IBM has announced its intent to acquire marketing automation company Silverpop for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition is — on the surface — just another tactical play by a large marketing technology vendor to bring on additional capabilities to support a strategic platform narrative. While Forrester clients can look for our analysis of this announcement in a forthcoming Quick Take — which I will be publishing in collaboration with my colleague Lori Wizdo — Forrester’s initial thought on the news is that we’re not surprised. Given that the various competitors in this space have been adding capabilities left and right through acquisitions, IBM is simply doing the same — checking the box to build out an expansive product line portfolio. The marketing automation vendor landscape (both business-to-business [B2B] and business-to-consumer) shrinks further, and we continue to wait for examples and proof that these mega vendors can deliver the integration they promise.
So what does Silverpop bring to IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management solution?
  • A 100% software-as-a-service solution that IBM can sell immediately, which is in keeping with IBM’s stated commitment to move to the cloud.
  • Email service capability that is stronger than that currently available in Unica — though questions remain about how Silverpop’s ownership and storage of data will work with much larger clients with existing data warehouses.
  • The vision (with some technical execution) for customer profiles based on behavioral attributes, a topic that Silverpop pioneered but has left open for others to claim a lead.
  • A credible offering for B2B marketing automation. 
  • Access to midmarket firms that IBM has not previously targeted — though we’re dubious about whether that is actually a competitive advantage for IBM at this juncture.
The sustained consolidation happening in this space meant that it was really just a matter of time until Silverpop was snatched up — and IBM is a logical fit. IBM’s decision to acquire Silverpop was certainly a sound one. But it’s not altogether sure that it will be a transformational one.
Forrester clients, look for our deeper analysis on what this means for marketers early next week. If you're reading this and happen to be in attendance at our Forum for Marketing Leaders, come find Lori or me to talk further!