When digital advertising agency MMI Agency opened its doors nearly 30 years ago, the advertising landscape was far less complex, the current CEO of the Houston company said.

“It was really in the good, old days of advertising where the problems were much smaller and the landscape was much easier to manage,” Benjamin Spiegel, CEO of the agency, told CMSWire in an interview this morning. “We’ve evolved with the customer through  the original TV days, to print, to the first websites. We’ve got a very traditional PR, print and TV background.”

But it’s not 1986. 

Big data is now reality. The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasted last fall that the big data technology and services market will grow at a 26.4 percent compound annual growth rate to $41.5 billion through 2018. That's about six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market.

To keep up with the digital world, MMI Agency partnered with KNIME, an open source data analytics, reporting and integration platform. 

Spiegel said partnering with KNIME Analytics will help marketers and digital agencies analyze data sets and uncover actionable insights. The partnership will also allow brands to deploy a toolset on top of their existing marketing data stack.

KNIME’s Known

Forrester Research named Zurich, Switzerland-based KNIME a “strong contender” in its April 2015 Wave for Big Data Predictive Analytics Solutions. Forrester analyzed 13 vendors. Researchers cited KNIME for its flexibility.

It is “supported by a community of thousands of developers who drive the continued evolution of the platform by contributing extensions essential to the marketplace: such as prebuilt industry APIs, geospatial mapping, and decision tree ensembles,” wrote the researchers.

“KNIME competes with only Microsoft,” researchers added, “for a low score on business applications and is in last place, by itself, when it comes to architecture. It has a perfect score when it comes to data.”

MMI’s Gain

The opportunity for 85-employee MMI Agency was, simply, better data analysis. Before this, MMI Agency would connect to clients' data analysis platforms or build custom ones internally with third-party technology.

KNIME gives MMI a “formal technology partner” that helps streamline the data collection and analysis process for its clients.

“MMI’s in-house capabilities and enthusiastic adoption of modern technology makes it a great partner for our customers,” Michael Berthold, CEO of KNIME, said in a statement. … We are proud to add MMI to our extensive network of advanced analytics partners in this increasingly important domain.”

Spiegel told CMSWire his agency wanted to get away from “building its own technology stack.”

“It’s bad for brands,” he said. “We’re not a technology company.”

Spiegel likes the fact his team members don’t have to be data scientists to use the KNIME platform.

“We can focus on what we do best,” he said. “And that’s brand building.”

Brand Activators

MMI focuses on “brand activation,” as Spiegel put it, or the “moment when a brand is launching new product” and needs PR, social media and in-store activations. They also work with clients on launch events.

“It’s the integration between the physical and virtual worlds,” Spiegel said.

MMI Agency also partners with the Sandpit, a London-based global business-building firm and technology innovation lab, to help clients with communications and digital marketing campaigns.