CRM Vendors Get SOA Happy

Top CRM vendors will be allocating ample page space on their roadmaps to service oriented architecture (SOA), according to a new report from Gartner. The study explains that the hype surrounding SOA, in addition to its promise of flexibility, has left more companies desiring this architecture and more vendors looking to update their applications for SOA. The study focuses on the SOA development plans for what it describes as the "four leading CRM vendors": Microsoft, Oracle/Siebel, SAP, and Salesforce.com. These vendors plan to build up their infrastructure software platforms and provide a range of business services to allow their customers the option of SOA, which will gain steady but slow adoption, according to the report. John Radcliffe, research vice president with Gartner and author of the study says that many organizations--most notably larger enterprises--can benefit greatly from an SOA structure as it overcomes the issues with difficulty of incorporating new pieces into a brittle CRM system. Radcliffe says that with SOA, "If you've got something that is much more flexible, you can more easily evolve what you've got. You can be much more agile in terms of helping meet business requirements in an incremental fashion, a cluster." The report outlines the projected roadmaps for each of the larger CRM vendors, who are all approaching SOA differently. According to the study, Microsoft will build off of its current platform to release Titan CRM in mid-2007, which will introduce the company's SaaS option as well as allowing the publication of Web services externally. The report cites the usability and strong partner base of upcoming offerings as strengths for the vendor, but says that slowness of development in the CRM arena may prove to be a setback. Oracle/Siebel CRM, now in the midst of developing new Fusion applications, will use these solutions to develop a native SOA. SAP has a "strong vision," according to Gartner. The vendor plans to release an SOA enabled business services solution in CRM 2006, as well as continuing to develop "built for SOA" solutions for mySAP CRM. Salesforce.com, as an on demand company, strays farthest from the other vendors' SOA visions. Radcliffe says, "It's less about creating a repository of business services. It's more that they have a very capable Web 2.0 platform with an API that you can interface and you can customize." Although the steps toward SOA would indicate a sweeping trend in the CRM industry, Radcliffe believes that these developments on the vendors' side will not necessarily lead to skyrocketing adoption rates. He explains that some new customers who can be categorized as early technology adopters will look at SOA as selling point due to the hotness of the topic in the industry. However, he says that if a company already has a system with a large number of users, "I think people are going to be fairly cautious. They're not going to go with a massive upgrade until all of this settles down. They're going to go in an incremental way." Related articles: SOA Challenges in CRM
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