The Giants in the Marketing Technology Landscape

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IBM recently announced that it has entered an agreement to purchase Unica in a cash transaction worth approximately $480 million.

The multiple IBM is paying for Unica is very encouraging (IBM is offering $21 a share to Unica shareholders, more than double the share’s closing price on Thursday last week, on the Nasdaq Stock market and the highest level the stock has ever seen). Post acquisition, Unica’s software unit will work with IBM’s business analytics and optimization consulting organization – a team of 5,000 consultants and a network of analytics solution centers.

This is IBM’s 8th marketing and data related deal since 2008 – Cognos, iLog, Lombardi, Initiate, SPSS, Sterling Software, Coremetrics and Unica. IBM’s acquisition of Coremetrics, a leader in Web analytics software was just 2 weeks back and interestingly Coremetrics shares quite a few overlapping features with Unica.

Suresh Vittal and Joe Stanhope from Forrester in a recent blog post on this acquisition commented, that Unica’s purchase reinforces IBM’s assertion that they are committing to marketing solutions and the CMO. They feel that this acquisition is more about Unica’s marketing automation and operations solutions than about the Web analytics products.

IBM had mentioned earlier that Coremetrics will operate as a unit of IBM’s application and integration middleware division, essentially in Webspehere family of products as an analytics component. It seems IBM’s approach towards this space is to have its application server as the central piece powering all the key functionalities on the website, while it continues to control the ecosystem and protect the interests of its stakeholders.

Now let us look at Adobe, who just added Day Software in July this year along with their last year’s Omniture acquisition. The Omniture acquisition in 2009 made Adobe very strong on measurement of all engagement elements of the website – website itself, video, call to actions etc. With Day Software, Adobe adds Web content management (WCM), strong digital asset management (DAM) and social collaboration. So Adobe is moving in terms of making web authoring as central piece and continues to assemble components of the online customer engagement ecosystem.

Now these are just 2 among handful of other big players moving into this space – ECM (Oracle/Stellent, Open Text/Vignette), marketing software (Alterian/MediaSurface) and enterprise search (Autonomy/Interwoven).

Overall large companies moving into the marketing technology landscape makes this space interesting in terms of predicting where the overlap of strategies and approaches will happen next.

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