IBM's Watson Marketing breaks off into separate company

On its first day as a standalone business, the new company says it's mature yet agile enough to take on major competitors like Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

IBM's Watson Marketing platform officially launched as a standalone company on Monday, about three months after IBM announced it would sell off its commerce and marketing cloud business to the investment management firm Centerbridge Partners. The new company, which will announce its new name and brand later this month, offers marketing automation tools, marketing analytics, advertising and content management tools. 

In a blog post, CEO Mark Simpson argued the new company will be mature enough yet agile enough to take on major cloud marketing competitors like Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce. 

"With over 1,000 people on day one, we're far from a small company," he wrote. "And yet, we're also able to be one of the nimblest and most responsive to industry changes of any other marketing cloud. We aren't weighed down by unrelated businesses and large company structures like our competitors, but we have the experience and capabilities to match them and are able to focus 100% on the marketer."

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At the same time, the industry has moved towards platforms that focus on the full customer experience, rather than just marketing. For instance, Adobe last month unveiled a new service called ABM Essentials, designed to facilitate collaboration between B2B marketers and sales teams.

In his blog post, Simpson laid out several priorities for the new company -- including expansion beyond marketing technology, promising to soon announce new partnerships to bring together marketing and advertising. He also promised to make it easier for other companies to work with the new spinoff, by expanding its "open marketing ecosystem."

The new company will also "double down on AI by investing in a robust data science team... and more product designers," Simpson said.

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    Another early priority will be to unify the company's underlying data structure to improve the way its products connect. 

  • As for IBM, now that the transaction with Centerbridge Partners has closed, it can keep its focus on its new priorities. That includes a major push into multi-cloud and hybrid cloud management, as demonstrated by its acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion.

    "Today the company is squarely focused on the emerging, high-value segments of the IT industry and accelerating our leadership in artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid cloud, SaaS, blockchain, and supply chain, among other strategic technologies," IBM General Manager Inhi C. Suh wrote in a blog post following the announcement of the deal with Centerbridge Partners.

    The deal with Centerbridge followed a similar agreement announced last December when IBM said it would sell a number of its marketing and commerce offerings to HCL

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