The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said "the only thing that is constant is change." Well, the CI services landscape seems to live and breath this saying. Today’s market demands are leading traditional database marketing service providers (MSPs) to deliver broader digital marketing capabilities, either through partnerships, acquisitions, or organic growth. While this trend has been unfolding for the last couple years, it shows no signs of slowing down. One of the latest examples of this activity is Alliance Data’s acquisition of Conversant for their Epsilon division. This is the latest in a series of moves by MSPs to build a bridge between the data business, digital marketing, and overall customer strategy – all key capabilities in the evolution toward Customer Engagement Agencies (CEA).  

Customer Insights (CI) professionals and marketers have managed relationships with their MSPs for decades to execute conventional direct marketing campaigns. While the classic database marketing business won’t dry up any time soon, the CI pros and marketers who manage these vendor relationships are grappling with:

Marketing agencies and services providers are all trying to position themselves as the one partner who can help you manage this complexity. But let’s face it, a lot of the noise out there sounds a lot like a classic “all things to all people” message. The fact is, the marketing services space will remain a bit chaotic for the foreseeable future. So in the short term, a network of partners will still be needed to meet your marketing goals, and Forrester is here to help.

We view the CI services space through two lenses: partner capabilities and delivery models. The range of these capabilities and delivery models is vast, and the compositions of the vendors who play in this space are changing as quickly as the marketing technology itself. So how do you make sense of it all? Start by taking a look at our latest CI services landscape – published by my colleague Fatemeh Khatibloo in her latest report