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Posted by Tom Grant on September 15, 2009
While other Forrester analysts will pronounce judgment on Adobe's acquisition of Omniture, I'll give a quick bit of perspective from the Technology Industry (TI) Client Group's side of Forrester. From this angle, the acquisition is a very interesting case study in how a company that has mastered working with a very technical audience feels the need to address the needs of business users, too, in their product portfolio.
Adobe has done a great job of addressing the needs of their two core audiences, graphic designers and web developers/web designers. These two groups are technical in different ways. Photoshop and Illustrator are highly specialized tools for people with highly specialized tools. "The suits" might approve their work, but they're not deeply involved in it.
Web developers—the target audience for Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Flex, and the like—are technical professionals of a different sort. However, their work isn't nearly as divorced from business users as the graphic arts people. The web site is where marketers launch campaigns, track visitors, and repurpose the same content for different contexts (languages, regions, media, etc.). This crowd might not even be able to spell PHP, but they're keenly interested in what happens within the edifice that the web developers build.
That's why it seems, at first glance, that Adobe's acquisition of Omniture makes sense. Their existing tools addressed only part of the business processes that centered on the web site, and only some of the people whose job depends on the success of the site. To the degree that, at a business level, a combined Adobe/Omniture offering addresses both groups is a good thing, even if the products aren't integrated any time soon (or ever).
The real challenge for Adobe may not be the product strategy. Instead, Adobe's marketing and sales will need to begin working more closely with a different audience than the people you find on the Slashdot forums. Arguably, the business types were already in the background. Even the most propeller-headed Flash developers didn't live in a vacuum, completely isolated from the business concerns that defined their projects, and decided how the company should invest in the web developer team.
At this moment, some companies realize the extremely high value of the domain expertise that comes with the acquisition. Other companies watch helplessly, or indifferently, as the people who really understand their customers and partners wander off to find jobs elsewhere.
Omniture's business depended on both the technical types who knew how to implement tools like web analytics, and the business people who consumed them. The biggest rewards from this acquisition depend on plugging into the bigger community of people who work on the web site than just the technical professionals.
[Cross-posted at The Heretech.]
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