This has been the year of the end user in marketing automation. Interfaces are more user-friendly, vendors are following customers to the Web, and solutions are more pain-point focused. Vendors are embracing the importance of keeping customers happy as the market becomes more consolidated--Unica's acquisition of Sane Solutions, for example. Bruce Biegel, senior marketing director at Winterberry Group, says, "Continued consolidation is making end users cautious in selection--creating confusion and slowing adoption." To speed sales, vendors have been focusing on online integration and marketing resource management (MRM) adoption. Sheryl Kingstone, director of enterprise research at Yankee Group, summarizes today's bottom line for the vendors in this space: "They have to differentiate themselves through customer experience."
Marketing Automation: The Chart
One to Watch
After two straight years on the leaderboard, SAP fell off the grid a bit. Despite moves last year to grow out marketing applications, the company spent more resources focusing on its strengths in CRM and ERP, and fell short of blossoming into a fully fledged marketing automation vendor. "They are missing some loyalty," says Kingstone, who calls the firm "very much an ERP vendor." However, with a broad customer base, a strong direction, and growing software revenues, SAP may reassert itself in the coming year. Forrester's Vittal says that, as far as marketing automation goes, "this is still relatively new for them."
Aprimo, which Kingstone calls the "leader in MRM," proved itself worthy of this praise in 2007. Comfortably ensconced on the leaderboard, Aprimo continues to expand its breadth and functionality while staying true to its pure-play marketing roots. The company added an offer management application with the release of Aprimo Marketing 7.6, as well as releasing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version with Aprimo Marketing Professional Edition. "[By] integrating functions of planning, financials, brand-asset management, analytics, and project management on a powerful EMM platform," says Aimee Roberts, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, "Aprimo has taken marketing automation to the next level."
Another year deeper into its Fusion development process with its Siebel Systems acquisition, Oracle has shown strong focus on marketing solutions. What was a jumble of two vendors last year is now becoming streamlined into a cohesive vision. In 2007, Oracle has paid special attention to the retail sector, releasing Oracle Retail with help from its Retek and ProfitLogic acquisitions. Although some cite the company's direction as still being hazy, all agree on the high level of the vendor's potential. "It has a strong promise," says Suresh Vittal, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It's still one of the best marketing applications available that's embedded into a suite."
SAS Institute's strategy of delivering solutions to answer specific problems served the company well this year, positioning the vendor as a clear leader in the category. Coming off its 30th straight year of revenue growth in 2006, SAS revved up its targeted offerings in a number of verticals, such as academics, finance, technology, and manufacturing. Still, Forrester's Vittal acknowledges that SAS has a few kinks to work out. "It's really hard to use," he says. "But it's a great company and they're doing a lot of great work."
After flying from the nest of parent company NCR this year, Teradata has shown that, in terms of marketing automation, it's a baby bird that can really soar. "I think the spin-off is good for them," Kingstone says. Although Teradata will continue to stick to its traditional data-warehousing roots after the separation, high levels of customer satisfaction in marketing automation will likely drive heightened focus on marketing solutions as well. Teradata in the past has been criticized by analysts for being slow-moving to market, and many agree the company will need to be quicker and more aggressive in the future. "They have a lot of customer success," Vittal says, "but they still need to work on their real-time applications."
Unica, once again, nabbed the top spot with little contest, achieving the highest scores in all categories. Unica's flagship solution, Affinium, continues to prove a favorite in the marketplace. Frost & Sullivan's Roberts says the suite "integrates Web and customer analytics, campaign management, lead management, and core MRM to meet the growing demands of global marketers." Unica continues to upgrade and build out its suite, this year enhancing Affinium Campaign Collaborate as well as Affinium Plan. Although some analysts note that the vendor is still a bit behind in Web analytics, Unica recently took strides to combat this functionality gap with the release of Affinium NetInsight 7.2 for e-marketers in June. With a near-perfect score of 4.4 in company direction--a score taken even before the summer acquisition of boutique MRM specialist MarketingCentral--it's doubtful that this powerhouse will shrink anytime soon.