a campaign where you are renting 10 outside lists, merging them with a house file extract, printing 200,000 pieces, putting these addresses on them, and putting them into the mail. That's hundreds of manual steps! And a lot of delays and opportunities for mistakes.

With all this complexity, it's a wonder we get any mail out at all. But we do and that's a testament to the hard work and diligence of the vendors serving the direct marketing channel.

However, it's expensive.

All this manual work drives up the cost of delivering a direct marketing program. As a result, the direct marketing channel is only open to those organizations willing to make a very significant investment. Vendors can't afford to service micro-campaigns. It's relatively the same amount of work to send one million pieces as it is to send one thousand pieces.

The reason all this work has to be done manually is because the industry has no infrastructure. The direct marketing process is effectively held together with "bubble gum and bailing wire" – disparate systems, spreadsheets, phone calls, emails, faxes, re-keying orders, etc.

What's needed is a Direct Marketing Operating System.

Direct Marketing Operating System (or "DMOS") is the name we've been using here at NextMark for the last eight years to denote the technology infrastructure that will facilitate the direct marketing process. There are lots of good reasons for the complexity of this process: approvals, privacy and security of data, etc. That intrinsic complexity will remain. What will change is the amount of effort and time required to deliver a direct marketing campaign.

The technology needed for this technology infrastructure is available and proven: web services, xml, service oriented architecture, etc. It just needs to be applied to the direct marketing process. That's what DMOS is all about.

DMOS will enable direct marketing service providers with an easy way to promote their services and integrate their services with the rest of the process. Vendors will operate more profitably than ever before because orders will be delivered electronically and serviced efficiently with button clicks rather than manual re-keying.

DMOS will make it easy for organizations to utilize direct marketing services. Using direct marketing services in a campaign will be about as easy as filling your shopping cart on or your favorite website. You won't need to know about all the supply chain logistics to place your order. And you won't have to wait a long time to get the results.

Don't worry — all the checks and balances will be in place (in fact, improved) and there will be more need than ever for trusted advisors (i.e. consultants, list brokers, list managers, agencies). This is not about disintermediation. It's about integration.

The benefits? The immediate benefit is faster, easier, and more profitable direct marketing. The longer-term benefit is the opening of the direct marketing channel to all organizations big or small. Direct marketing will be more approachable. As a result, the industry could more than triple in size – that's big!

Do you agree that the industry needs an infrastructure? What can we do to deliver it?