The biggest trend of the year? That’s easy. “Social media has become, for better or worse, the number-one topic,” says Ian Jacobs, senior analyst with Ovum. A number of vendors acquired social technologies, such as RightNow Technologies’ September 2009 purchase of social networking company HiveLive and Salesforce.com taking on GroupSwim (purportedly to beef up its Chatter product). Meanwhile, maintenance and contract issues stoked concerns as well, reflected in customer satisfaction scores.
Microsoft improved slightly in both customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. Jacobs lauds the company for tying online services—particularly payment abilities—into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “[Microsoft] is broadening the idea of CRM and enabling users to do all sorts of things involving new interactions and touch points,” he says. Still, its depth-of-functionality score (3.1) is lowest among the leaders, and analysts knock the limited distribution. “Microsoft is on the lower end of the enterprise scale,” Jacobs says.
“Oracle is about as big as you can get,” Jacobs says, noting moves into servers and hardware. Size means more tools for customers, as evidenced by Big Red’s 4.2 score in depth of functionality for its Oracle Siebel CRM offering. Michael Fauscette, general vice president of software business solutions with IDC, agrees: “[Oracle is] perceived as feature-function rich,” he says. “If you have heavy-duty customer service needs at the enterprise level, you’re probably going to go with [Oracle] Siebel.” Oracle’s direction rating went from 3.6 last year to 3.9, and Jacobs says he hears about momentum with Oracle’s CRM On Demand (OCOD) product. (Oracle calls OCOD its fastest-growing product.) A customer satisfaction score of 3.3 may not be stellar, but does represent a rise from 2009, perhaps indicating fewer squabbles over maintenance fees and lock-ins.
RightNow Technologies’ score for depth of functionality improved from 3.2 to 3.7, in part because of its September acquisition of social networking company HiveLive and efforts to integrate social media into its traditional customer experience toolset. “The social piece will continue to get attention and will be a real driver,” Fauscette says. Yet Jacobs insists RightNow isn’t really an enterprise suite CRM vendor: “To RightNow, sales is e-commerce,” he says, and customers seem to approve, with a repeat 4.1 score in customer satisfaction. “As [RightNow] comes up with new ways to integrate social media into support, it will be among the best in class,” Jacobs says. There’s always room for improvement, he notes, but it helps to be ahead of the curve in emerging areas.
With public woes over licensing and maintenance, a CEO ouster, and delays surrounding its on-demand Business ByDesign, SAP had a tumultuous year. (See “SAP’s Surprising Spring,” page 13.) “[SAP] recognizes its problems,” Jacobs contends, and he’soptimistic about new “co-CEOs” Bill McDermott (named as one of this year’s Influential Leaders; see page 22) and Jim Hagemann Snabe. Fauscette, however, suggests taking a wait-and-see attitude. Described by some as being in a state of limbo, SAP still managed to parlay a clarified roadmap into improved scores in company direction and customer satisfaction. And while satisfaction remains a sore spot, at least SAP improved to a 2.8 from last year’s lowly 2.4—a bump Jacobs largely attributes to SAP’s response to the customer uprising over licensing and maintenance costs. Still, most analysts applaud SAP’s breadth, and Jacobs says the company’s move to incorporate indirect channels into CRM has been well received.
The competition closed the gap, but Salesforce.com still managed to retain its crown for a second year. A 4.2 for company direction was enough to rank first among the leaders, but still represents a drop from last year’s stellar 4.5, a slide several analysts attribute to a fixation on social CRM and the introduction of the Chatter collaboration platform. One analyst suggests the drop may reflect reduced enthusiasm for the Service Cloud offering (a new addition in 2009), but a beefed-up Service Cloud was one factor in the company’s solid score for depth of functionality (3.8). “Salesforce.com has made a lot of inroads into the enterprise,” Fauscette says, “and seems to continue to gain market share.” Jacobs suggests a lower score for customer satisfaction may reflect rumblings about the suitability of Salesforce.com’s licensing model for a growing (or shrinking) business. Another analyst says the next year will prove interesting for the company, and may hinge on the success or failure of Chatter.
One to Watch
NetSuite claims its second year in this spot. Just missing the leaderboard, analysts note that NetSuite is steadily swimming upstream with bigger enterprise deals, but it’s unclear if that’s where the cloud computing company wants to be. Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst William Band says he simply doesn’t see NetSuite competing in the enterprise space. Ovum’s Jacobs argues that the company has the elasticity to move up from the midmarket if it wants to: “For who they are targeting and for what they do, the tools are great,” he says. “The direction is good, and I expect to see NetSuite keep chugging along.”