Make Room for Giants: The State of the Enterprise Marketing Management Space


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The Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) industry continues to not only define what’s possible for marketers, but also helps them realize their vision for true multi-channel marketing.  Interestingly enough, this niche technology category has become very attractive as of late to the major tech giants, including IBM, Oracle, SAP, and NCR, to name a few.  I always felt it was a matter of time before consolidation fully took hold of this space – and it is certainly underway.  It seems like only yesterday when companies like Unica, e.Piphany, SAS, Siebel Systems, Aprimo, Portrait, Metavante and a handful of other niche CRM software providers were blazing the trail during the dotcom bubble years.

The landscape has definitely changed, as most recently evidenced by the bevy of acquisitions (including IBM’s announcement of its acquisition of Unica last week) and the high rankings that Gartner and Forrester have for solutions from the likes of SAP, Oracle, Teradata, etc. 

Consolidation abounds:  IBM now owns Unica , SPSS and Coremetrics; Oracle owns Siebel Systems; Infor owns Epiphany; and even Microsoft is considered a key player.  Other companies that seemed like start-ups just yesterday are getting snatched up; leading web analytics firm Omniture is now owned by Adobe; the list goes on and on.  In the case of IBM, Unica’s NetInsight and Coremetrics products are competitive and it will be interesting to follow their positioning as time goes by, but don’t be misled as IBM’s focus and surely the main reason for the acquisition was about adding Unica’s Campaign and Marketing Operations products to their portfolio.

While it’s nice to see the recognition the EMM industry is getting, I hope these acquisitions do not stifle innovation from the new and changing management layers that acquisitions have a tendency to bring, or from the cashing / checking out by the thought leaders that grew their hugely successful start-ups.  I do expect that industry analysts and the CRM decision makers that evaluate and select software will have a harder time as they sift through the new polish and in some cases ‘spin’ that the bigger sales and marketing budgets may shine on the same old products. 

Of course, new CRM challengers have emerged such as, Neolane, Alterian, Eloqua, and Marketo, and more acquisitions and mergers will certainly follow.  I am not suggesting that consolidation in the industry will stifle innovation, but rather it should be fueled as these independent firms compete to distinguish themselves in the changing landscape.  Equally, the acquired companies will likely be invigorated with opportunities to expand their R&D and integrate with other applications from their new parents.  In the case of Unica, I expect they will remain out in front in the analysts’ reviews for quite a while, even as they trend toward SaaS solutions.  However, it may not be too long before others are considered ‘the’ thought leaders in this evolving space.

For another point of view on the Unica acquisition announcement, check out this post, IBM’s acquisition of Unica will have long-term benefits for clients by Naras Eechambadi.  For more information about EMM providers and choosing the right one for your organization, see my blog posts, Selecting the Right Marketing Automation Vendor and Marketing Automation – Ready for an Upgrade?

Joe Kelly
Joe has experience working with senior management teams at leading international organizations in the retail, financial services, hospitality, telecommunications and travel sectors.


  1. Exciting times indeed. One nuance to point out would be that these acquisitions are directing the acquired companies to serve the missions of their new parent companies. For example. the Adobe acquisition aims to embed Omniture analytics into the content creation process. The IBM acquisitions on the other hand are positioned towards end-to-end marketing optimization.

    In other words, there is not just one enterprise marketing vision in the space today but different giants are headed in different directions. And when buyers are in need of the functionality that has been acquired a new evaluation criterion now is to compare their own long term vision to that of the parent company.

    May seem like a no brain’er from outside perspective. But people buying SFAs, or web analytics, or campaign management may have taken a much more limited view in the past when making their choice.



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