7 Surf Atop the Forrester Wave of CRM Suites for Large Organizations

As organizations large and small move out of recessionary spending into periods of recovery, Forrester Research estimates that investment in CRM software will grow. Software purchasers, however, now have different goals and imperatives for CRM software. Bill Band, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst states: "Our most recent research shows that both B2B and B2C enterprises spotlight improved customer loyalty as their top goal," he continues, "But B2B companies are also intent on capturing new customers, while B2C companies obsess about improving the customer experience." 

Luckily for large organizations, there are myriad product choices in the CRM suite arena to choose from, 18 of which Band sifts through in his annual "Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Large Organizations" report. (Forrester defines enterprise CRM suites as those targeted to organizations with at least $1 billion in annual revenue and/or at least 1,000 employees.) Scalability is critical to such solutions, Forrester maintains, which makes global usage and support for multiple languages core concerns.

Primarily, enterprise suites are offered in an on-premises model, but Band's report notes that the use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions is on the rise — and prevalent on this year's Wave diagram. The SaaS players, at this date, more often target midsize organizations, rather than the larger counterparts. 

Forrester assembles its Wave diagram by assessing the relative strengths of each vendor's strategy and current offering, separating the players into sections labeled Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, and Risky Bets. The 18 players are as follows, with each grouping listed in descending order of "strength of current offering":


  • Oracle Siebel CRM
  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce.com — tied in in strength of current offering with Oracle CRM On Demand, Salesforce.com actually led the entire field in its strength of strategy.
  • Oracle CRM On Demand
  • RightNow Technologies — tied in in strength of current offering with CDC Software, RightNow was tied for second overall (with Microsoft) in its strength of strategy. 
  • CDC Software

Strong Performers

  • Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) CRM
  • Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM
  • Pegasystems / Chordiant Software — though listed separately in the Wave, Band notes Pegasystems' April 2010 acquisition of Chordiant.
  • NetSuite
  • Sword Ciboodle
  • Sage SalesLogix
  • Maximizer Software
  • SugarCRM
  • Sage CRM


  • FrontRange Solutions

The graphic also notes each vendor's market presence, but for informational purposes only; that value has no impact on the vendor's placement in the Wave. According to this year's report, Oracle Siebel CRM stands alone in terms of market presence; one level back are, in alphabetical order, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and SAP CRM. The third level of market presence is populated by Oracle's three other CRM offerings and CDC Software, with all other named vendors grouped at the fourth level.

Band offers up five key points regarding vendor activity and placement on the Wave:

1. Legacy vendors win when it comes to depth of functionality. 
Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM still offer the most complete solutions, Band says. New features of both products seek to improve usability. Both Oracle Siebel and SAPCRM have reputations for being expensive and difficult to use. Band notes, however: "Both vendors are working to lower total cost of ownership for their customers by introducing more pre-integrations with other solutions from within their respective corporate families and offering 'rapid implementation' methodologies and tools to reduce upgrade costs."

2. CDC, Microsoft, Oracle CRM On Demand, RightNow Technologies, and Salesforce.com are the leading on-demand solutions.
Although some of these solutions are not as complete in terms of tools and functionalities, Band points out that they get high marks for ease of use and fast time-to-deployment. Band lauds Microsoft's SaaS solution for its native integration with Outlook and the Microsoft technology stack. He calls CDC a "well-kept secret" among the vendors. Noting that CDC's application is built on Microsoft technology, Band specifically applauded its "strong user interface and flexible architecture."

3. There are good options for ERP-heavy organizations.
Band notes that Oracle EBS CRM and Oracle PeopleSoft CRM both offer strong integration benefits for organizations needing to support back-office roles. 

4. Business process management (BPM) professionals don't have to look far for CRM. 
Band says that Pegasystems, Chordiant Software (purchased in April by Pegasystems), and Sword Ciboodle fill BPM gaps. Integration of BPM elements with CRM is important in supporting multi-channel customer service processes, the analyst explains.

5. Even large enterprises can find solutions at low price points. 
Band recognizes FrontRange Solutions, Maximizer Software, NetSuite, SageCRM, Sage SalesLogix, and SugarCRM as vendors at the lower end of the cost list. Although the vendors may lack in breadth, they fulfill many of the needs of divisions within large enterprise, Band notes. 

Throughout the report, Band often restates the point that the Forrester Wave, as with any research report, is only a starting point in evaluating software. 

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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