August 13, 2010

My take, IBM buys Unica and what it means

A lot of people are talking about IBM buying Unica and what it means to Enterprise Marketing Management.  I know there is a lot of bashing going about on this deal – there is no bashing here.  Only some honest perspective from someone who has been inside IBM.   As a former IBMer, Unica expert and marketer, I think most of the stuff out there is missing a number of points and does not remotely consider the acquisition’s depth and breadth.

1.  IBM is the largest Unica implementation (I think…), but while that gives us perspective, it does not give IBM a delivery model translating the internal capability outward. While IBM has done that in cases, the business model for sending marketers into the field to do campaign building, user adoption and knowledge transfer is not proven. And not likely. It is fairly challenging to free up Marketing resources to do consulting work.  In the short term, expect the model to rely on Unica professional services (which has been shrinking) and partners (like my employer covalent marketing – where we have 100% project success on Unica implementations…)

2. You need to examine where in the software portfolio Unica ends up. Unica has to sit in a software sales stack – that’s just IBM’s way of allocating revenue,  people and support.  While most outsiders would see Unica it in its own vein, and it might grow to that (it might not be big enough to warrant it now), it was not bought for the Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) side of the house (who are trying to own the marketing relationships).  It will sit closer to the web stack.  Most people say – oh, Core Metrics – bad assumption.  Try iLog and Websphere Commerce and Web Management and Social Media apps.  Connecting Unica to those pieces is where the big money sits.  Being able to detect and trigger campaign events to parties of one – bring it on…

You’ll likely see more blending on Unica Campaign Reporting and Dahsboarding through Cognos (which has received a platform overhaul and looks pretty good now).  You won’t see SPSS and Unica Model/Optimize try to duke it out.  However, SPSS is the probably the stronger functionality wise, even if it is not for the *average* marketer.  That will likely take place in the background, and I am not predicting who wins.  I just hope the average marketer (not the average modeler) is considered.

This even gets to a smarter planet approach, my friends.  What happens when sensors detect that a power grid is likely to be reaching brownout stages?  Is there a way to alert those affected via SMS, TV messaging, phone call, email?  Now, there is…

Unica’s Universal Dynamic Interconnect means it can easily connect to a lot of platforms – and middleware – without a great deal of re-architecting…that will help it gain traction in the portfolio faster.

3. Unica’s largest implementer of EMM globally? Accenture. Enough said.

4. This deal changes Unica’s ability to get into Managed Business Process Services – for both small and mid tier clients through the cloud. Given the initial Red Pill acquisition, which was a MBPS acquisition, this functionality could expand outsourcing capabilities.  Now, Unica has been promoting these types of partnerships rather heavily, including at the Marketing Summit earlier this year.   A lot of the data and database service providers can see this as a threat or a promise (Experian, Acxiom, Harte Hanks, Merkle).    They can benefit from getting earlier alignment with IBM in terms of the right portfolio depth.  For them, it’s not about servers and software.  Its about data exchange and integration…

4. Unica has not managed to offer deep functionality in a cloud based service yet. IBM can make that a reality.  IBM’s got one of the most baked cloud offerings out there.  And if IBM can marry a small but solid Cognos offering to a small but solid Unica offering for SMB, there’s a home run.

5. IBM has a creative agency team with global reach and deployment to supplement complete program efforts.  So, if someone needs a campaign in 62 languages and 100 countries by next week, deployed and out the door…IBM can now not only serve it, and create it, they can help target and deliver it…

6. IBM also has a full complement of social software, with more in the pipeline.

So, while a lot of people are talking about who will IBM buy next, I think the question is how quickly can IBM make Unica  central part of the stack for sales and delivery.  The sales side is easier.  And I for one am volunteering our company to help them on the delivery side.  -c-

You find this post on Cristene’s Blog by going here.