Enterprise Apps

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Aprimo Marketing Chief Michael Emerson: Riding the Momentum

Earlier this month,Aprimo released Marketing 7.5, a milestone for the company in many respects. It is the first release that incorporates Ensemble, a product acquired from DoubleClick, and it provides business-to-consumer (B2C) campaign management capability for the first time.

Marketing 7.5 is also the first major release overseen by Chief Marketing Officer Michael Emerson, who joined Aprimo in February. Emerson is a Siebel alumnus who stayed with the CRM market maker “to the very end,” as he put it.

Forward Momentum

“It’s great to be at a company that has a lot of momentum,” Emerson told CRM Buyer, “thinking about the best way to position our sales and marketing, and what directions we are taking product development — you know, healthy things to be focused on.”

CRM Buyer spoke with the marketing chief after the release of Aprimo 7.5 to find out what areas the company will be focusing on as it moves forward.

CRM Buyer: Tell me more about 7.5. How is it significantly different from your previous releases?

Michael Emerson: We’ve spent the last year rebuilding it, extracting the functionality [from Ensemble] and putting it in the Aprimo suite. Our objective has been to have one common suite — not a series of interconnected pieces of marketing functionality.

It is a campaign management B2C product that has been in the market since the late 1990s. It has about 40 major users including several direct marketing corporations. One area in which we made a significant investment was the construction of a marketing production workflow product targeted at large-scale implementations.

This allows customers to manage a production line that creates marketing programs. It is primarily aimed at the Global 200 — retailers, telecom providers, for instance — that have large production marketing activities.

CRM Buyer: 7.5 is a point release, but it sounds like this is a major product for Aprimo.

Emerson: Yes. Our plan is to look at adding or making major upgrades to one or two application areas this year. Our focus for 2006 is campaign management and production management. Now we are assessing which of the boxes we will focus on for the rest of the year.

CRM Buyer: You recently introduced a multi-tenant hosted version of Aprimo. How is that going?

Emerson: That is going very well. That is aimed at the entry-level market. Aprimo doesn’t typically focus on the low end of the market, but this product is for large companies that have an isolated business unit that might need this functionality. Anyway, sales have been going quite well for that product. It will be a significant part of our corporate strategy going forward.

CRM Buyer: One development that analysts always warn about when an enterprise software vendor releases a hosted version is that it will cannibalize the enterprise sales. Are your hosted customers Aprimo’s enterprise customers that have decamped from the on-premise model?

Emerson: All of our professional Edition customers are brand new, in fact.

CRM Buyer: What other areas will you be looking at?

Emerson: Opportunities in analytics. We also will be releasing a version of Aprimo marketing for marketing agencies this year.

CRM Buyer: That will be your first industry vertical?

Emerson: Yes, but please don’t take that to mean we will be releasing many more verticals. Our general strategy is to focus on a product that can be configured for specific industries. In the case of agencies, though, they have enough specific requirements that we felt we should offer tailored functionality.

CRM Buyer: It doesn’t sound like you are a big fan of vertical applications.

Emerson: When I was at Siebel, I saw firsthand the rise and fall of verticals. They had to invest so much in so many different products for the various verticals that it became difficult to maintain competitiveness. Or, put another way, all of their verticals created [a great deal of] competitive bandwidth that they had to then maintain in terms of product marketing and sales.

That can be a very expensive proposition even for a (US)$2 billion company. It is a difficult model for most companies, in fact, except maybe an SAP.

CRM Buyer: What other areas will you be focusing on?

Emerson: We are planning to expand our international presence. We are also looking at deepening our analytical and BI functionality. We also are working with consulting and integration partners to better collaborate on our products.

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