Will Marketing Platforms Ever Outperform?

The market for enterprise marketing platforms (EMPs) continues to evolve, with several vendors offering useful solutions for various scenarios, but the overall market is still struggling to develop a comprehensive solution, according to the latest Forrester Wave from analyst firm Forrester Research. Unica and Aprimo led the pack of eight companies included in the report. The "Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Platforms, Q1 2008" report relied on lab-based analysis and interviews with 100 customers to rate the eight vendors on 160 criteria across three scenarios:
  • marketing leadership,
  • relationship marketing, and
  • marketing operations.
Unica scored the optimal "Leader" ranking for the marketing leadership and relationship marketing scenarios, with Aprimo nailing top marks in the marketing operations scenario. The report defines an enterprise marketing platform as a "comprehensive marketing suite that supports the entire marketing organization." Within that framework, Forrester describes enterprise marketing platforms as being focused on six core applications:
  • campaign management;
  • customer analytics;
  • interaction management;
  • marketing resource management (MRM);
  • marketing asset management (MAM); and
  • lead management.
In addition to Aprimo and Unica, the other vendors included in the survey were Alterian, Infor, Oracle (Siebel), SAP, SAS Institute, and Teradata. Together, these vendors account for more than 2,000 enterprise deployments of marketing technologies, and, by Forrester's estimates, for slightly more than one-third of worldwide marketing platform revenues for 2007. All eight vendors are closely bunched together in the report: In any given scenario, they all rated as either a "Leader" or a "Strong Performer" (with the exception of Teradata and Infor in the marketing operations scenario, where both vendors were labeled as a "Contender"). No vendor fell into the worst category, "Risky Bet," in any scenario. Oracle's Siebel line was seen as delivering the broadest overall solution, while SAS offers a strong, analytically driven solution for relationship marketing. Two companies included in the survey for the first time, Alterian and SAP, were found to show promise, and were named "strong performers" in all of the report's scenarios. Suresh Vittal, senior analyst at Forrester and author of the report, says that "marketers are asking for an integrated platform that supports all aspects of marketing." That dream, however, "has been largely unrealized." While there are viable solutions for most types of marketing scenarios, there is not yet one that does it all, and online marketing in particular has been neglected by vendors -- a reality that forced Forrester to exclude that scenario from the report. Forrester predicts annual growth in the EMP market in excess of 20 percent for each of the next five years, fueled by what the report calls "marketers' focus on delivering differentiated customer experiences, increasing efficiency, integrating customer communications across channels, and unifying customer data and insight." The report also outlines the four roles where EMPs can be useful:
  • Marketing leadership role: focuses on strategy, measurement, and marketing optimization;
  • Relationship marketing role: emphasizes customer insight and value management;
  • Marketing operations role: focuses on budgets, processes, and fulfillment;
  • Interactive marketing role: focuses on integrating interactive channels. The market for this scenario is fragmented, and no vendors focus on a platform for it, Vittal says -- a situation that must be rectified given the growing importance of online marketing.
In addition to the lack of a comprehensive solution, one of the key shortfalls in the EMP market is that the products tend to be quite complex, not user-friendly, and difficult to master. "The next iteration of platforms is going to focus on simplifying," Vittal says. "The idea is that the learning curve is reduced. If you want widespread adoption and marketers of various skill levels to use it, you need to simplify. A lot of work needs to go into the user interface." Related articles: Tech Solution: Internet Marketing Solutions Business Problem: Marketers lack the ability to launch targeted, analytics-driven marketing campaigns online. Top 10 Marketing Automation Tips Its potential is huge, but marketing automation also creates new organizational challenges. Here are some strategies for ensuring your project's success. Feature: The 2007 Market Awards: Marketing Automation This has been the year of the end user in marketing automation. Marketing Automation Hits the Mark Marketers are seeing solid ROI from new technologies. Alterian Introduces New Level of Integration The marketing technology vendor releases the latest version of its EMM solution, targeting the gaps across customer touch points. Aprimo Is Still First in the Quad The latest Gartner MRM ranking hails the company as the industry leader, but visionary competitors are on their way. Marketing Automation Grows at Autobahn Speeds Marketing automation is soon to be come a marketing must, according to a new study released by Gartner. Gartner Slots Multichannel Campaign Management Vendors SAS Institute, Teradata, and Unica maintain positions as leaders in the space, while Oracle's Siebel Systems gets bumped up. Market Watch: Marketing Tools Emerge as Comprehensive Solutions Marketing resource management, a combination of workflow and knowledge management, helps with the planning, coordination, and collaboration of marketing resources.
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