In 2008, the enterprise suite CRM market seemed to specialize in service. Given the economy, large organizations focused inward, and, instead of acquiring new customers, sought to please existing ones.An acquisition by Salesforce.com, for example, led to the introduction of its Service Cloud-and a counterintuitive nod as one of our Service Rising Stars in April. And even Oracle ramped up its talks of integrating service automation. "We see a very steady stream in inquiries and interest in customer service and support," says William Band, principal analyst at Forrester Research, who also notes that mobile has finally emerged as a viable solution. "All of [the vendors] have started looking at mobile again in a big way," says China Martens, an analyst with The 451 Group.
Although analysts are a bit iffy on Microsoft's CRM strategy, the company has made interesting moves in the area of xRM-a play on "CRM" in which the x can be anything. In July, Microsoft notched its one-millionth Dynamics CRM customer (see Insight, page 14), but the vendor took a hit in the category of functionality. Martens wagers that the lower scores are due to confusion over Microsoft's software-as-a-service (SaaS) strategy. "There's some confusion among customers and partners in, ‘How does everything work with the [SaaS] version?' and ‘Where's the upside for us?'" Martens says. Band notes that the next version of Dynamics CRM is supposed to be a leap ahead, but the roadmap remains foggy. "Microsoft is clearly trying to stake a claim which includes the enterprise space," Band says, "[but] they don't have a lot of vertical capabilities [and] the product is not best-of-breed in any specific CRM capability."
After a win last year, and despite far and away the best scores in depth of functionality, Oracle fell off the throne this year.Analysts praise Oracle's ability to integrate (many) acquisitions rapidly and effectively and to keep customers happy-for the most part. Forrester's Band, however, emphasizes Oracle's pitfall: the price tag. "They continue to have pretty much the deepest capabilities across the board and the most vertical solutions," Band says,"but they still seem to be an expensive, heavy solution."
The focus on service suits RightNow Technologies. "RightNow does a tremendous job delivering value when it comes to customer service and support," says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president with Nucleus Research. "They are pioneers in self service," she adds. Customers get a lot of value and are extremely happy." RightNow scored fairly consistently this year, though analysts lightly dinged its functionality outside of service. RightNow does have sales and marketing capabilities, Band says, but it doesn't sell much. "They still see the resurgence in customer service and that's their strength," he says.
"Risky" and "unpredictable" were words used to describe SAP, but the megavendor managed to remain on the leaderboard. "From a company-direction standpoint, [SAP has] a pretty decent product now," Band says. Despite solid scores in depth of functionality, and a compliment from Band for remaining "pretty focused on its own installed base," SAP's customer satisfaction scores still suffer-stumbling in at a low 2.4. Martens pins the low score, in part, on maintenance issues. "[SAP] is doing a lot of things in public you'd think they'd work out in private," she says, though she praises the delivery of Business Suite 7, the focus on processes, and the shedding of acronyms. "They continue to be a very risky and unpredictable application to deploy,"Wettemann says, lamenting the absence of anything best-of-breed.
"You can't argue with success," says Band about Salesforce.com, a first-ever winner in the enterprise CRM category. The SaaS pioneer had a big year-turning 10 and reaching the $1 billion annual-revenue mark. Wettemann acknowledges an amazing agility in shifting domains. "Salesforce.com used to be all about [sales force automation] deals.... No other CRM vendor we've seen has been able to...move from one business area to another," she says, adding that the movement runs both ways: Huge organizations are moving toward Salesforce.com. The customer service moves garnered attention, as did efforts in partner relationship management. -Lauren McKay
ONE TO WATCH : ENTERPRISE SUITE CRM
NetSuite, the on-demand enterprise resource planning (ERP) player, scored well enough to push Amdocs, a former leader and last year's One to Watch, completely out of this category. ("I never hear about [Amdocs] as a CRM player," Martens says.) NetSuite was expected by some respondents to have made more of a push around CRM on the enterprise level, but-despite the June announcement of a 9,000-user deal at a United Kingdom company, its biggest contract to date-the various efforts have yet to gain significant traction. Nevertheless, Band says, NetSuite provides a unique advantage for its CRM customers. "Their integration between front and back office is the most seamless," he says. And while Band says that organizations aren't likely to buy NetSuite CRM+ without the vendor's ERP, he credits NetSuite for increasing its discussion about customer-facing processes.
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