It has been an exciting time at HCL now that the acquisition has closed and as we take the next steps with Unica and the other acquired brands including Appscan, BigFix, Commerce, Portal, Notes & Domino, and Connections. Although we have not been able to talk about an expanded road map for Unica until the acquisition closed, we certainly have been developing it and planned enhancements for a while. So, what’s next for the Unica brand?
The Unica Brand is Back – Yes, the Unica brand is back! I will confess that I had some apprehension that the Unica brand had changed many hands,but all that vanished after I joined HCL and received over a hundred messages like “Awesome Unica is back” from so many industry connections. At the HCL TechConnects, customers were cheering and clapping that that the friendly blue U was back, With that kind of positive energy and love, the Unica brand is definitely resurged as the forward looking brand of the HCL Software Marketing Solutions.
Listening to User Feedback – In June 2019, we hosted full-day Unica HCL TechConnect events in Atlanta, Redwood City, Chicago, and Ontario Canada to talk face-to-face with customers and partners. We all ate very well, had some great informal and formal discussions where we talked through current state of the acquisition and V11.1. The HCL team was excited to see that we exceeded our attendance goals by over 25% – indeed customers and users are still very passionate about the Unica solution. We shared the features of 11.1 and captured great ideas on where to improve the suite. This feedback will be the foundation of many new enhancements in upcoming short and long-term product updates. We are coming up with an exciting webinar where I and my colleague Claire Timlin will share a lot more about Unica Future road-maps.
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Unica is not new to HCL – One of the wrong perceptions some people, (although very few) had was that Unica is new to HCL. Whereas, the reality is HCL has been an IBM and Unica solution integration partner for years. Most importantly, HCL has been actively supporting the entire engineering, development, support, and product management of the Unica Suite since 2017 through the IBM/HCL IPP (Intellectual Property Partnership) agreement. So, all Unica support you were getting since 2017 was through HCL. IBM was managing sales, customer communication, and billing. Now this responsibility has also moved to HCL Software. The Unica Version 11.1, close/completion of over 1500 ESA (Enhancement service requests) and upcoming V11.x and V12 releases are all the result of HCL’s hard work since taking over full support of the Unica suite in 2017.
The Acquisition was the Best Thing for Unica – About ten years ago, many marketing and commerce brands were acquired by large companies just as Unica was by IBM in 2010. Today we see almost all of these acquired legacy commerce and marketing suites have lacked investment to keep them on the expected maturity curve they once were acquired. Unica’s move back to the HCL entrepreneurial culture of innovation is backed by a solid $8.5B company with 150K employees globally across 45 countries, which will give Unica an infusion of new ideas, resources and talent. HCL is not just talking about making big development jumps. HCL has exponentially increased the development team size by nearly 4 times and significantly expanded the product management teams’ size.. All these changes have allowed Unica to get back to its roots of marketing innovation and deliver significant feature and functionality jumps in V11.0 and V11.1 in a short period of time.
One of the big additions was the Director control panel for IT level database and server performance insight at users’ fingertips. We also completely rewrote code to deliver Dockerized containerization of Unica Campaign to provide customers a choice and flexibility of where their marketing solution is hosted along with many expanded integration points. A customer commented at a TechConnect “I feel like someone hit the Nitrous button on Unica”. This is exactly the energy and customer sentiment our Unica team is striving to deliver to you the Unica user with each and every release.
We are Listening, Tell Us What Features You Want – Tech Connect participants were shocked to see the leaders of our global engineering teams at the events answering direct customer questions. We had customers asking for integration to the latest cloud databases & reporting systems, quick counts, even a background color wheel to reduce eyestrain… 100s of features were asked for and discussed. Some of these will be very quickly available in the next 11.2 release. While other more complex requests will be addressed in future 2020 releases. Unica 11.1 now has a lot of previously hidden features, integration, and compatibility that customers were happy to learn about including FAST upgrades which reduces the version upgrade cycle from weeks to just a few hours in most cases – yes, you can now jump from an early version of Unica right to 11.1 using FAST. We would love to hear your ideas on how to make Unica even better. We are listening and have an army of developers ready to work on customer requested features. We will be using Aha! as a support tool to formally capture and analyze customer ESAs (Enhancement Service Requests). Look for that in the Community once you have your credentials.
Some of the hot topics under discussion were –
- Ability to be able to quickly design a campaign with clear insights and recommendations prior to creating flow charts
- Some other customer wanted the ability for patching their environments without having to shut down Unica services every time they do patching of their server machines.
- Audit reports of the MO templates and performance improvements
- Single Flowchart to support multiple projects
- About our new and upcoming products like ‘Customer Journey’ and ‘Centralised Offer Management’
- For Director, about Threshold alerts being sent through email/message notifications etc.
- Automate import of Forms into different environments?
- Waterfall like report needed for Interact as well (Simulator)
- Updating a table Catalog through APIs? (Discover)
- How can we consider ML for search in Marketing Ops- Plan to use Elastic Search?
Partners will be a Huge part of the Unica solution – A long time ago, Unica partners were the backbone of the brand implementation and support. We had fantastic partner attendance at the Tech Connect events. HCL’s plan is to expand and re-establish our partner support ecosystem. If you are working through a Unica partner, they will undoubtedly be reaching out to you with new features, updates, and integration ideas. Of course, new and previous Unica partners are welcome to jump back on board the Unica brand.
Thank you – Thank you again for the support and passion for the Unica solution. Our team is all very excited at the opportunity to hear your feedback and allow Unica to organically grow and mature into a marketing suite uniquely tailored to support the user and business needs of the marketing practitioner and organizations strategic marketing goals.
Tony Arnold is careered data and analytics focused CMO holding several CMO positions throughout his career and notably was featured in Inc. Magazine as a Web Strategy Award Winner. He has a unique marketing, customer data, and technology background which includes working in various senior level marketing positions as client, vendor, and consultant, across B2C, B2B, software, consulting, data IDR, retail, financial, manufacturing, and advertising businesses. Tony led the Sears Holding implementation of Unica which processed 25B customer contacts yearly and delivered $2.1B incremental revenue annually. He co-presented numerous times with Unica founder Yuchun Lee. Tony also has ownership and implementation experience with Unica and nearly every competing marketing solution on the market. Tony spends his free time making things, welding, fabricating, and working on refurbishing old motorcycles.