Marketers Struggling With Acceptance Of Software Apps

Marketing software platforms are improving, but makers continue to struggle with delivering marketers complete collaborative packages with easy-to-use tools.

So says a recent study from Forrester Research that estimates the worldwide enterprise marketing platform (EMP) market, including software license and maintenance revenues, will grow from more than $1.7 billion in 2007 to nearly $5.5 billion in 2013.

Although marketers will continue to invest heavily in marketing technologies such as EMP and marketing resource management (MRM) software, user adoption and acceptance remains lukewarm. Convoluted software applications and expensive packages tend to detour many from taking the plunge.

And those who adopt MRM software typically run the platform as stand-alone systems rather than integrate with the company's resource planning or data warehouse systems, which would provide more accurate data to analyze demand and sales trends.

Marketers consider integrating MRM into their broader company software I.T. platforms to create one system of record that can pull in all customer data and marketing activity, but not many have stepped up to actually implement the idea, according to Suresh Vittal, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It's a progressive move," he says. "Mostly, financial services and B2B high-technology companies are moving in this direction."



Understanding the strengths and nuances of the software becomes critical as marketers sort through numerous packages they can either install on IT systems within the company or access through Web portals hosted by the software manufacturer.

The interest in hosted marketing applications, especially interactive, has also grown in the past few years. "They are less expensive, easier to deploy and help to get products into consumers' hands quicker," Vittal says. "Marketers have begun to feel more comfortable with hosted application because of the security applications many have put in place to protect customer data."

Vittal says marketers typically do not work with large capital budgets, and tend to build software platforms off discretionary funds aimed at spur-of-the moment campaigns or when considering a new agency. Hosted software packages give marketers technical application support and work from a flexible month-by-month subscription model.

More than 80% of marketers participating in the Forrester Research study rely on a marketing service provider or consultant to help them build or manage their database and perform campaign design and segmentation tasks.

Tools to measure marketing campaign performance are improving, but platforms require a lot of work. Many packages still lack collaborative tools, templates, and asset management features partially geared toward digital projects.

Forrester Research says software makers designing applications are just beginning to account for interactive technology requirements. The lack of interactive capabilities in today's software, beyond support for email marketing and Web analytics, could become a problem as more organizations take campaigns online. Platforms have improved, but software makers still have a long way to go to make it easy to maneuver through the applications.

While makers are aggressively adding functions to support project management, workflow definition, and financial management, products still lack collaboration features, which become increasingly important as marketers bring outside support, such as advertising agencies, into the decision process. For example, platforms still need integration with creative development tools like Adobe, proofing tools that enable marketers to collaborate efficiently with outside agencies, and localization and brand consistency management capabilities to support global organizations.

Forrester Research rates Unica as the leader in marketing software because it combines strong campaign management functions with a growing planning and management platform and advanced analytical capabilities like optimization, event detection, and interaction management. The company also has a solid vision that reflects its intent to build out the platform to support all marketing roles, but its cross-application integration still needs work, along with its interactive-marketing strategy.

Aprimo Alterian, Infor, Oracle and SAP are other software makers that marketers might want to consider.

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