In 2015, CRM vendors continue to develop systems that appeal more to medium-size businesses, Forrester Research suggests in its "Wave: CRM Suites for Midsize Organizations" report. Vendors are acquiring smaller companies, offering mobile-first solutions, and improving interfaces to help midsize businesses address particular business problems, including how to manage sales performance, generate revenue, and improve customer experience. Mike Fauscette, group vice president of software business solutions at IDC, notices an increased desire to consolidate CRM and unite sales, marketing, and customer service functions. And the midmarket increasingly wants solutions that are tied to the cloud, as well as the convenience of accessing various programs on one platform, notes Esteban Kolsky, founder of ThinkJar.
This year marks bpm'online’s first appearance on the Midmarket CRM leaderboard. And it did so in grand fashion: bpm'online is the only vendor in the category to receive a 4.0 or better for every criterion shown in the accompanying chart. The company also had the highest customer satisfaction and cost scores. In fact, bpm'online would have been the category winner had it not been for its low revenue score—the lowest of the group. "What sets bpm'online apart is that the solution empowers organizations to take a holistic customer viewpoint, and then to create workflows that trigger responses to customer requests," said Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, in an email. Steve King, partner at Emergent Research, says that its "process-centric product orientation [is] good for companies with process cultures and business operations."
NetSuite remains a force in the midmarket category, and the firm appears to be heading down a fruitful path, scoring a 4.2 in company direction. "They focus on the midmarket and deliver value," and have found a "different way of doing CRM that's tied to the whole," Kolsky says. King agrees, calling it "a strong, all-around product," and "a solid choice for those using NetSuite's ERP systems," which link directly to its CRM solution.
Salesforce.com continues to offer a solid set of tools for the midmarket segment, earning a 4.0 in functionality. Price remains an issue: The company dropped 0.4 points from last year's cost score. But what's lacking in affordability is made up for in the overall quality of offerings: Jim Dickie, managing director at CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global, cites the access to add-ons offered through its AppStore as one factor that gives the company a leg up on competitors. King points out that while the company is heading in the right direction strategically, customers have been voicing concerns over support issues. Fauscette commends the company's decision to finally focus on areas beyond sales force automation, such as productivity, enablement, and support.
SugarCRM scored reasonably well in functionality, customer satisfaction, and cost. Ament says that while it's not the cheapest solution, SugarCRM greatly benefits from its partnership with IBM and its positioning as part of IBM PureSystems Centre, which aligns with "IBM ExperienceOne/Smarter Commerce, IBM Collaboration Solutions, IBM Analytics, and IBM infrastructure." King calls it a "good option for those wanting to customize their CRM."
Scoring highly across the board, Microsoft Dynamics CRM continues to hold the top spot, which it seized from Saleforce.com last year. "They've adapted a platform environment," Kolsky says, through which users can easily integrate various components. Ament singles out the access Microsoft provides to related products to "enhance customer engagement via multiple touch points, and to do so with enterprise-wide intelligence supported by Microsoft’s Business Analytics platform." Fauscette agrees and expects even more: "They're strong and have strong partners. The product is good, and if you add to it the [recent statements about an added focus and investment in CRM], I think they're starting to double down."
ONE TO WATCH
With Oracle scoring low on cost, it's not exactly shocking the vendor was bumped from the midmarket leaderboard. The company registered its highest score in functionality, but Kolsky suggests it has not added substantively to its offering and instead focused on marketing a product that has not evolved to benefit customers, many of which it has lost.
[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]