Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unica Strategy Stays the Course

I recently caught up with Unica Vice President Andrew Hally as part of my review of developments at the major marketing automation vendors. It’s been a good year for Unica, which will break $100 million in annual revenue for the first time. On the product front, they continue their long-time strategy of offering all the software a marketing department would need. This has mostly meant incremental development of existing components, including continued assimilation of past years’ acquisitions in Web analytics, email, marketing planning, lead management, and event detection. The one major acquisition in 2007 was Marketing Central, which provides hosted marketing resource management. This was well within Unica’s traditional scope, although the “hosted” part is a bit of a change. It will help Unica serve smaller companies in addition to its traditional enterprise clients. But since Unica must penetrate this segment to continue growing, this is less a detour from the company’s primary strategy than a logical extension of it.

Hally did say that Unica still sees substantial growth potential among large enterprises. He said the company still frequently finds itself replacing home-grown systems at big companies, not just earlier generations of purchased campaign management systems. This surprises me a bit, although I suppose many firms never saw the need to replace systems that were already working. I do wonder how many of the holdouts will change their minds each year. If the number is small, then Unica and its competitors will be mostly selling into a replacement market, which can’t be very large. On the other hand, continued demand for new capabilities in Web and mobile marketing should lead companies to replace even relatively new systems. So perhaps the replacement market will be bigger than it seems. Certainly Unica has added features for email and Web analytics. But it still has gaps in ad serving, keyword management, and mobile. Acquisitions in those areas would not be surprising.

Probably the most interesting development Hally reported was a sharp rise in sales for Unica’s Affinium Detect, an event-detection system based on the Elity software acquired with MarketSoft in 2005. Hally said Detect is now Unica’s third-best-selling product, with one to two dozen installations. This compares with the handful that Elity had sold when it was independent. He attributed the growth both to increased demand and to the reduced risk marketers see in buying from Unica. He also reported the product has been sold for telecommunication and credit card applications, in addition to the traditional retail banking.

While at NCDM, I also took a look at Unica’s newest module, an ad hoc reporting package called Affinium Insight. This provides some basic visualization and analysis capabilities for non-technical users. It is designed to free up marketing analysts for more demanding work by giving business users a simple graphical interface linked to data marts assembled with standard Unica technology. The interface resembles the NetTracker Web analytics system Unica acquired with Sane Solutions in 2006.

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