• May 20, 2009
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Beagle's Best and Brightest: The 2009 WizKids

It's important to recognize industry leaders, and not just the ones who dominate the market; sometimes the companies who are doing the best work are still making names for themselves. In that spirit, CRM consultancy Beagle Research Group each year compiles its WizKids Report, a list of front-office software firms that exemplify positive market trends. The 2009 winners have been announced, and this year's crop reflects a market shift from customer centricity to operational excellence.

"When we boil down operational excellence to practical business matters, the striking characteristic shared by this year's winners is this: making companies easier to do business with," writes Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research Group's founder and managing principal, and a CRM magazine columnist. "Early success in any market relies on customer contact -- enveloping the customer with service while engineering figures out ways to simplify use, reduce overall complexity, and lower costs." There comes a time for such companies when they've done all they can do in that regard, and when that time coincides with a recession, they risk choking on prior success.

"When the pendulum reverses course, demand is high for products and services that reduce labor and improve accessibility so that margins will more or less survive [when] overall prices remain flat or, more likely, decrease," Pombriant writes. "In other words, when products begin to commoditize, everything that touches the product will need trimming as well. This is not simply the characteristic of a recession -- though these times can add greater urgency to the trimming process. Accentuating operational excellence is a normal phase in a company's life cycle and the cycle will renew with the invention of new products and categories."

The 2009 WizKids are:

  • EchoSign — electronic signatures
  • Manticore Technology — demand generation
  • Right90 — revenue forecasting
  • TimeTrade Systems — appointment scheduling applications
  • Unisfair — virtual events and environments
  • Xactly — sales compensation management
  • Zuora — subscriptions and billing

All of the WizKids companies operate on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model, either exclusively or as an option.

The WizKids report pairs each vendor description with a case study showing how company ideals are put into practice to achieve results for a customer. "This report really is about solutions that make companies easier to do business with," Pombriant says in a follow-up interview. "These days, this operational approach is at least as valuable as the attention to customer experience, maybe more."

Pombriant's blogpost explaining this year's WizKids can be found here, and a PDF of the report itself can be downloaded by clicking here.

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. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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