• September 24, 2004

Hot Seat: Can a Single Vendor Satisfy an Organization's Complete CRM Needs?

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Derek Pollitt, associate director of CRM strategy, development, and deployment, Bell Canada "We're a big company--I like to joke that we probably have one of everything around here. I'd like to ease the integration part and go with just one vendor, but I don't think that's feasible." Laura Preslan, research director, AMR Research "It depends. Best-of-breed and niche tools have more advanced functionality than the big ERP tools, because they seed the market of early adopters before 'the big guys' come in and commoditize it. Therefore, while leading-edge early adopters need multiple CRM systems, conservative companies that tend to lag behind competitors can be quite satisfied with one vendor for their CRM needs."
Jon Van Duyne, senior vice president and general manager of midmarket CRM solutions, Best Software "The essence of a successful implementation with a single vendor is investing in one committed to enhancing the user's existing processes and building new ones by delivering CRM as a development platform rather than a vanilla application." Joe Outlaw, president and chief analyst, Outlaw Research "If you allow for configuring, and in some cases custom tailoring...I think many small and midsize businesses would find that one full-suite vendor's applications could satisfy the majority of their CRM application needs." Brian Kelly, EVP of marketing and product strategy at KANA "'Single vendor' shouldn't imply 'a single behemoth application.' Organizations first turn to point solutions that address specific [pain points], and then later build out their suite as additional needs arise." Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research, Nucleus Research "An 'integrated' solution may be only integrated in a marketing sense--and given today's integration technology, a combination of tools that meet clear, specific needs may be a better strategy." Patrick Angelel, vice president of marketing and alliances, Onyx Software "It's unrealistic to say that a single vendor can address every piece of the CRM puzzle--it's more complex than that. It is critical to be able to integrate and exchange data between a variety of systems that touch your customer processes, but it is not essential that all of these systems come from a single vendor." Denis Pombriant, managing principal, Beagle Research "It is not reasonable to think that there is a single vendor out there for all of the potential solutions. My advice is not to shop for a vendor per se, but to shop for an architecture--specifically, an architecture that is flexible, standards-based, and open." Patrick Bakey, senior vice president and general manager, SAP America's CRM business unit "Customers want one strategic partner." Chris Selland, vice president, sell-side research, Aberdeen Group "What most companies need these days is to streamline their infrastructure, not make it more complicated--so if a single-vendor solution is a fit... that can help. In CRM these days, less is more--for every application a company implements, they should be thinking of where they can take out three [or more] applications."
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