Silverpop - IBM Affirms the Important, Emerging Role of Marketing Automation
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IBM Affirms the Important, Emerging Role of Marketing Automation

Bill Nussey, Silverpop
by: Bill Nussey (@bnussey)
13 August 2010

My colleagues and I were excited to learn this morning about IBM's acquisition of Unica -- a company that we respect in our space and that also has been a Silverpop partner for a number of years.  This deal is important validation of the role that marketing automation technology is playing in the future of marketing, in the near term, and also in the future of how businesses manage their demand over the longer term.  It also highlights the emerging importance of analyzing and acting on the behaviors of customers -- and their linkages to revenues -- as the primary driver for marketing programs.

It's an interesting and not all too surprising move for IBM, if you have been following their activity over the last few years.  Their past acquisitions, including Cognos, SPSS and Coremetrics, have been very focused on the collection and analysis of consumer and B2B buyer behavior.  With the acquisition of Unica, IBM clearly is acknowledging that the next step as a marketer, once you have strong insights, is to be able to act on those insights.  Unica's strengths in marketing resource management and in enterprise marketing management positions it well to help begin to bridge that gap.

[caption id="attachment_877" align="alignright" width="234" caption="Source: Silverpop"]Source:  Silverpop[/caption]

It's also clear that this move is very much an enterprise story.  We saw a similar move earlier this summer when Oracle “joined the party” with its acquisition of Market2Lead. Both Unica and Market2Lead targeted the largest enterprises -- which have massive global marketing organizations and incredible marketing operations complexity.  In these use cases, services and technology go hand-in-hand, as do core capabilities around marketing resource management and enterprise marketing management.  So it makes sense for the two to pair up with Oracle and IBM.

Whereas global enterprises have both complex challenges and large amounts of resources, the story is different when you move beyond the Fortune 1000.  Growth-stage companies need sophisticated processes and technologies that will help them do more with less, and efficiently build demand with marketing teams that can range from 3 to 10 employees -- often on the lower end of that range.  They also need flexible/agile infrastructure -- the type that SaaS providers are bringing to the market.  And they need education and resources to be empowered -- a point Adam Needles highlighted on this blog earlier today.

It's great to see growing attention being paid to marketing infrastructure, to the management of demand and to the importance of linking behaviors to revenue outcomes.  And I'm pleased to see marketing automation emerging as the catalyst for this new direction in marketing.

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