The enterprise CRM market has shifted ground, primarily due to the fact that, for the first time, we’re evaluating Oracle as a single entity now that Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft are fully assimilated. That opens a few slots on the leaderboard, and RightNow Technologies and Microsoft slide into what one analyst calls a “tense leadership battle.” Demonstrating that software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a valid option for enterprises, Salesforce.com has moved up a few notches in the scoring, while Amdocs, the 2005 winner in this category, drops from the list as bigger vendors with broader functionalities win enterprise share.
“You have to like a lot of what Microsoft has been doing lately trying to step up with their CRM products,” says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal at CRM consultancy Beagle Research Group, noting that Dynamics CRM 4.0 and the new Dynamics CRM Online are providing users with more flexibility. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research for Nucleus Research, adds that although Microsoft has done a lot to prove its viability, its main challenge will be getting customers to see it as an enterprise CRM player—instead of as a midmarket vendor. Microsoft scored high in terms of direction (nearly a 4), but lags in depth of functionality (3), which Pombriant attributes to the coupling of CRM with Outlook. It’s time, he adds, for a wholehearted commitment to an on-demand strategy.
RightNow Technologies knows how to keep its customers happy. With the highest customer satisfaction score (a lofty 4.75), the Bozeman, Mont.–based vendor makes up for what it lacks in depth (3.25) with its customer-focused strategies. “I think what RightNow recognized is that its knowledge base is really a key strength...and they continue to leverage that technology to provide greater CRM functionality,” Wettemann says. Pombriant adds that RightNow’s strengths lie in the on-demand contact center sector and in sales force automation, suggesting that, in terms of full-function CRM, RightNow may not have the top product.
Salesforce.com, now a three-time leader, continues to prove that SaaS is gaining momentum in this space, improving its scores in customer satisfaction (from 4.2 to 4.4) and depth of functionality (from 3.1 to 3.6). One analyst points out that there still remains a “clear gap between Salesforce.com and a full-blown SAP or Oracle implementation.” But the company is innovating and expanding with its Force.com platform, and has “made a significant step into the broader enterprise,” Wettemann says. “What we once saw as pocketed deployments are now significant—and, given the platform, can expand from sales to service to performance management, and in some cases, with custom development, HR, and other functions within the organization.” She jokingly suggests that Salesforce.com may even innovate itself out of the CRM category by offering such a broad platform.
SAP, although still a leader, slipped a bit in customer satisfaction—and took a big hit in its score for depth of functionality, as analysts began to question the cohesion of the full offering. “I think there’s a lot of technology within the broader SAP suite that can be leveraged to support CRM needs; however, we see customers much more often deploying CRM because it was part of an overall product bundle than because there was any particular strength in its CRM functionality,” Wettemann explains.
Oracle takes the title this year, now that Siebel (last year’s winner) is under the corporate brand. Scoring solidly in all three categories, Oracle has integrated Siebel and PeopleSoft to deliver what Wettemann calls innovative, cost-effective products. “It’s hard not to consider [it] for anybody in the CRM space,” says J. David Lashar, an associate partner in the CRM practice of IBM Global Business Services. “If you’re an enterprise and you have CRM needs, between on-premises and on-demand, you can find what you need with Oracle.” Still, customer satisfaction scores took a slight hit, which one analyst attributes to the internal shifts occurring with the Siebel and PeopleSoft integrations. “The on-premises product is a richer solution set right now, but I expect [that] over time we will continue to see a blurring distinction between products,” Pombriant says. “I would say in a year or so there would be one product, not a couple of products.” Adding to that, Wettemann says Oracle is leveraging the best pieces from Siebel and driving innovation to make users more productive—all and all, a winning solution.
one to watch : enterprise suite crm
Amdocs, the provider of software and services for billing and CRM, fell out of the top five this year, but it’s not completely forgotten. “What Amdocs recognized very early is developing deep vertical functionality would be a differentiation for itself,” Wettemann says. However, several analysts commented that they just have not seen Amdocs in the past year. One analyst noted he’s heard that customers feel captive to Amdocs and are often charged high implementation costs. Although its pieces are a bit “cobbled together,” according to another analyst, Amdocs is making strides to improve its CRM offering for the enterprise and deliver greater functionality in addition to its billing service.
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