It’s a well-known adage: History repeats itself.
Ask anyone who’s been in the corporate world for awhile, and they’ll tell you the same thing: History repeats itself – especially in the technology business.
A few weeks ago, the marketplace was buzzing with the news that Adobe is planning to acquire Neolane. But, for me, this was one of those times when history was doing what history does best: repeating itself.
After all, we’ve seen this type of acquisition several times before in recent years –when Oracle purchased Eloqua earlier this year, and before that when salesforce.com bought ExactTarget. In fact, it’s precisely the same kind of move Teradata Corp. made in this space several years ago when we acquired Aprimo in 2011, and then eCircle in 2012.
I suppose I don’t consider acquisitions like these “breaking news” because category consolidation is anything but a new phenomenon – particularly in IT, where it has been happening over and over again. Sure, at first, the announcements always make for bold headlines, and yes, it only makes sense that initially, customers are left wondering about potential impacts. But what are the lingering effects?
Let’s take a look at the broader Applications sectors out there.
Human Resources Applications. Remember when SAP bought SuccessFactors to create a comprehensive Human Capital Management solution back in 2011? Two months later, Oracle acquired Taleo, a move that was described as a “counterweight” to that SAP deal.
MRP/ERP Applications. It’s hard to believe it was more than a decade ago that Microsoft bought Great Plains. That sale was followed by PeopleSoft’s purchase of J.D. Edwards & Co. in 2003, an acquisition which, at the time, created the world's second largest enterprise application software company. That didn’t last long, however, because – rather immediately – there was a hostile takeover, and Oracle gobbled up PeopleSoft. Later, Infor and Lawson joined forces, as well.
CRM Applications. The big news here occurred in 2005 when Oracle swallowed Siebel, a deal that was “drastically easier” than PeopleSoft.
As you can see, all these categories went through a growth period followed by consolidation, just as is happening with Marketing Automation applications today. At first, the landscape was dotted with start-ups. The successful ones thrived and eventually merged or were acquired. But then what? Did all start-up activity just cease to exist? Absolutely not. Interestingly enough, after all these consolidations, we’re seeing start-ups springing up once again (particularly in CRM).
Clearly, even when huge vendors integrate technologies into their already sizeable product portfolios, creativity and new ideas don’t stop. Instead, it appears exactly the opposite happens. New ideas seem to get a jolt, almost like an infusion of energy.
And so you see, there it is again, history repeating itself – this time as consolidation breeds innovation.
That’s why I’m keeping my eye on all these newly-consolidated categories. As I see it, it now all boils down to data ... and how companies are going to use data to improve the customer experience.
Today’s businesses need Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) solutions for everything from marketing operations to customer interaction management and digital messaging. Why? Because engagement with customers (viz a viz their data and preferences) is the new lifeblood for today’s far-flung enterprises. That’s why IMM needs to be backed by powerful data warehousing and analytics capabilities that can be integrated to improve the customer experience, extend the supply chain and help workers make sense of the data they’ve got.
IMM is a multi-billion-dollar market, and a strategic growth area for savvy enterprises that choose to leverage all their data for improved business insights and profits.
Yes, consolidation in marketing applications may not be “stop the presses” news anymore, but it should be welcome news, both to investors and C-suite decision makers, as it validates our category, our strategy as it relates to the absolute value of data today and the decisions our customers have made to take a data-driven approach that delivers business ROI.