Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unica 8.0 Offers New, More Unified Interface

Summary: Unica's new release has few functional enhancements but offers better integration of previously separate components.

Unica on Monday officially launched the 8.0 version of its enterprise marketing suite. The main thrust of the new release was visual – a new company Web site and graphics and, more important, a new interface that finally unified the various components the vendor has built and purchased over the years.

I can’t get too excited about the new visuals, which stress the “U” in Unica in phrases like “Discover the U in business”. The unified interface is better news, although it corrects a problem that I feel should have been solved long ago.

The new release does provide some substantive improvements. The most important is a central offer repository linked to cell-level campaign planning. This makes it easier to track the use and performance of standard offers. The planning is also now integrated with actual campaign designs, saving marketers some work as they move from one stage to the next. That’s good, although I think it’s fair to note that it's been two years since Unica purchased its MarketingCentral planning system.

The other major news involves improvements in the company’s eMessage email system. These include a central content repository, conditional text within system-built emails, better response tracking, and deliverability monitoring services from Pivotal Veracity. Integration is still a bit of an issue here – the email content repository is separate from the central offer repository, the conditional text rules engine is separate from the campaign rules builder, and conditional text rules cannot be shared across documents.

On the other hand, Unica has tightly coupled email execution to its campaign suite: in fact, the only way users can send emails via anyone except Unica is to export a file. Previous versions of the system allowed tighter integration with external email services. Unica sees this as simplifying the lives of its clients, although I suspect some may prefer to choose their own provider. The company said that 50 to 100 of its 500-600 campaign clients currently use its email delivery service. The balance will have to convert when they upgrade to Unica 8.0, or resort to the afore-mentioned file exports.

Pricing remains largely the same as previous Unica releases: clients pay for individual modules based primarily on database size. The one substantial change is the email services will now be based on email volume.

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