While everyone loves the idea of out-of-the-box simplicity when it comes to CRM implementations, it's hardly the case, especially with on-premise solutions. That's why third-party consultancies are a critical component of the CRM equation. More than 80 percent of large enterprise CRM initiatives in the past year used consultants, according to Gartner's 2005 Magic Quadrant report.
Between the rise of specialty outsourcing firms and the continued rise of hosted deployments, analysts contend that large consulting firms are feeling the heat. Additionally, industry pundits say the market has leveled off in terms of services offered. "Everybody is doing bread and butter work," says Bill Band, analyst with Forrester Research. "I haven't seen anybody come out as a thought leader; nobody has a standout message these days." The market itself is decidedly top-heavy, with the five largest firms grabbing nearly half of the total market revenue, according to IDC.
Despite a fading CRM practice and new appointments at the CEO and CFO position, BearingPoint remains a 2005 market leader. The company focuses on specific industries where it can draw on its business professionals, and continues to get good feedback from clients. With $1.5 billion in sales and an 8.9 percent jump in sales growth in 2004, the company continues to grow, but in what direction? Analysts were hesitant to give BearingPoint strong marks in reputation for depth of services and company direction. The company remains more tech-savvy than its competitors, but recent moves, new appointments, and financial challenges left one analyst puzzled. "They're sending mixed messages. Customers aren't sure what to expect," the analyst says. "While they're solid at what they do, they're not as broad in their range of services as, say, an Accenture."
Capgemini's strengths in Europe (the company is headquartered in Paris), and certain verticals continue to bring it back to the leaderboard. The company remains strong among its call center business process outsourcing clients, and its systems integrations capabilities remain solid, as well. Capgemini improved in both customer satisfaction and depth of services since last year, posting a 3.5 and 3.4, respectively. However, analysts agreed that Capgemini's strength lies on the other side of the Atlantic. The opinion resulted in a 2.8 in company direction, the lowest among the leaders. "If I'm a U.S. company, they're not going to be on my number one list," says Chris Selland, principal analyst for Covington Associates. For the same reason, another analyst says, "the company has lost a lot of ground in North America. You don't announce that you're launching a North American recovery operation if you're strong in that area of the world. It's like announcing you're picking the bodies from the wreckage."
Deloitte Consulting lives by the mantra "go with what you know." When the rest of the world was moving toward outsourcing, Deloitte stood firm. All around, the company scored well, according to analysts polled. The company remains focused on CRM and demonstrates a solid understanding of client issues, challenges, and the benefits of CRM strategies, particularly in e-business consulting and price optimization. While it lacks the breadth of services of an IBM BCS or Accenture, and isn't into outsourcing as much, Deloitte's customers "walk away loving Deloitte. They provide an outstanding client relationship," one analyst says. Although lacking the revenue and growth of others, based on client satisfaction scores alone, Deloitte would get top marks for the second year in a row. "To Deloitte, it's not about being huge, it's about being smart," Band says. "While they don't have the breadth of services as the others, for the services they do offer--head-to-head against the other players they're very good."
IBM Business Consulting Services rolled up the acquisition of PwC Consulting, and in the process, added depth and functionality to its strategic consulting practice. The company leverages a broad knowledge of and solid relationships with leading software and hardware partners, namely Siebel. This is supported by IBM's vast global reach and a combination of process and technical capabilities across a broad spectrum of industries, which in turn was supported by a 4.1 in depth of services and company direction. If there is a weakness, it could be with its customer satisfaction score, a 3.5, according to analysts surveyed. "I think their clients know [IBM BCS] can get the job done," one analyst says.
If there is one company on most large enterprises' short lists, it's Accenture. It continues to lead with its strong strategy capabilities and considerable systems integration resources. In addition, the company's industry and geographic reach continues to be a strong suit. Its sizable revenue growth of 12.8 percent, its depth of relationships with leading CRM vendors, and its strong analyst scores (with the weakest being 4.0 in customer satisfaction), make Accenture the winner for the second year in a row. "Accenture is one of the big, boring, we-can-do-anything choices," Selland says. "They offer a broad range of capabilities. I don't think anybody expects them to be spectacularly good in one area, but they do everything and do it very well." --Colin Beasty
One to Watch
For the second year in a row Inforte is a consultancy to watch. The company is a small but nimble service provider that operates with a solid management team focused on CRM. Inforte rises above its size to demonstrate thought leadership and vision. Its clients hire the company for its insights and working style. While Inforte focuses on business consulting and front-end work, its recent partnership with Cognizant Technology Solutions, adds systems integration. ---C.B.
Contact Editor-in-Chief David Myron at dmyron@destinationCRM.com
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