Vancouver-based customer and market intelligence firm Vision Critical’s North American Research and Consulting division is being acquired by MARU Group, and will continue to function under the leadership of the current Vision Critical research consulting executive team.
The new stand-alone entity will be called MARU/VCR&C, and will operate as part of MARU Group, becoming a strategic partner for Vision Critical.
“We are embarking on the logical next step in Vision Critical’s evolution, from our pioneering creation of Insight Communities to defining the future of customer intelligence inside the enterprise,” said Vision Critical CEO Scott Miller. “This transaction enables Vision Critical to deliver a more comprehensive, integrated customer intelligence platform for our customers and upon which strategic partners like MARU/VCR&C will deliver a complete, world-class research consulting experience.”
Vision Critical will continue to work in close collaboration with MARU/VCR&C through a value-added reseller and strategic partner agreement.
All current employees in the Research and Consulting division, approximately 160 people, will retain their roles in the newly created independent company and continue to serve the same clients.
This long-rumored move for Vision Critical to sell off its consulting arm will generate proceeds for the company up to focus more exclusively on the SaaS customer intelligence aspect of its operations, for which there is increasing demand.
“More and more, our customers are pushing to expand the scale of their communities from tens of thousands of people to much larger groups of their customers,” said Miller. “Because of this rapid growth in demand, focusing our efforts across three dimensions is imperative: continuing innovation in our software platform; helping our customers drive engagement and insight through best-in-class community intelligence services; and expanding our partner ecosystem around the world.”
American advisory firm IDC estimates that by 2018, marketing technology spend will reach $32.3 billion.
Vision Critical’s proprietary customer intelligence platform, Sparq, is used by more than 700 global companies, including Adobe, DEWALT and Univision Communications Inc. to guide them in building better marketing campaigns and generally helping companies understand the mind of the consumer.
In an interview last year with Cantech Letter, Vision Critical CEO Scott Miller said, “It’ll be the companies that figure out how to leverage and collaborate with the empowered customer that are going to have the greatest opportunity for success. Even in the most mundane B2B spaces, you can’t hold it back. The customer is empowered, and this open sharing of information and engagement with brands is going to continue to fuel industry.”
In October 2015, Vision Critical updated its Sparq platform, improving its user interface and adding a variety of new features, while also launching its first mobile app, called Engage.
More than 700 leading global companies including Adobe, DEWALT, and Univision Communications Inc. use Vision Critical’s customer intelligence software solutions to help them build better products, launch more effective marketing campaigns, improve customer experience and enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
As two independent companies Vision Critical and MARU/VCR&C will operate with complementary mandates, each reinforcing the other’s capacity to improve customer intelligence outcomes for their existing client bases.
Founded in 2000 by Andrew Reid, Vision Critical has practically created a category which is getting increasingly crowded today, but of which it is nonetheless a pioneer.
The transaction will be finalized in Q1 2016, subject to conditions.