I have had the honor of being an active member of the world of CRM since the second half of the 1990s and have seen the evolution from a collection of Sales Force Automation and Call Center related tools to solutions that cover these traditional customer facing channels in an integrated manner.

Over the last couple of years, I have dived deeper into the world of Marketing Automation systems. While these systems (such as Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On and a host of others) have done a great job of automating email marketing processes, I am going through my Groundhog Day moment.

I see many of the same over-hyped promises being made by the vendors. Unfortunately, the customers too seem to be at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ (to use a definition from the Gartner Hype Cycle). As night follows the day, the ‘trough of disillusionment’ cannot be far away.

However, that is not the main point of this post. The more I understand how organizations design and use their CRM and Marketing Automation systems, it is apparent to me that the divide between these systems is artificial. Sure, some would argue that CRM is for sales teams whereas the main users of Marketing Automation systems are demand generation teams.

I don’t quite buy that. ERP systems serve users across Finance, HR, Supply Chain and Production related teams through one single consolidated approach.

Is there a downside to having multiple systems? Yes, there are many reasons why having multiple systems scattered across the landscape is a more expensive and time-consuming exercise for customers. Not the least of which is the need to have these systems ‘speak’ to each other seamlessly. Integration via connectors and API calls, while better than the olden days of hand-stitching code, is never as good as having the processes run within one system.

I think the market is ripe for disruption by a vendor who can bring the worlds of CRM and Marketing Automation together. Thoughts?