Monday, August 16, 2010

IBM to Acquire Enterprise Marketing Management Leader Unica for $480M. Who Could Be The Next Target?

IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Unica Corporation (NASDAQ:UNCA) last Friday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for IBM to acquire Unica in a cash transaction at a price of $21 per share, or at a net price of approximately $480 million, after adjusting for cash. A publicly held company in Waltham, Mass., Unica will expand IBM's ability to help organizations analyze and predict customer preferences and develop more targeted marketing campaigns. This is an industry categorized as Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) where Unica was one of the largest pure plays. EMM includes the business strategies, workflow process automation and technologies required to effectively operate a marketing division, optimize resources, execute demand generation and drive enhanced marketing performance.

With the soft economy, few companies are considering EMM as a platform for the entire marketing function, because it can be difficult to prove return-on-investment (ROI) immediately except for campaign management and lead management that are quicker to implement.

The acquisition, which is subject to Unica shareholder approval, applicable regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010. Following IBM's last weaker earnings release, we published a post signaling about IBM's strategic push toward more software acquisitions on July 22 (IBM to Buy More Software Firms. Can IBM Compete with Oracle?). So this came as no surprise to us and is only the beginning in our view.

IBM has successfully transformed the revenue mix: services and software now accounts for 80% of revenues and 90% of profitability. Their increasing focus on software acqusitions should help fuel profitable growth provided they go for substantially larger deals competing with Oracle.

According to IBM, today's leading organizations place a high value on a consistent and relevant customer experience. They must continuously focus on enhancing their brand by responding quickly to marketplace changes and differentiating themselves through more targeted, personalized marketing campaigns. In order to achieve this, marketing professionals are increasingly investing in technology to automate and manage marketing planning and execution to help them better analyze customer preferences and trends and in turn, predict buying needs and drive relevant campaigns.

To meet this demand, IBM is assembling transformational capabilities to help clients create this consistent and relevant cross-channel brand experience to promote customer loyalty and satisfaction. With sophisticated analytics and marketing process improvement, the combination of IBM and Unica will help clients streamline and integrate key processes including relationship marketing, online marketing and marketing operations.

Building on this extensive industry expertise, Unica has more than 1,500 global customers across a wide range of industries including financial services, insurance, retail telecommunications, travel and hospitality. Customers include Best Buy, eBay, ING, Monster, Starwood and US Cellular.

This acquisition expands IBM's growing portfolio of industry software solutions designed to help companies automate, manage, and accelerate core business processes across marketing, demand generation, sales, order processing and fulfillment. This acquisition along with IBM's recent acquisitions of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics will enhance IBM's ability to support customers increasing demands in this growing market.

"IBM understands the demands on today's organizations to transform core business processes in functions such as marketing with intelligence and automation," said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions. "Unica was a clear choice for IBM based on its power to automate a broad set of marketing capabilities and its established reputation for delivering customer success in marketing to organizations around the world."

"Unica's focus is to help our customers deliver marketing messages so relevant that they are perceived as a service to our clients' customers," said Yuchun Lee, CEO, Unica Corp. "Together with IBM, we will bring our leading enterprise marketing management solutions to a wider set of customers worldwide and with a much broader, more comprehensive portfolio."

Unica's 500 employees will be integrated into IBM's Software Solutions Group, which includes a range of industry-focused offerings. Unica software will complement the capabilities of IBM's Business Analytics and Optimization Consulting organization - a team of 5,000 consultants and a network of analytics solution centers, backed by an overall investment of more than $11 billion in acquisitions in the last five years.

Overall, Unica is a good acquisition given its organic and inorganic growth track, technical platform quality, ability to sell it outright or as software-as-a-services (SaaS). Some of the shortfalls would be addressed by IBM which brings to the merger a vast global reseller and systems integrator partner channel and robust software sales and marketing management capability.

Following this acquisition, there are a few firms that would make attractive target as well as a much needed counter-move for SAP and of course Oracle.

We will be publishing a separate post on this topic.

Tell your colleagues you first heard it on


dicto said...

Carbon accounting software & sustainability analytics firms are likely acquisition targets. There are over 50 companies in the space.

EJ said...

Big corporations are gobbling up more and more smaller enterprises. Could this be good in the long run? There is no doubt, however, that channel partners will benefit and with them are the channel management services providers.