Visionaries come in all shapes and sizes. This time, Gartner's title of "Visionary" -- given by analysts to Zeta Global -- was the result of much hard work by employees and a vision brought to life by John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola; and David Steinberg, Zeta co-founder, chairman and CEO.
Gartner ranked Zeta as a "Visionary" in its Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs report for improving its ability to execute on a complete vision. Last year, the company was a niche player in the digital marketing hub space, but this year it is a visionary.
Zeta's Marketing Cloud is one of five companies recognized in the Visionary category among the 22 other companies mentioned in the report, which includes Marketo, Salesforce, IBM, Adobe and Oracle. Gartner does not endorse any company through this ranking, but the high marks for Zeta are for pricing, value and client support, as well as for specific functions like cross-device management. Challenges still include custom integrations and undeveloped community support.
There are four Gartner quadrants: Challengers, Niche, Leaders, and Visionaries. Steve Gerber, Zeta president and COO, believes the company moved into the "Visionary" category by building a people-based marketing business model with "pervasive personalization" technology that travels with the customer across its lifecycle with the brand.
It all begins with data and one view of the customer. Enterprise customers continue to take note. Revenue growth rose to a bit more than $300 million in 2016, with a gain of about 50% in revenue year-over-year. "We have consistently said we're looking to grow at least between 20% and 30% year-over-year," he said.
Zeta closed 2016 with 1,200 employees -- up from about 800 in 2015 -- supporting about 500 clients. In the past year the client base grew between 35 and 50%. The plan to add about 200 in 2017 will strengthen its focus in engineering and data science to support investments in machine learning. Overall, the company holds about 19 patents with several related to machine learning, which the company plans to embed in every piece of its technology.
The technology now integrates with some client's enterprise resources planning (ERP) and CRM systems, so Zeta's machine-learning algorithms can go into the business's systems to check inventory levels for specific products. The connected tissue between the company and the consumer becomes data.
"We become an extension of their ERP system," he said, which is part of the company's road map. The company's taking into consideration where beacons come into play and Internet-connected devices, especially for retailers.
For Zeta to keep its title, the company will need to compete with up-and-coming players such as Experian Marketing Services, Ensighten, Google, and Kenshoo, among others.