Marketing is white hot. Last month, the CMO Council declared 2013 “The Year of the Marketer.”Earlier, Gartner had predicted that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs do. Powered by customer-driven brands and data-driven insights, CMOs can now combine the art and science of marketing into better performance and greater accountability than ever before. Is it any wonder that mergers and acquisitions across the marketing space are heating up, as well?

Image courtesy of Forbes

Of course, M&A activity in marketing technology has been building for some time. Last year, Google gobbled up Wildfire. Merkle added mobile shop 5th Finger (after swallowing Social Amp). Before that, there was and Radian6, HP and Autonomy . . . And Teradata obviously saw the market opportunity two years ago when it acquired Aprimoand its Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) applications –later adding Aster and eCircle to further expand our customer-focused leadership position in marketing applications.

These moves make it clear that marketing has evolved into a strategic area of investment for companies, and that’s why it came as no surprise when late last month there was news of yet another: Oracle announced it wants to purchase Eloqua, a leading player in the niche space of B2B Marketing Automation.

Here’s my take on this latest planned acquisition:

Marketing Automation is a niche solution.Marketing Automation, a term used by some B2B demand and lead management vendors, continues to be a niche solution in the broader fabric of integrated marketing technology. This is Oracle’s second acquisition in the B2B lead management/campaign management space –coming on the heels of its Market2Lead acquisition in 2011. While this latest move certainly underscores that campaign management integrated with digital is one of the fastest-growing investment areas in CRM, more and more companies are recognizing that it is data-driven customer insights that improve revenues. In fact, our research shows that among marketers, improving marketing operations is now a top strategic goal.

The current marketing space is dynamic. As marketing technology continues to increase in importance, companies like Oracle will want to shore up product gaps. I fully expect to see even more consolidation from other players in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps Salesforce or SAP will be the next to go shopping?

Eloqua customers should brace for change. I used to carry an Oracle badge, and based on that experience, I suspect this acquisition will bring considerable change for Eloqua’s customers. Eloqua users will be absorbed into a large Oracle customer base where they may not have as significant a voice as they have previously enjoyed. (Others are voicing similar concerns.)

Teradata’s strategy remains constant. Again, we’ve been expecting consolidation within the marketing space for quite some time, and competitor moves like this one don’t impact our strategy. As a visionary leader who is shaping the broader IMM market, Teradata remains focused on helping our customers produce solid financial results. Frankly, we welcome the competition.

An integrated, collaborative approach is essential. Today, marketingis the business, and marketing alignment across disciplines and departments is now critical to business success. A comprehensive IMM approach –one that leverages all data, provides rich analytics capabilities and supports Marketing Operations Management –only stands to improve collaboration with Sales, IT, Finance, etc., . . . . and at the end of the day, that’s what enables marketers to improve efficiencies, cut costs and prove ROI.

Granted, we’re only a few weeks in, but already, I’m ready to predict that the marketing space is going to continue to make big headlines in 2013. How do you see the industry changing? Do you see more consolidation on the horizon?