SDL's marketing software division re-emerges as Alterian

New standalone business will focus on cross-channel campaign and real-time interaction management offering

SDL’s cross-channel campaign and real-time interaction management business has re-emerged as an independent martech player under former branding, Alterian, five years after SDL acquired it.

The relaunch of Alterian as a standalone entity followed a management buy-out of the campaigns business unit from SDL earlier this year. The new company is privately held and headquartered in Denver in the US, with European operations in the Bristol, the UK, and Sydney, Australia.

Its core focus will be on cross-channel campaign and real-time interaction management. More than 200 customers globally use these tools, including Thomas Cook and Scottish Power, Mitsubishi Motors North America, and Specsavers and Speciality Fashion Group in Australia.

SDL announced its intention of spinning off its social intelligence, campaign management and ecommerce optimisation platforms (Fredhopper) in March. The decision was made so the group could refocus to its core language translation services and technology products, which fall under the Web content management and documentation banner.

“We worked hard to more clearly understand our clients’ needs and how to better align our product and services offering to them,” said SDL’s CEO, Adolfo Hernandez, in a statement. “This led to our decision to divest those parts of our business which were not central to this focus, namely campaigns, social intelligence and Fredhopper.”

At the time, SDL’s executive chairman, David Clayton, told CMSWire that the company put the wrong salesman on the wrong opportunities, leading to poor win rates and a never-ending game of catchup behind rivals such as Sitecore and Adobe. Its wide array of software solutions also made for difficult positioning in the market.

Like many vendors that have swiftly built up a suite of martech solutions in recent years, SDL originally acquired its social media monitoring, marketing analytics and campaign management tools from struggling London-based CRM firm, Alterian, in December 2011. The all-cash deal was valued at 69.7 million pounds and closed in 2012.

Alterian CEO, Robert Hale, said the mission now was to re-establish and reinvest in the Alterian brand in order to help marketers bridge the gap between direct and digital marketing needs.

“We deliver on this promise by providing our clients with the ability to bring the rich history of consumer transactional data together with the real-time context of how the consumer is interacting with the brand to provide a unique and consistent customer experience across channels,” he said.

“Data along is not enough – it’s about how you can employ that data to deliver an exceptional and contextually relevant experience to your customers consistently across channels, through consolidated decision making.”

Hale also noted Alterian maintains several long-term partners including Indicia, a customer engagement agency within the Konica Minolta business. Alterian and SDL will also remained closely aligned as business partners in order to ensure support for mutual clients.

Alterian isn’t the first martech business to be acquired by a larger enterprise software entity, only to re-emerge as its own organisation.

In July, the new private equity owner of Teradata’s former marketing applications business announced it would split the group in two and bring back the original Aprimo marketing resource management platform brand as the moniker for its marketing operations business.

The big question is how Alterian will fare five years on, in a competitor vendor landscape where battle lines are swiftly being drawn and the big four vendors - Adobe, Salesforce, IBM and Oracle - are emerging as the platform players leading the martech pack.

Commenting on the news, Raab & Associates founder and principal, David Raab, expected it will be difficult for Alterian to regain a significant marketing position in the rapidly changing martech landscape, and noted its core customer base in the past had been with marketing agencies, rather than corporates.

"Corporate marketing organisations have many choices, many of which have more modern technology than Alterian," he said.


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