I expect you've all heard the story by now: SDL has acquired Alterian.

So What's the Deal?

There's no official announcement from either company that I can find yet, but that doesn't negate the truth: that Alterian had a change of heart. What Alterian received was £68.4 million. SDL upped their offer from 80pence per share to 110p in early November, which is probably what made Alterian reconsider and head to the negotiating table.

There are a number of views floating around about this, and most aresaying the same thing: SDL bought Alterian for its monitoring, analyticsand campaign management solutions.

SDL seems to be unofficially pointing to the same reason according to a quote in the Financial Times:

We think that there are synergies with the marketing analytics and content delivery,” Mark Lancaster, SDL executive chairman, told the Financial Times.

The marketing analytics, campaign management and social media were the big attractions – Alterian is one of the leading providers in that space.”

SDL's View of the World of Web CMS

SDL's decision to go after Alterian falls inline with its view of the future of web content management. In a recent interview with Robert Carroll, CMO of Web Content Management Solutions, he pointed to the conversion of marketing automation, web content management,multi-channel delivery and backend enterprise content management comingtogether to solve business challenges. (you can watch that full interview below).

And as Irina Guseva points out, SDL now has many of the pieces necessary to meet that future head-on. Of course she also rightly notes that it's a mix of interfaces that marketers will need to master.

Learning Opportunities

SDL has made it to the top of both Forrester's and Gartner's lists for Customer Experience and Web Content Management, Alterian only made it as a niche player in Gartner's WCM Magic Quadrant. So while it may be wrong (for customers) for SDL to drop the WCM components of Alterian, it probably makes the most sense.

It will certainly be enough for SDL to integrate Alterian's SM2, Alchemy and Marketing Suite solutions with SDL Tridion and Smart Target. Maybe we'll even see the beginnings of a seamless interface sometime next year with all these products. And keep in mind that Alterian hasn't updated its Web Content Management solution for a while, with the exception of some mobile capabilities, so it's likely the WCM solution is a pretty standard offering and customers may be looking for more.

It doesn't matter how you choose to look at this acquisition, it simply shows that smaller vendors are almost always at risk of being snapped up by bigger ones for key capabilities, while others, like Ektron and Sitecore, at working hard (and succeeding) at taking a place at the big boys table.

I expect SDL and Alterian will tell us more soon, or at least be official about the whole thing. The details...well those are probably still in the making.