We all know the opening part of Pope’s often-quoted adage. Certainly some acquisitions in the enterprise marketing technology arena are now looking like foolish decisions. In yesterday’s 2015 trading update, SDL announced it will sell multiple products that are “non-core to its future strategy,” including social intelligence, campaign management, and its Fredhopper eCommerce recommendation engine. SDL paid $110 million for the first two solutions when it completed its acquisition of Alterian in early 2012. The SDL announcement echoes Teradata’s similar announcement in November to sell its marketing application division. Teradata acquired Aprimo in late 2010 for $525 million, and then added smaller acquisitions of eCircle, Argyle Social, Ozone, Apoxxee, and FLXone – the last pick-up coming less than one month before the sell-off announcement.

Why are companies divorcing themselves from enterprise marketing technologies, given the growing investments in this space – both by end user organizations that are composing marketing technology ecosystems and by vendors who are assembling marketing cloud portfolios?  In the SDL and Teradata cases, it comes down to one word: focus. SDL will focus on its core services and technology strengths for language translation and content management. Teradata will redouble its efforts in the data warehousing and big data analytics arena, where open source and cloud disruptions have taken their toll on its historic leadership position. See my Quick Take on the Teradata announcement for more details.

Both SDL and Teradata had good intentions; the former tried to integrate multiple technology acquisitions to create its Customer Experience Cloud, and the latter had a similar strategy for its Integrated Marketing Cloud. Ultimately, neither could commit enough of its strategic resources to stay the course in the competitive enterprise marketing technology space. Gone are the days when marketing applications were considered add-on purchases. Enterprise marketing technology investments are serious considerations, and CMOs and CIOs alike expect vendors to act as strategic partners who can help them accomplish their customer-focused business objectives.

With extensive convergence – and now divergence – in the market, it’s difficult to compare enterprise marketing technology options and evaluate vendor road maps. To support your efforts, I’m currently working on updates to the Forrester Wave™ evaluations for cross-channel campaign management and enterprise marketing software suites. We’ll publish these reports in Q2 2016. In the meantime, if you have questions, feel free to send me an email or set up an inquiry to discuss the enterprise marketing technology landscape. If you are considering enterprise marketing software investments and want to discuss priorities, challenges, or vendor capabilities, we’re here to help.