As anyone in the marketing automation sector will have seen, Pardot has been acquired by ExactTarget for $95m, which represents a superb exit for David Cummings and the Pardot team, who got to that exit with no significant external funding. Whilst it doesn’t appear to be immediately a great fit, as ExactTarget focus on mid-to-large B2C clients, and Pardot target small-to-mid B2B clients, Cummings says there is a perfect match when it comes to culture. It is a clear statement of ExactTarget’s intent to move into the B2B arena, just as many are seeing the larger B2B players (eg Eloqua and Marketo) up their game on the B2C side.
Largely missed by other reports was ExactTarget’s simultaneous acquisition of iGoDigital for around $21m, a personalisation platform for eCommerce which use predictive analytics to recommend the best product recommendations to each user on every channel, competing directly with Baynote and Certona. This move mirrors that of Emailvision (a $100m+ multi-channel marketing provider, which bought SmartFocus last year) which purchased predictive analytics technology PredictiveIntent last week, as well.
The moves represent a growing trend of ‘marketing operating systems’ (whether they be called Marketing Automation or Campaign Management) introducing real-time predictive capabilities to provide intelligence to their operational platforms. According to Forrester, behavioral personalization is the biggest concern in marketing, where optimising the customer experience and relevance of communications at scale is moving beyond the capabilities of traditional rules-based systems. Significant additional investment is required to transform these product recommendation platforms into true real-time decision management, powering both relevant offers and targeted content, which represents a serious big data challenge. Fortunately for those interested in getting a head start, idio has been building a real-time decisioning platform for marketing for the last 6 years, which handles the one-to-one personalisation of all customer communications… but we don’t like to blow our own trumpet.
In many ways these recent acquisitions are repeating the history of CRM. In the early 2000′s the maturing CRM market saw the opportunity of adding real-time predictive intelligence to their suites to help the sales organisation better handle the customer experience. Several members of the idio team came from KiQ, the decisioning engine that produced great success in the call centre operations of major banks and telcos, and was acquired by Chordiant, then subsequently Pegasystems. Back then, KiQ provided a layer of intelligence to enable CRM systems to recommend the “Next Best Action” within contact centre’s and online environments. There are many parallels to draw as the new generation of marketing operating systems are starting to look more closely at “Next Best Content“.
There are still a couple of large players in the marketing automation/campaign management space with no decisioning capability. So we expect to see further consolidation and strategic partnerships as vendors respond to the emerging market need: powering personalized communications – in marketing as well as in sales – at a huge scale.
Watch this space.