[Posted by Stephane Dehoche,
President and Chief Executive Officer Neolane]
IBM’s acquisition of Unica has written another chapter in the still-ongoing story of marketing automation’s ‘industry consolidation.’ Depending on whom you ask, the move by IBM is a tipping point, the completion of a cycle, or, more cynically, just another buy by Big Blue to increase its presence in the analytic applications market after having for so long focused primarily on infrastructure software.
According to SiriusDecisions’ Jonathan Block, “…the combination of Unica/IBM technology along with IBM’s vast services groups could help accelerate marketing automation platform (MAP) adoption, certainly for larger organizations.” However, he continues, “the implementation portion of adopting a MAP (whether on-demand or not) is something few marketing organizations have the stomach for.”
From our perspective, even with IBM”s services resources, large organizations are likely facing long and painful integrations with the combined IBM/Unica solution. Integrating disparate technologies is always hard, and particularly so in this case due to the already-siloed and fractured technologies that exist within the Unica platform. Layer on top of that IBM’s other priorities – adding SPSS, CoreMetrics, and Sterling Commerce to its analytics fold.
And, if large enterprises are going to struggle to achieve ROI from this solution, you can only imagine the plight of often resource constrained mid-enterprise organizations – those with mature marketing processes that are tasked with managing multiple product lines, diverse geographies and languages. Marketers at mid-enterprise organizations most certainly don’t have the stomach for monolithic implementation cycles. They need the benefits of automation, and the ability to rapidly demonstrate ROI now, not two years from now.
One of the fundamental reasons why marketing automation software adoption has been slow is that many technology providers have failed to realize that the marketing discipline has one very unique technology requirement that separates it from its functional brethren within an organization – it needs to be evolutive. Other functional disciplines, such as Finance for example, can weather a long implementation of many months or years because they know once it is up and running, there will be limited changes that are required.
Not so with marketing software – it needs to change sometimes daily. Marketers must continuously keep reinventing what they do and how they do it as they are on the front lines of reacting to changing customer needs and purchase behaviors. Therefore, a marketing automation software implementation that takes years to implement (or even many months) with limited configuration flexibility and scalability for growth doesn’t pass the smell test to most marketing leaders today.
It is therefore interesting that IBM has jumped into the marketing automation space, as one doesn’t exactly associate the Big Blue brand with providing solutions that would be described as nimble. Nonetheless, this corroborates what Neolane has long known – there is a definitive and growing need for software that helps marketers increase profitability, improve operational efficiency, and respond effectively to change.
We welcome IBM into the space as it actually creates great opportunities for providers such as Neolane, simply by calling more attention to this fast-growing market. And, it will drive talent movement throughout the industry as IBM tries to determine how to organize its newly acquired human resources. In the end, this all drives a more competitive market space and therefore better solutions for marketers.
The strength of Neolane’s solution speaks for itself in the number of customers who continue to select us, against vendors like Unica. Neolane is one of the only remaining independent vendors devoted to providing b2b and b2c marketers with the right technology that not only delivers rapid ROI, but also demonstrates the business impact that marketing has on operational efficiency and profitability.
Our solutions are easy-to-use and can support marketers’ needs today and in the years to come, enabling them to nimbly respond no matter what new communications channels, market dynamics, or competitive pressures come their way. With Neolane, users can focus on the job of marketing. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Let me know your thoughts.