The following is a guest post from Tim Burke, CEO of marketing strategy platform Affinio.
As a marketer, you get a lot of technology terms thrown at you. I'd like to throw one more at you: container-as-a-solution model, or simply "containerization." Huh?
Containerization is an interesting concept and a technology that's been used by other departments and functions, like IT and software development. Simply put, rather than uploading enterprise-owned data to a third-party vendor's tech for processing, the vendor sends its tech to the enterprise to run within its firewalls.
Think of it as a modern twist on on-premise software, but instead of sending physical servers to run technology, the tech is containerized and can be deployed in a private cloud, controlled entirely by the enterprise.
Why is marketing ripe for this model? It's hard to deny that the mar-tech sector is under intense scrutiny, particularly as it pertains to how brands leverage what's arguably their most important asset: first-party consumer data. Privacy concerns have made it more difficult to share first-party data outside of the enterprise's walls, from both a legal and risk perspective. GDPR has complicated third-party data appends, which was the go-to tactic for adding nuances about audiences, forcing enterprises to find new ways to extract consumer insights on their own.
Data breaches are also a huge concern, as we painfully learned by Cambridge Analytica's covert scraping of Facebook data. But in our industry, we've always known that the more vendors we share our first-party data with — however trusted they may be — the more we open ourselves up to potential data leaks. Publishers have been dealing with audience data theft for a long time thanks to ad tags that usher data aggregators onto their sites, often flying under the radar. Now, the consequences of this kind of theft are even greater.
What to do with first-party data
There's no organization in the world for whom first-party data compliance isn't top of mind. Most organizations I interact with are ill-prepared to develop deep insights from their own data and are now scrambling to resolve this. The solution isn't trivial. Legal departments prefer not to take on any risk associated with the release of first-party data to external vendors, yet insights from this data are exactly what marketers need to do their jobs.
To try to resolve this conflict, many larger enterprises are bringing data mining in-house, either by contracting consulting agencies or developing entire research teams who can analyze this data without it being released beyond the enterprise's firewall. However, leveraging consultants or building internal data science teams and custom analytical tools is neither scalable nor viable for most organizations in the long term. Time is of the essence and the need for insights continues to grow.
More concerning is that billions of dollars have been invested in the sector embodied in the Lumascape over the past 10 years. How can marketers take advantage of all that great vendor-developed technology that exists but requires your first-party data? We face these privacy restrictions at the precise moment when this sector is achieving unprecedented levels of innovation through AI and machine learning.
Container-as-a-service, in my opinion, will replace SaaS, because it lets brands fully benefit from third-party vendor technology without releasing any of their own data. AI companies will containerize their applications and provide them to clients who pay "as-a-service" monthly fees to access that technology.
This model allows the enterprise to truly own its insights. It also lets them control who within their organization can access the tech stacks inside the container, eliminating concerns that first-party data could be misused to benefit some other enterprise. It addresses the enterprise's immediate need for scale and speed while eliminating the inherent risk of sending first-party data to third-party vendors. Container-as-a-service will likely become the enterprise solution for privacy concerns in this new world order.