Hosted software moves marketing to the head of the line

While marketing resource management remains a relatively immature technology, hosted applications offer an easy entry point and test case, according to Gartner.

While marketing resource management (MRM) remains a relatively immature technology, emerging on-demand applications are helping to pave the way to adoption, according to a recent report from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

On-demand is a great way to get buy-in with some proof of concept.
Kimberly Collins,
research directorGartner Inc.

MRM provides companies with a set of processes and capabilities to orchestrate and optimize their use of marketing campaigns, materials, planning and marketing reports.

"Not everyone believes in MRM, quite frankly," said Kimberly Collins, Gartner research director. "On-demand is a great way to get buy-in with some proof of concept."

Hosted CRM has gained traction thanks to the success of companies like Salesforce.com, RightNow Technologies and NetSuite Inc., and now options are emerging in the marketing realm. Companies like Indianapolis-based Aprimo Inc. and Pleasanton, Calif.-based AssetLink Inc. are providing an easier way for marketing departments to get their technology by offering Web-based MRM, Collins said.

In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2008, more than 65% of companies will, initially, host at least one component of their MRM applications.

On-demand MRM offers several advantages in initial deployments. It requires fewer upfront costs because the application is housed at the vendor's facility and accessed via a Web browser, so economies of scale can be passed on to the buyer. Additionally, because marketing is generally placed toward the end of the line when it comes to technology investments, an application that doesn't require the IT manpower can move quickly to the front, Collins added.

"It's a great way to test drive a solution when you're having trouble deciding between vendors," she said. "There's no harm in trying it out on-demand."

Plus, a proof-of-concept or pilot implementation can help to build competency for the comparatively young technology.

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However, a hosted MRM application is not a marketing cure-all. There are risks involved in deploying it, particularly if IT is not kept in the loop, Collins warned.

"If you've got a lot of complexity with integration into other applications, then you have to seriously rethink on-demand," Collins said. "It could end up that on-demand gets so frustrating it's not worth it."

Additionally, while hosted applications have made great strides in security (and the same economies of scale that exist in the data center extend to security), some companies will be concerned about having their sensitive marketing hosted by another company. Firms that share data with third parties that they allow into the system will have particular security concerns, Collins said. Also, on-demand MRM applications don't tend to offer the deep functionality that their on-premise counterparts do.

One real draw of selecting a hosted MRM application is the ability to move to a hybrid model in the future, where part of the application is run in-house and part is run by the vendor, allowing a division or marketing project to ramp up quickly. For example, a hybrid model could offer a company on-premise functionality while on-demand facilitates working with a distributed network of vendors such as print shops for print on-demand capabilities.

"[Vendors] who have different deployments, they're not integrated today," Collins said. "Nobody has an integrated hybrid model. What we do see is a growing percentage of MRM deployments in different models."

However, Gartner does predict that by 2010 at least 5% of integrated MRM deployments will be hybrid models of on-premise and hosted.


This story also appears at SearchCRM.com, part of the TechTarget network.

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