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By Mark Gorenberg

Exactly 20 years ago last week, the commercial Internet as we know it opened its doors to the masses.  And over the next few years, marketing departments started experimenting with the data created by this network of networks to improve how they advertise and brand their businesses.

The basic market demographics available through the early Internet that we now take for granted was considered revolutionary at the time. But by the next decade, web analytics became the norm and the new era of data-driven marketing had begun.

I was fortunate enough to be there to see it all unfold as a venture investor and board member of some of these new-breed marketing technology companies.

These organizations have evolved to become core components of marketing departments today, creating tons of insightful data that ultimately help brands personalize how they engage with customers at new levels, increase their revenue and improve their bottom lines.

Of course, while we thought our progress in the 1990s and 2000s in web-based marketing was prolific, the marketing automation stack was just getting started.  Today more products and services are available to marketing departments than ever before to better measure, engage, optimize and improve sales and brands.

The pressure increases on marketers and CMOs with each advancement to keep up with both their competitors’ and customers’ rising expectations of brands communication. Today, marketing technology is a $123 billion market opportunity, and it’s grown another 12 percent just this past year alone.  Gartner expects the CMO to spend more than the CIO on technology by 2016. The demand is sky high, and the opportunity is immense.

We are seeing this evolution unfold firsthand as a venture capital fund investing in startups. Zetta Venture Partners, named for the start of the Zettabyte (1 trillion gigabytes of data) era, was started to focus on early stage, enterprise analytics companies. We believe the addition of data to software will dramatically change the utility of the workflow for software every company uses today and in every line of business – and not just in marketing. Healthcare, energy, education, agriculture and insurance will all significantly change to be data driven.

CEOs are getting their key performance indicators in real-time from Domo; sales reps are automatically getting their real-time leads from machine learning based from InsideSales; facility managers and HR leaders are getting real-time feedback on how to optimize their workplace from Eventboard; and CMOs are increasing their mobile engagement and their ability to experiment with new content and change their spending mix by tying offline and online marketing together through a myriad of new young companies. Data and software combine with machine learning to make predictive analytics core to these new products. The software of the future now allows you to see into that future more clearly.

The center of this marketing technology evolution is rooted in ever-better analytics.

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Mark Gorenberg, Managing Director, Zetta Venture Partners

Today’s announcement between IBM and Facebook is yet another important milestone. IBM has the depth and experience necessary to analyze massive amounts of data in uncovering hidden insights. This collaboration gives IBM unique access to the 1.3 million pieces of content created by Facebook users every minute so that marketers can uncover insights and create the most personalized and relevant engagements for their customers.

Perhaps even more exciting is the accompanying news that Facebook will become the inaugural member of the new IBM Commerce THINKLab research environment. This gives companies the unique opportunity to work side by side with IBM researchers and Facebook experts to accelerate the development of new technologies that will further drive personalized customer engagements.

Customers’ expectations from brands continue to rise with each new innovation like IBM and Facebook. This is all good news for the innovation community, for young startups pioneering new frontiers, and for companies like IBM creating a smarter planet.

Mark Gorenberg founded Zetta Venture Partners in 2013, an early stage fund focused on the enterprise analytics market. Prior to Zetta Venture Partners, Mark served as managing director at Hummer Winblad, the first focused fund for enterprise software. There, his most publicized successes in analytics included Omniture (IPO and acquired by Adobe); AdForce (IPO and acquired by CMGI) and Scopus Technologies (IPO and acquired by Seibel Systems).  Prior to his venture capital career, Mark served as an engineering director at Sun Microsystems in Advanced R&D.

Today, Mark also serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Board of Trustees for Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Board of the National Venture Capital Association and the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council.

Mark graduated from MIT and received Masters degrees from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University.

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