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IBM, Unica and solution-oriented Decision Management


IBM recently announced it was buying Unica. As I work with both IBM and Unica I thought I should post some comments.

To me, this is an interesting example of the ongoing evolution of decision management as a market. Today most customers aren’t looking explicitly for decision management solutions. Rather they are seeking business solutions that can only be delivered using decision management. I expect this to change, as it has largely done in retail banking (where there are enough decisioning/decision management solutions for customers to recognize this as a category) but, for now, this is where we find ourselves.

Unica is a great example of this – a product that delivers business value using a largely under-the-covers decisioning engine. For instance, Unica can be be used to deliver consistent and analytically-driven offers across channels (the business need). It does this using a centralized decision engine that combines business rules, analytics, optimization etc. Unica has had this capability for a while and has gradually been emphasizing it more and more – they talk about an Awareness – Decisioning – Execution sequence for instance. But mostly they talk about things like integrating channels, driving marketing offers analytically and so on. Decisioning enabling a set of business values.

IBM already has some great platform technologies for decisioning and decision management (the ILOG business rules platform and the SPSS analytic platform among others). Unica’s decision engine has some interesting features I would hope to see in these platform products and allowing models/rules to be shared between Unica and other applications (through integration with these products) would also be very useful in helping companies go from only managing marketing decisions to starting to manage all customer decisions. From next best offer to next best action.

If you want my perspective on Unica, check out this paper I wrote for them on the Case for Centralized Decisioning.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michel Adar August 24, 2010, 9:50 am

    Why do you think IBM paid so much over the stock price for Unica? What are they after?

    BTW, the link to “Case for Centralized Decisioning” is broken.

  • James Taylor August 24, 2010, 9:54 am

    I fixed the link – sorry about that.
    I am not sure what IBM’s strategy is – it seems out of character for them to buy a clear application when they have been focused on platforms and templates. We will have to wait and see.

  • Sofia August 15, 2013, 7:34 am

    The link to “Case for Centralized Decisioning” is broken; could you send me the pdf file or fix it? I am very interested in reading it. Thanks!