German enterprise software giant SAP’s intention to acquire Boston-based behavioral marketing startup SeeWhy sheds light on the former’s future in the marketing tech landscape. As per SAP’s plans, SeeWhy will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of SAP; the initial integration point will be SAP’s commerce platform hybris.
“SeeWhy and other investments we’re making are a way for us to really support omnichannel, cross-touch point engagements,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer for hybris. “That is really what is at the core of what SeeWhy offers – the ability to process a lot of different information, synthesize it, understand it, normalize it and turn it into an action, like right promotion, product, etc.”
SeeWhy is built on in-memory technology, a more fluid way of tapping data, said Charles Nicholls, founder and chief strategy officer for SeeWhy. Siddarth Taparia, senior director at SAP, told AdExchanger in-memory stores entire databases in the RAM, enabling quicker access than if it were stored in a hard disk.
SeeWhy pipes intent data from an array of online sources, data providers and Web analytics companies to trigger targeted campaigns through the SeeWhy CORE platform.
“The net impact of that is it’s designed to listen to individual customer signals and then drive an appropriate response in an automated fashion,” Nicholls said. “It’s very different than the way you’d traditionally have content being recommended or generated – relying on historical data. It’s much more dynamic and responsive to spikes in social media or things trending now.”
“SeeWhy began in the email remarketing space and email is making a comeback, particularly with mobile devices,” said Jennifer Polk, research director at Gartner. “But it will be interesting to see if an infusion of capital from SAP allows them to innovate across new channels and sources of data, [such as] mobile, social advertising and in-store.”
SAP’s acquisition of SeeWhy is indicative of the future of its marketing solutions roadmap. While competitors Oracle, IBM, Adobe and Salesforce.com are building marketing cloud stacks, SAP is seemingly building an open ecosystem.
SeeWhy’s 30-partner ecosystem includes such data partners as Experian and Epsilon, reporting tie-ins to Google Analytics and Webtrends and commerce hooks to hybris competitors like GSI Commerce and Magento.
At this juncture, Nicholls does not foresee SAP-competitive partner relationships ending as a result of the acquisition.
“If you look at the way brands work, they need to be able to tie functions together,” he said. “Our ability to do that cross-channel, and to blend email and advertising together, is very high value. I think in reality we’re a good partner for all of those other technologies by importing real-time triggers and feeds for more relevant promotions.”
Hybris’ Walker agreed, saying he doesn’t foresee companies gravitating toward one marketing cloud and one marketing cloud only. The greatest challenge is bringing data and information together to compile rich customer profiles that unify in-store, online and mobile data.
“Today these various marketing clouds are very much just an overcast sky,” he said. “Everything is blending together and no one is solving the big problem behind that and I think that’s where we are moving. We want to solve the big problem [of unified customer profiles across point solutions] but also have an open ecosystem with partners such as Adobe and others, even what might be on paper competitive solutions, for customers to use.”