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The 2017 CRM Market Leaders: Consultancies
Our finalist and winners in nine categories point the way forward with the latest products and capabilities hitting the market
For the rest of the September 2017 issue of CRM magazine please click here

THE MARKET

Given the size and scope of the CRM market—which Gartner predicted would reach $36 billion this year—companies around the world have come to view qualified consultants as valuable assets for new CRM implementations or upgrades to existing systems. And it’s with good reason: CRM consultants bring objectivity, analytic thinking, strategic planning, and technical mastery to the table when it comes to recommending business process enhancements, facilitating change management, lessening the strain of integrations, reducing risk, accelerating time to value, and ensuring system utilization. 

And as CRM systems get more complicated and the companies deploying them are moving away from out-of-the-box, prebuilt packages to more customized solutions tailored to their unique business needs, it’s no wonder that the consultancy market is predicted to grow by about 8 percent this year.

THE LEADERS

Accenture, absent from CRM magazine’s leaderboards for a while, is back this year, mostly on the strength of an industry-leading 4.2 in its ability to execute and a 4.0 in company direction. Though the majority of its revenue is derived from consulting work, Accenture is gaining a reputation in outsourcing, and this year it beefed up its own solutions portfolio, particularly in the areas of customer engagement and marketing personalization. Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director of CSO Insights, singles out the New York–based company for “a good ability to scale for large projects.” But, as in years past, Accenture still struggles with cost and bringing its delivery model to the cloud, according to Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research. 

French firm Capgemini once again put up impressive scores, including a 4.0 in ability to execute, 3.9 in company direction, and 3.8 in customer satisfaction. The company earlier this year enhanced its capabilities in digital strategy and customer experience design with the acquisition of Idean. Idean is based in Finland, which just perpetuates the analyst perception that Capgemini is, as Dickie says, “strong in Europe” but lacks real market penetration in North America.

Hitachi Consulting fell a bit from last year’s placement as the industry winner. Nonetheless, the company impressed analysts with its ability to execute (4.0). “Hitachi is a strong partner of Microsoft and others,” says Wettemann, who points out that this extends beyond mere implementations to also include “building repeatable solutions.” Hitachi’s cost score of 4.0 was the highest in the category.

Appirio was an industry leader for the past few years and even won the category in 2015, so it’s not surprising that Wipro would make its first appearance on the leaderboard after acquiring Appirio in October for $500 million. “Company direction [for which Wipro received a 3.9] goes up with the Appirio acquisition,” Wettemann asserts, though she notes that “it will be interesting to see how Appirio changes Wipro or changes into Wipro.” 

THE WINNER

Though its standing in the CRM consulting space isn’t as long or storied as the industry’s other major players, Dickie says that Ernst & Young “is coming up to par with long-term marketplace players.” Its top ranking in 2017 would suggest that it’s already there, and then some. The company made its first appearance on the leaderboard in 2015 and this year posted the highest scores in company direction (4.2) and customer satisfaction (4.0) and a second-place score in ability to execute (4.1). We can’t say just how significant it was that the firm created a new practice around conversational commerce a year ago, but it’s hard to dismiss it as mere coincidence. 

ONE TO WATCH 

Deloitte reprises its role as One to Watch, where it ended up last year. The company maintains strong rankings in company direction (3.8) and ability to execute (3.9), and those scores will only improve as the firm moves beyond its Salesforce.com specialty to other cloud technology providers, creating a single cloud ecosystem that delivers marketing, sales, order management, finance, customer service, and e-commerce capabilities. 


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