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As CMOs Navigate Their Rise in Status, Marketing Resource Management is Primed for a Second Coming

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Remember when Marketing Resource Management was the next big thing? It started in the digital mists of time in the early 2000s, when several companies formed around Marketing Resource Management with the idea of providing software systems to manage the growing complexity of marketing campaigns.
Turned out it was an idea ahead of its time. The main problem was that there wasn’t actually much complexity to manage back then when digital marketing campaigns consisted of little more than running banner ads on AOL. 
Fast forward to today, and there’s a strong case to be made for the second coming of Marketing Resource Management software.
Marketing departments now have more than enough complexity in their campaigns to merit some kind of management system. Recent years have seen an explosion of marketing channels, ranging from digital to hybrid online-offline to street campaigns. Social media barely existed 15 years ago. Marketing departments these days could be trying to manage 20 to 30 different social media channels at the same time.
The second big change relevant for Marketing Resource Management software is the growing scale and importance of marketing departments. As I’ve written previously, marketing departments are increasingly seen as engines of growth rather than nice-to-have cost centers.
This recognition is bringing new pressures on chief marketing officers to be accountable and prove their value to CFOs and CEOs. That in turn makes it more important for CMOs to have sophisticated tools to track their resources and performance.
When your marketing team was a tight-knit handful of people it may have been possible to manage with spreadsheets. But these days, departments can consist of hundreds of people spread out over different locations and roles. Most marketing spend is on people so if you’re not using them efficiently, it can take a big toll on your performance.
This is why we’ve started to see a revival and revaluation of the Marketing Resource Management field. It appears to be following the classic Gartner Hype Cycle pattern in which a new technology goes through a period of Inflated Expectations followed by a slump into the Trough of Disillusionment before emerging up a Slope of Enlightenment.
In one sign of growing interest in Marketing Resource Management software, Forrester released its second Wave report in early March of 2020 and NewsCred was recognized as a “Strong Performer” in this category. It noted how a new generation of agile, cloud-based Marketing Resource Management providers have emerged to replace the more cumbersome, expensive legacy platforms.
Aprimo is an example of a provider that is reestablishing itself after going through all the ups and downs of the Marketing Resource Management space since it was founded in 1998. It was acquired by Teradata for half a billion dollars in 2010, only to be spun out to a private equity firm for $90 million six years later.
This new generation of more nimble, lightweight solutions should help remove some of the previous stigma around Marketing Resource Management tools as being heavy enterprise software that could take months to roll out. 
I’m not saying that CMOs should all rush out and buy one of these Marketing Resource Management solutions. They need to make a careful decision about what works for them and their company, weighing factors such as how much complexity they have in their channels and their staffing, as well as how big their budget is. If you don’t have the complexity, you run the risk of investing in another piece of expensive shelf-ware in a martech space that is already flooded with more than 7,000 different solutions.  
But the potential benefits are clear. The right solution can improve transparency and lead to better planning, enabling CMOs to show their CFOs what their goals are and how they’re being tracked. 
It can help track waste and eliminate inefficiencies in budgets. It’s not just about cost savings, though. Marketing Resource Management software can also be deployed to get a better handle on content, creating a better consumer experience across channels and improved branding strategies.
Marketing Resource Management tools also offer a potential middle ground between one-stop software solutions and the plethora of “best-of-breed” marketing tools that are available. Although there’s growing fatigue over the crowded field of martech-specific tools, whole solutions like Adobe, Oracle and the SAP marketing suite often fall short because they may do a hundred things, but not one of them as well as you’d like.
Marketing Resource Management solutions offer the prospect of being interoperable, enabling CMOs to bring in best-of-breed solutions for specific areas such as social media publishing.
In today’s increasingly complex marketing world, it’s somewhat shocking to see how many CMOs are still hacking things together with manual processes and spreadsheets.
With growing marketing budgets and rising expectations in the C-Suite, Marketing Resource Management software offers one way for CMOs to deliver the visibility that’s essential to success. And this time, I think it’s here to stay.
Shafqat Islam is the CEO of NewsCred.

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