It almost seems like the dust has barely settled on the sensational launch of Unica V12.1 back in July 2020, and if you read our blog post on the subject, you’d know what a welcome return to form it was. Since that time, our friends in HCL Unica Product Development have been extremely busy plotting an even more feature packed release, in the form of V12.1.03, informally known as the ‘fall release’. Broadly speaking, this updated Unica version provides improved insight, an even deeper level of personalisation capability, while broadening the digital messaging offering with goal-based marketing across social, SMS, localised email and real-time marketing, all designed to empower marketing at great scale; which, speaking as someone who has seen many Unica versions come out over the years is a lot to package up into the second release of the year. So how does it measure up?
Cloud Native Methodology
An area that has seen major enhancements is the area of Cloud Native. Firstly, Unica has been added to HCL SoFy. If you haven’t heard of SoFy before, you can think of it as an HCL-powered ‘App Store’. SoFy is a catalogue of Kubernetes-enabled products that are able to be simply deployed to any cloud-native environment. SoFy uses Docker images and Helm technology to deploy HCL Workload Automation product components to a Kubernetes cluster of your choice (public or private). Secondly, HCL have added support for Unica to be deployed using Red Hat OpenShift, which is an open source container application platform (based again on Kubernetes). These two ground-breaking new features greatly expand the capability for Unica to be utilised in modern cutting edge software application environments, while still remaining both premise and cloud agnostic. To complement this capability, the entire Unica suite now supports HCL OneDB, a powerful cloud-native database technology.
Enhancements to Collaborate
The fall release has also seen some welcome care and attention in the world of Localised Marketing, in the form of the Collaborate module, which existed in a previous form during the IBM years as Distributed Marketing. This capability empowers an organisation to centrally manage their local, or regional marketing efforts. The central hub controls the business rules, enforcing corporate standards and practices, while allowing the regional staff to plan and execute their marketing activity, all while retaining a single centralised source of the truth for which end-customer received what communication at what time. In the IBM years this was an unsung hero of the suite, as many organisations struggled to monetise their marketing spend when a limited number of qualified users could execute campaigns.
Enhancements to Deliver
Hot off the heels of the launch of Deliver with V12.1 for digital email comms delivery, the fall release adds the capability for WhatsApp and SMS message delivery, with a wide variety of SMS vendors to choose from, so you can choose the one most appropriate for your geographical region, all with the ease and comfort of a single User Interface. At the same time, Deliver now supports integration with FaceBook and LinkedIn, allowing you to syndicate audience segments (from Campaign flowcharts) seamlessly into these social networks for campaign targeting. The message composition UI has also been updated with improved deliverability capabilities, allowing users to quickly assemble digital messages, and preview how that message will look across multiple devices and multiple email service providers, and identify any pain points that could cause blockages or spam flagging. The process of A/B testing has also undergone enhancements to auto-promote the best outcome of the A/B test across any available channels.
This latest release has seen significant improvements across all modules that is designed to help marketers with decisions based around their weekly or monthly sales goals, by using conversion milestones. This is a very interesting area for HCL Unica to be exploring, as more and more marketers come around to the idea of GBM and really monitoring the effectiveness and benefits of their marketing for the business, and proactive monitoring allows a user to make changes to impact their bottom line while it can still be improved. I’m sure many of you will recognise that sinking feeling of pulling together your Management Information metrics or dashboard ahead of a stakeholder meeting and knowing this will be a difficult meeting. Multiple goal milestones can be analysed in parallel, to monitor different desired outcomes at the same time, all visually laid out in a highly intuitive and accessible way.
Enhancements to Discover
From September onwards, HCL have made available Unica Discover, the suites behavioural insight analytics tool, with an incredibly powerful digital session capture and playback feature. This module rightly deserves its own blog post (and will do very soon), but from the fall release Discover is integrated to Journey, allowing you to define and detect digital struggle events, e.g. cart abandonment, and allow users to initiate in real time a personalised retention or conversion cross-channel journey, which is going to be a game changer.
Enhancements to Plan
The latest release of Plan introduces the Marketers Checklist. The checklist is designed to act as a workflow-lite to manage a simple sequence of activity like a series of signoffs (e.g. creative, legal) ahead of a digital comms broadcast. The workflow capabilities of Plan have always been very clever and sophisticated, but that sophistication has put off users looking to achieve fast tactical outcomes with a light touch for governance. For them the checklist is going to really help out.
Centralised Offer Management (COM)
Back in July HCL launched the Centralised Offer Management (COM) module, which was noteworthy because it finally permitted integration with third-party content management providers, this has undergone an expansion to broaden it’s capabilities with a wider variety of attribute types and versions.
If you would like more detail on the above enhancements or you are considering upgrading to V12.1 please do get in touch.