The ink is barely dry on the headlines, and already the opinions are streaming in.’s acquisition of ExactTarget could be problematic. Salesforce’s acquisition of ExactTarget could be good. The price was too high. Maybe it was worth it. And so on. Instead of focusing on what happened on Tuesday or speculating about what might happen down the road, I’d like to take a step away from the feeding frenzy and ask a different question: Why?

When a similar deal captured the industry’s attention in December, analysts forecasted more acquisitions to come. So why is consolidation around marketing automation suddenly so popular? Here are my top three reasons:

Age-old walls are coming down. Remember when Sales worked in one part of the building, and Marketing worked in another? “They” were over there. “We” were over here. And we rarely interacted. Well, those days are gone. New solutions for data management and big data analytics are breaking down the barriers (physical or otherwise) that have traditionally separated Sales and Marketing.

And that’s a very good thing because . . .

Today, collaboration is key. As marketers, we need to take the lead and help empower others throughout the enterprise to become active participants in setting performance goals and contributing to go-to-market processes. We need to create communication channels for rich, two-way exchanges of information and ideas, so Sales — and all customer-facing functions, for that matter – can deliver Marketing’s message to both customers and prospects, and then return data to us for further nurturing.

The C-suite craves better visibility. Marketers are under tremendous pressure to be accountable, and fortunately, more and more marketing organizations are rising to the challenge. These marketers know that in order to understand the value of any campaign, they must identify, track, evaluate and then refine the metrics that provide the most insight.

Any friction between “headquarters and field” impedes that progress. As it breaks down silos, marketing automation improves visibility into key business functions, as well.

A customer-centric focus trumps all. We all know that the customer experience relates directly to revenue growth. However, in the age of the empowered consumer where marketing channels are continuing to multiply, the customer experience is rapidly becoming more and more complex.

Historically, business intelligence software, enterprise software, CRM software and even marketing software have perpetuated complexity by mapping to existing corporate structures. Now, though, marketing automation lets marketers focus on data specifically from/about/for the customer, and use data-driven marketing strategies to make the customer relationship stronger.

To me, this acquisition is yet another in a long string of long-term plays that these companies see as giving the market what it wants: the ability to better control, make sense of and drive revenue using big data insights.

But, how do you see it? Why do you think there has been so much activity around marketing automation these days?

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