IBM Discusses Tealeaf And CMO's Customer Experience Management Needs

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IBM Buys TealeafOn Wednesday, IBM continued its quest to build out an enterprise marketing system in support of the CMO by acquiring Tealeaf, an Internet and mobile commerce analytics firm. Read the release.

Jay Henderson, Strategy Director of IBM Digital Marketing, discussed the acquisition and its implications with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: What does the Tealeaf acquisition by IMB mean for the CMO?

JH: When we look broadly in the marketplace and the changes that the CMO is going through, one of the things that we absolutely see is the need for marketers to be able to continuously drive better customer experience across the web and mobile devices. That's in part because consumers have bigger expectations of the brands they interact with - as well as a proliferation of channels and devices.

When we look at how the role of marketers is changing, we see that customer experience as one of the key components. For [IBM], Tealeaf helps address customer experience management and extend our capabilities in a new direction.

It'll allow marketers to spot patterns, see issues in the website, or maybe mobile application design. And ultimately create more streamlined experiences across those devices.

How does the Tealeaf transaction work with existing IBM companies? I was thinking specifically Coremetrics and Unica. Where's the interface there?

So one of the great parts about this Tealeaf acquisition is it's complimentary. There are really no overlapping assets.

Tealeaf is providing that expert, very granular analysis of being able to play back individual sessions on websites to see what that user experience is like. Coremetrics compliments that with aggregate-level reporting, charts, graphs and interactive analysis. So across that playback of the individual sessions as well as rolling up those individual sessions into top line recording, it will all become the digital marketing and analytics of our solution.

We're going to use both of those approaches together in a single solution.

Then when you talk about how does it extend into some of the other parts of the Enterprise Marketing Management portfolio, understanding how those individuals are interacting with your digital brands creates the foundation for how you want to inform your marketing campaigns.

So your online behavior, people on your site expressing interest in products and services should be influencing how you match up what marketing messages or offers you're going to send to them. So you can take all of that information about those digital interactions and create customer profile attributes that can help drive better marketing within the Unica portfolio.

Then there's the extension outside of the enterprise marketing management portfolio into some of the other things that we can do from a selling process – so, analyzing WebSphere Commerce sessions using the Tealeaf solution as well as looking at service interactions so that you can understand and resolve service issues.

Do you you consider this end-to-end solution that you're putting together for the CMO ‑ a marketing automation solution? By marketing automation, I'm thinking about companies like – HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua or an ExactTarget. Do you think there's a fit with that sector?

The vendor map you just laid out covers a pretty wide swath of people. Several of the vendors you mentioned I think of as focused a little bit down market from where we are. So we're really focused around enterprise companies. I think some of them are also very B2B focused where we do both B2B and B2C - certainly the larger part of the business is large, consumer marketers, banks, retailers, telco, travel and leisure.

Then, the one anomaly in that mix was ExactTarget, who I think has a very robust email marketing business.

Certainly there are times when we might see some of those vendors competitively. But when you look at the core enterprise marketing automation space, there's a slightly different mix of vendors there. But absolutely would say that we're in that space, that we're a leader in that space.

So if you talk to Forester, Gartner, they'll both have us in the leader spots of their Magic Quadrant or Wave for that campaign management and marketing automation market. So absolutely, yeah.

So you think of the core here as marketing automation for B2C - you like that characterizaton?

Yes. It’s reflective of what we're doing.

A lot of CMOs… they may not be tech-oriented. Do you think enterprise solutions ‑ such as the one that IBM is putting together ‑ can activate or inspire “the big idea?”

From my perspective, the thing I see that's pretty interesting is for years the CMO has had this trusted advisor for creative -and that's their agency. What we're seeing is the role that technology plays has increased so much that marketers need a trusted advisor on technology matters. A big part of what you're seeing with the creation of this group within IBM, with the acquisitions that we're making, is a commitment to demonstrate to CMOs that IBM can be that trusted advisor for technology.

So in my mind, the importance of technology is inevitable. The CMOs who get it and who can adapt are likely to be the most successful. That doesn't necessarily mean they need to have all the skills themselves, but they need to be smart enough to surround themselves with the skills and the right partners.

Another popular acronym out there is CRM. Do you see any fit with what the Tealeaf acquisition means for CRM through IBM's product line?

Your classic definition of CRM is the integration of sales, marketing, and service. For a long time we've felt strongly that marketing is a big enough component within the organization that the discipline - there's enough different types of marketing that happens - that marketing really needs its own platform. The notion that having a single platform that would integrate all sales, service, and marketing was fundamentally flawed and that marketers really needed their own suite. Now that's not to say that that suite shouldn't integrate with the sales suite and with the service application.

But there are lots of things that marketers do, things like producing creative. They just don't necessarily fit neatly into the CRM paradigm.

From our perspective marketers deserve their own, dedicated suite. But then I also think, specifically for the service element - the marketer's role is starting to expand and the CMOs aren't just responsible for generating demand anymore. They're really the stewards of the brand.

The implication of that is CMOs need to own the customer experience. So it's not just how do I get hand raisers, but rather, how do I make sure that as I sell, and as I service, that the customer gets the brand experience.

For us, Tealeaf helps empower marketers to do that, because it can help them understand those user experiences during selling and during servicing.

Can you tie together why this acquisition makes sense for IBM’s Smarter Planet or Smarter Commerce [marketing]?

Within Smarter Planet there are a very small number of Smarter initiatives, one of those is Smarter Commerce. That's where the stuff I'm working on fits into Smarter Planet. When we say commerce we don't just mean retail, we mean all verticals, banking, telco, travel and leisure. How do we make commerce, not just retail, but commerce smarter?

For us, that's the marketing piece of commerce, because commerce will get smarter by integrating buy, market, sell, and service. Tealeaf is a great bridge to help us integrate the sell and the service with market. From our perspective, this Tealeaf acquisition actually is a really exciting example where we're helping marketers take a more active role in the customer experience, helping better integrate what's happening, not just within marketing now, but also the selling process and the service process.

Those overlaps and tighter integrations is where we're driving towards with the whole Smarter Commerce initiative. So, I think it goes pretty quickly from Smarter Planet, Smarter Commerce, to Tealeaf.

By John Ebbert

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