Blog post

Once the King, MMH Now Reads Like King Lear

By Rob Brosnan | February 03, 2023 | 1 Comment

Foundational, Yet Fraying

A photo of a king with his head in his hands
MMH: King or King Lear?
Image credit: DALL-E

Multichannel marketing hubs (MMHs) once made headlines. Barely a decade ago, ExactTarget, Responsys and Neolane made news for the eye-popping prices that Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe paid to birth the Marketing Cloud era. Still, in our digitally accelerated, post-pandemic world, a decade feels like a century. Stacks are aging, some providers are replatforming, activist investors are emerging and the whole category feels a little staid. It’s high time to ask, where does MMH go from here?

Multichannel marketing hubs are essential for building relationships between brands and customers, gaining critical insights through data-driven analysis, delivering personalized campaigns efficiently and effectively at scale. Roughly 4 in 5 marketers use MMHs, and their usage increases as they implement customer journey orchestration across the full range of customer experiences. Strong proof that the enterprise software providers’s billion dollar bets on MMH were well made, right?

Yet in 2023, we haven’t reached the end of history. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) carved out a place in multichannel marketing as digital marketing leaders turned to them to shore up deficiencies in aging products, driving up martech’s costs and complexity. The pandemic spurred digital transformation across industries, boosting usage of MMHs, yet the number of brands that use MMHs fell slightly. In the face of surging demand for digital experiences, marketers struggle to find the skills and resources to orchestrate and personalize those interactions. And while the ever-increasing demand for data-driven strategies seems to bode well for MMH, consumers and regulators have shifted attention from the power of big data to the ever-increasing costs of poor data practices.

In short, the state of MMH is troubled and troubling, particularly if your talent, workflows and tech stack are built around today’s MMH.

Predicting Generating the Future of MMH

Predicting the future path of MMHs is risky. Long dominant technologies can be overturned in virtual heartbeat, yet much of what appears disruptive fades just as quickly. Instead of prescribing the future path of MMH, let’s aim instead to name the attributes of MMH’s someday successor. What are the capabilities you need to run multichannel marketing in the future? What are the workflows? How will your next MMH fit in your larger marketing and tech ecosystem?

To help start the conversation, let’s take a page from Wired Magazine and call out what’s basic and what’s extra in the milieu of MMH.

Basic Extra
Campaigns Journeys
Planning Adapting
Return on Investment Return on Engagement
Multichannel Post-Channel
Functions Fusion Teams
Segments Profiles
Predictive Prescriptive
Canvases Generators
Suites Ecosystems
Comprehensive Composable
Convergent Modular
Platforms Engines
Stacks Networks
Data Management Data Sharing


(Re)Searching for What’s Next

So what’s the future of MMH? Whatever comes down the road, we see roadmaps starting to depart from the tried and true. We think the future territory of multichannel marketing remains an undiscovered country. It’s time for marketers, investors and entrepreneurs to let a thousand flowers bloom. Stay tuned: we’re actively researching the future of this once and future category.

What do you think? We invite your feedback, and as always, Gartner clients should schedule an inquiry to discuss these ideas with us.


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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1 Comment

  • Anil says:

    Thanks a lot for this great article