Friday’s announcement by IBM that it would acquire predictive marketing services provider Unica for $480 million seemed like just another day at Big Blue as of late. The computer giant has been eating up e-commerce technology providers right and left.
Let’s take a look at the stats:
IBM this summer purchased Coremetrics for an estimated $150 million.
In May, it bought Sterling Commerce, a vendor that helps retailers connect with customers and suppliers, from AT&T Inc. for $1.4 billion.
Last fall, it purchased predictive web analytics vendor SPSS for $1.2 billion.
IBM isn’t alone, however. In fact, it looks a lot like its competitors.
In the second quarter, the marketing technology field posted 31 acquisitions, according to investment bank Petsky Prunier, making it the most active segment among the seven marketing, information and digital media industries monitored in the second quarter by the investment bank.
31. That’s one every three days,
Here’s a sampling: E-commerce platform technology and services provider GSI Commerce Inc. bought Fetchback, an ad retargeting company; personalization technology provider MyBuys acquired network optimization company Veruta; and community forum network company CrowdGather purchased ADISN, a provider of targeted marketing technology that encompasses data from social networks.
Ok, so there’s been a lot of buying and selling going on. Now for the important question. What does this mean for e-retailers? In particular, what does this mean for the customers of SPSS, Coremetrics, Sterling Commerce or any of the other providers IBM and others have snapped up? Have you, our readers and the retailers using the vendors, benefitted or suffered? Or, is it somewhere in between?
I, of course, have my own thoughts. First off, so many acquisitions could very well soon begin to lessen competition in the marketplace, leaving e-retailers with fewer choices. It also could mean e-commerce has become so important that even big players like IBM fear being left behind. However, the fact that these big companies are acquiring may also create opportunity for smaller technology vendors to go after smaller merchants.
But those are just a few of my hunches. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I’ve got no other way to pin down answers than by going straight to the source. Well, I could give IBM, GSI or any of the others a ring, but I’m pretty sure I know what their answers will be. You tell me.