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MRM is Dead. Long Live MRM.

By Jake Sorofman | July 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

Of all the capabilities in the modern marketer’s technology stack, marketing resource management—or MRM—is among the most necessary and unloved.

Why MRM is necessary is of no great surprise. Marketing needs a system of record to manage the plans, the assets and the performance of all the various marketing programs launched out into the wild.

Why MRM is unloved requires more explanation.

I’ll start with the fundamental issue that many of these systems were designed for another time.

As I’ve discussed before, the modern marketing machine now turns on two speeds: if speed one is the campaign rhythm, speed two is continuous. Speed two is personal and personalized, sense and respond. Speed two activities can’t be anticipated or planned weeks and months in advance.

Most MRM products were designed to a serve a speed-one marketing cadence where campaigns are the primary denomination of marketing planning and output—long-lead campaigns with bounded time frames and bounded scope and, perhaps most importantly, well understood requirements that allow for rigorous planning well in advance. In the methodologists’ parlance, more waterfall than agile.

The reality is that many MRM systems have become woefully out of phase with these two-speed realities. They also, it must be said, have a bit of a reputation as rigid, cumbersome and bureaucratic. Marketers may use these tools as a condition of employment—and sometimes with some degree of fear and loathing—but hardly as an expression of free will.

It’s a harsh indictment, I know, but marketers expect more. They expect simple, modern, and intuitive. Just enough process. Cards and lanes, not Gantt charts and lists. They want planning, but not plans.

In a sense, the need that MRM seeks to fulfill is more acute than ever before. Content has always been the coin of the marketer’s realm, but its volume, velocity and variety has exploded with the content-hungry habits and appetites of connected consumers. Big data has collided with big content, causing audience- and channel-specific content variants to proliferate like kudzu or, better yet, gremlins.

Marketers need a system of record to keep it all in order.

But the story on the supply side remains unsettled. From CMS stalwarts to content marketing upstarts to MRM incumbents and the digital marketing hub consolidators themselves, vendors are jockeying for position to claim this important center of gravity, this control point in the modern marketing tech stack.

The ones that prevail think beyond their legacies, designing for the two-speed realities of modern marketing. Others will relegated to the margins as point tools or, worse, the footnotes of the obsolete.

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