Home With Unica, IBM Adds Marketing Automation to its Software Portfolio

With Unica, IBM Adds Marketing Automation to its Software Portfolio

IBM made its entrance into the fast growing enterprise marketing automaton market yesterday with its purchase of Unica for $480 million.

Citing industry estimates, IBM says the enterprise marketing management software market is worth $2.5 billion and doubling in size on an annual basis. That growth demonstrates how fast companies are moving marketing operations online.

As they move online, more customers are looking for ways to automate the business processes that come with managing online relationships.

Unica is a company that describes itself as one that helps customers understand what makes their “customers tick and leverage that understanding to engage buyers in highly relevant, interactive dialogs across digital, social, and traditional marketing channels.”

It is one of the more well-established marketing automation companies. Founded in 1992, the company has 1,500 customers.

In its announcement, IBM cited how Unica fits well with previous acquisitions:

The acquisition of Unica supports IBM’s recent acquisitions of Coremetrics
and AT&T’s Sterling Commerce. This expanding portfolio, combined with
IBM’s WebSphere Commerce software aims to help companies automate, manage,
and accelerate core business processes across marketing, demand generation,
sales, order processing and fulfillment.

IBM is preparing a portfolio that they hope will appeal to the chief marketing officer who faces one of the most disruptive times in modern marketing history. Television changed marketing in the post-war boom; today it’s the Internet that is driving change. To adjust, companies are relying more on services to manage the business processes that go with cultivating online relationships.

Altimeter analyst Ray Wang was quoted in Computerworld as saying:

IBM’s move to buy Unica will help round out a portfolio of software that captures the “digital transformation” chief marketing officers and service providers face.”

Over the past several months we had two opportunities to interview Steve Mills, senior VP of the IBM Software Group. He has lead IBM’s software group since 2000. Since 2003, IBM has acquired more than 65 software companies. IBM projects its software business will become almost half of IBM’s profits by 2015.

Last Spring, we spoke with Mills at IBM’s Rational Software conference. Mills pointed to the deep impact that the Internet is having on IBM and its customers. He called social media a megatrend, expressed further commitment to RESTAPis and referred to the need for more tools in interactive marketing.

That view of the market points to why IBM acquired Unica. Companies will increasingly need high powered systems to keep track of the online campaigns that will only become more numerous.

Marketing automation is also getting the attention of a number of vendors besides IBM.

As Business Week points out:

“Vendors such as Adobe are making similar moves. In support of its “customer experience management” strategy, Adobe has purchased Web analytics provider Omniture and more recently, Web content management vendor Day Software.”

Salesforce.com is pursuing the marketing automation market. It’s noticeable at its events. Companies such as Pardot and Marketo are there in force.

There is no shortage of offerings for the chief marketing officer to choose from. Part of the diffferentiation will come down to how IBM’s analytics platform can leverage customer data. If analytics can be tied in effectively, the real-time capability to create micro campaigns will even further accelerate demand for these kinds of marketing automation products.

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