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Gartner names the top marketing software vendors

Marketing Resource Management isn't just for the enterprise anymore and while Aprimo still leads the pack, CRM suite vendors and specialists are catching up.

Marketing Resource Management (MRM) isn't just for global enterprises anymore. As the technology matures, small and midsized companies are deploying it, according to recent research from Gartner Inc.

The Stamford, Conn.-based research firm recently issued its Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management report. Gartner estimates that there are currently 1,025 MRM implementations (including companies in the process of an implementation) in midsized and large organizations. That's up from an estimated 690 in 2005. In addition, the number of new MRM deals rose from 210 in 2005 to 330 in 2006.

"When we look at marketing automation, or even more broadly at CRM, [MRM] is one of the less mature areas overall," said Kimberly Collins, research vice president at Gartner. "We've seen a maturing over the last year, both in terms of the number of companies embracing it and expanding its scope."

MRM is a set of processes and capabilities that help companies optimize and orchestrate their marketing resources, according to Gartner.

The sole leader in the market is Indianapolis-based Aprimo Inc., the report says. @33124

"MRM has long been their core competency, and like any best-of-breed vendor, they're going to continue to innovate," Collins said. "They continue to push the envelope."

Gartner named SAP, Unica and Oracle's Siebel product as challengers in the market, and SAS, Assetlink, Citat, Elateral and BrandWizard as visionaries.

Large enterprise application and CRM suite vendors like Oracle and SAP offer the benefit of integration between marketing and other applications, as opposed to the depth of functionality and understanding of marketing departments that the pure-play MRM vendors provide, according to the report.

Oracle has marketing capabilities from its Siebel and PeopleSoft acquisitions as well as its own E-Business Suite. Gartner rated the E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft applications as niche players. Ultimately, Oracle plans to bring the best functionality of all its products together under one umbrella, dubbed Fusion, which presents an opportunity for the company.

"The key for Fusion is for them to build a best-of-breed from these different solutions and being able to assemble that," Collins said. "The question is: Where will marketing end up in the prioritization process? Initially, Fusion probably won't be parity with any of [the individual applications]. How long does it take to get parity? I think it's a number of releases and iterations."

MRM's midmarket momentum

Increasingly, MRM is no longer just the domain of large enterprises. Midmarket organizations need to be particularly vigilant about marketing budgets and planning, according to Collins.

"In general, a year, 18 months ago, MRM was something only the largest companies were thinking about -- those with global presence in corporate marketing," she said. "The interest is coming now into the smaller and midsized market place. Midsized businesses recognize the value of MRM. They don't have as many people or as much automation."

On-demand and hosted deployments have helped to foster that growth. Collins estimates that 60% of deployments are hosted. These deployments allow marketing departments to bypass long IT project queues, though IT is still involved with purchases. In fact, on-demand deployments are often the result of a compromise by marketing departments that don't want to use IT's preferred platforms.

"Marketing, having watched the pitfalls of sales and SFA deployments, is working much more collaboratively with IT," Collins said.

New names at the top?

While Aprimo earned top honors, Assetlink and Unica are two vendors to keep an eye on. Assetlink has the application most comparable to Aprimo's, according to the report, and Unica is slowly expanding from its core competency of campaign management.

"They're both going to be interesting to watch," Collins said. "I'm thinking we'll have another leader within a year or two."

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