• May 3, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

An SFA Wave Hits a Crowded Beach

Oracle's Siebel CRM narrowly edged out a growing pack of competitors for the top spot in "The Forrester Wave: Sales Force Automation, Q2 2007," a recent study by Forrester Research. Salesforce.com and SAP closely followed Siebel's perennially strong presence in the Leaders section of the Wave, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM has entered that zone as well, according to the report.

In addition to the aforementioned vendors, the report also shows strong performance by NetSuite, Entellium, and RightNow, as well as three other Oracle products, all ranked as Leaders and held back only by comparatively limited market presence. Half of the Leaders are software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings, on the merits of "strong usability and well-rounded SFA features," writes Liz Herbert, a Forrester senior analyst and report author. In all, 19 products were evaluated against 136 criteria to develop the ratings.

A similar mix of installed and on-demand products is found in the Strong Performers section, which is just beneath the Leaders. Most of the entries here are SMB products, led by Maximizer Enterprise and FrontRange GoldMine. Sage SalesLogix ranks well in market presence and current offering, but loses to Maximizer and FrontRange in terms of strategy.

"There aren't any real surprises to me in the report," Herbert says. "SFA is a maturing market and SaaS is still gaining momentum." Spending on SFA is healthy, according to the report; 27 percent of SMBs and 31 percent of enterprises surveyed were planning either a first-time purchase of an SFA system, or a minor or major upgrade to an existing one. While 54 percent of SMBs and 22 percent of enterprises claimed to not be using SFA, Herbert attributes this to the realities of certain businesses. "There are a number of industries where there is very little penetration," she says. "Catalog retailers, for instance, wouldn't need much in the way of SFA because they have no sales cycle."

Mobile SFA adoption remains slow, according to the report; 22 percent of respondents claimed to be fully deployed or upgrading, while 4 percent were in the midst of rollout or development, and 21 percent were evaluating or piloting mobile SFA applications. This leaves 53 percent not planning to implement or unsure of future plans. Despite this, Herbert says mobility is an important aspect of SFA, and some respondents might not have fully understood the question. "When some respondents hear mobile, they don't automatically think of mobile devices," she says. "They think of offline applications or those they run on a laptop when traveling."

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