The 4 Most Provocative Blog Posts About the IBM Acquisition of Unica

by contributor on August 16, 2010 in Revenue Performance Management

Much has been said about IBM announcing plans to buy Unica.  We thought we’d provide a service to our readers and reduce the clutter by curating some of the most provocative analyses in a single post.  To be clear, these thought-leaders don’t necessarily see the news the same way as Eloqua does, but each makes a compelling point worthy of consideration and discussion.

We’d like to hear what expert blogs we overlooked.  What though-provoking perspectives have caught your imagination?  Lastly, note that the below list is in no particular order. 

1. Jonathan Block of SiriusDecisions

  • Title: IBM to Acquire Unica
  • Why read it: Jonathan simplifies, without oversimplifying, the logic behind the acquisition. 
  • Conclusion: “This could be the tipping point we’ve been predicting.”
  • Best line: “So will this acquisition start a domino effect? Most likely, but the row of dominoes is fairly short.”

2. Joe Stanhope of Forrester Research (with Suresh Vittal)

  • Title: Suresh Vittal and Joe Stanhope Consider The News of IBM Acquiring Unica
  • Why read it: Joe’s decisiveness (e.g., “Let’s make one thing clear from the outset – this acquisition is about Unica’s marketing automation and operations solutions not necessarily about the Web analytics products.”).
  • Conclusion:  “The acquisition of Unica absolutely reinforces IBM’s assertion that they committing to marketing solutions and the CMO.”
  • Best line:  “As with Coremetrics and many other IBM acquisitions, Unica is a small fish in a very large pond.  A $96 Billion, 400,000 employee pond.”

3. Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz of Covalent Marketing

  • Title:  My take: IBM Buys Unica and What it Means
  • Why read it: The perspective of a (former) IBM insider.
  • Conclusion:  The acquisition could have farther-reaching implications (e.g., “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?”).
  • Best line:  “Connecting Unica to (iLog, Websphere Commerce, social media) is where the big money sits.”

4. David Raab of Raab Associates

  • Title: IBM Buys Unica: Will Acquisitions Now Shift to B2B Marketing Automation?
  • Why read it: David’s attitude.  He challenges other big thinkers (“I’m looking at you, Jonathan Block of SiriusDecisions ”) and explores fresh angles (“…this acquisition may spur Web content management vendors to accelerate their own acquisition of marketing automation capabilities”).
  • Conclusion:  “(This) acquisition is basically the completion of the consolidation of (the B2C) space, not the start of consolidation among B2B marketing automation vendors.”
  • Best line:  “This is wholly unsurprising: as the last and only big independent left in its space, Unica was obvious acquisition bait.”

What’s my personal favorite analysis?  Well, of course it’s Stanhope’s comment, “The multiple IBM is paying for Unica is also encouraging. Why? Follow up deals, renewed interest from mainstream media that generates broader awareness, follow up investments that spur innovation all make this acquisition good news for Unica’s competitors and the adjacent categories.”

Which thought leaders do you agree (or disagree) with most?  Do you have an analysis of your own?  Share it here.


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  • mrhoffman

    IBM had the Unica functionality and then some but has been unsuccessful getting marketers and related disciplines to the table – CMO’s, DB marketing, Agencies, etc.
    IBM needs to quickly change sales and professional services model to capitalize on acquisition so as not to just add “Unica” to IBM menu.
    Having been to IBM labs a number of times (once as Unica user and advocate) I find it hard to see how Unica is folded in to make any dent in current offerings – Unica’s user typically only use individual part of packaged system so there are opportunities to cross-sell services and next generation systems – like BPM tied to marketing and continuous optimization (Unica Affinium story – but few customers ever got there and products did not work cross-functionally).

  • Mark Smith

    I think the point is that IBM is investing over a $1b in acquisitions and resouces to gain credibility in the marketing organization which is good for the industry. They have to prove they can do this properly and demonstrate continuing investment to marketing which is a new place for them to operate. For Eloqua this actually elevates the opportunity to grow B2C presence and maintain growth in B2B markets. This was basically opposite of Unica who had more business in B2C and was expanding into B2B. If IBM does not execute with acquisition, then Eloqua has more opportunity as a dedicated provider to marketing. Not The real question is what SAP and will do to ratchet up their offering as they have not been effective in meeting enterprise and large scale needs in marketing along with investing into newer lead nurturing/scoring needs in a process and automated fashion as I point out in my blog. sure any of this or the other blogs are provocative but more practical guidance on the reality of this market, and having been a previous VP Marketing and CMO, I guess that is what I would want to hear in advice and guidance!

  • Joe Chernov

    Michael & Mark,

    Thank you both for your insightful comments. We’re thrilled to have attracted such influential readers to our blog. Mark, doubly sorry that our spam trap got overzealous and snagged your thoughtful post. Agree: We see this move as potentially a very good thing for Eloqua’s business. Thrilled you see it similarly!


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