ISM Announces Its Top 15 Lists for CRM

CRM's key players might be the same, but the CRM market sure isn't. "A lot of people think they know the software now," says Barton Goldenberg, founder and president of ISM. "They've used it, but haven't realized the market has shifted and you have to keep up with it." ISM, which is a Bethesda, Md.-based CRM strategic advisory service, this week announced its annual Top 15 lists, highlighting the year's best CRM products. ISM has been assessing for the CRM industry what it considers to be the top products and vendors each year since 1990 -- though the lists often seem to treat the number "15" as more of a guideline than a rule. (Each of this year's lists actually contains 16 products.)

The winners represent the best comprehensive solutions, Goldenberg says. Through extensive laboratory testing, products are judged in five categories, which include business functionality, technical features, implementation, real-time criteria, and user-support features. Contestants are divided into two categories -- enterprise and small-to-midsize business, which are judged slightly differently.

In addition to relaying the top vendor solutions, ISM also identifies eight notable trends of the year, based on interviews, research, and statistics from analysts, gurus, and customers. Out of this year's eight trends, Goldenberg points to the following four as most noteworthy:

  • Number of mobile CRM offerings and truly moving toward real-time CRM;
  • Availability of Web 2.0-type functionality;
  • Increased use of analytical tools; and
  • CRM offerings via the software-as-a-service model.

Goldenberg says that, to him, mobility is the "hottest piece of CRM" right now and is his number-one trend of the year. He says that, today, there are 75 million members of the Gen Y generation in the U.S and 750 million in the world. "By 2015, 45 percent of the population will be Gen Y," he predicts. "Everyone will buy a mobile device and will expect to be always on and always connected. If you are a CRM vendor and you aren't making your [application] completely available on mobile offerings, you are in deep trouble as it moves towards 2015."

Not surprisingly, many of the year's trends identified by ISM are reflected in a number of the products on both of ISM's top-15 lists -- neither of which, it's worth noting, introduces a single new player this year. However, two slight changes took place. CRM provider RightNow Technologies, with its product RightNow CRM version 8.2, has moved into the enterprise category. Additionally, the vendor Tibco was been removed from the list due to what ISM deemed a shaky year devoted to Web applications.

ISM Top 15 CRM Enterprise Winners

  • Amdocs CRM CES v. 7.5 -- Amdocs Limited
  • Pivotal CRM v. 6.0 -- CDC Software
  • Saratoga CRM 6.6 -- CDC Software
  • C2 CRM v. 8.6 -- Clear C2
  • Consona CRM -- Consona
  • Firstwave CRM v. 3.1 -- Firstwave Technologies
  • Infor CRM Epiphany -- Infor
  • CMS v. 9.0/OnContact CRM V v. 6.1 -- Oncontact Software
  • ExSellence 5.5 -- Optima Technologies
  • PeopleSoft CRM -- Oracle
  • Siebel 8.0 -- Oracle
  • RightNow CRM v.8.2 -- RightNow Technologies
  • Salesforce.com -- Salesforce.com
  • SAP CRM 2007 -- SAP AG
  • growBusiness Solutions -- Software Innovation ASA
  • update 7.0 STRIKE! -- update software AG

ISM Top 15 CRM SMB Winners

  • Ardexus MODE v. 6.0 -- Ardexus
  • Powertrak v. 8.04 -- Axonom
  • C2 CRM v. 8.6 -- Clear C2
  • Goldmine Enterprise Edition -- FrontRange Solutions
  • Salesplace 2008 -- Interchange Solutions
  • Maximizer CRM 10 -- Maximizer Software
  • Microsoft CRM 4.0 -- Microsoft
  • NetSuite CRM 2007.1 & NetSuite 2007.1 -- NetSuite
  • CMS v. 9.0/OnContact CRM V v. 6.1 -- Oncontact Software
  • Siebel CRM OnDemand -- Oracle
  • Relavis CRM -- Relavis
  • Sage CRM 6.1 -- Sage Software
  • Sage SalesLogix v. 7.2 -- Sage Software
  • Salesforce.com -- Salesforce.com
  • Salespage CRM -- Salespage Technologies
  • StayinFront CRM v. 10 -- StayinFront

Other news coming out of ISM includes a recently established commitment to contact center consultation. Goldenberg says ISM has had the idea of moving into the contact center space for about 10 years now. "Contact centers are still to a large extent call centers," he says, adding that ISM strives to bring more value to contact centers by emphasizing and implementing multichannel opportunities that drive efficiency and ultimately improve first-call resolution. The contact center, he notes, "is at the center of any successful CRM initiative. We have to improve contact center efficiency and effectiveness and improve how [the] contact center fits in a multichannel CRM offering."

Does the new direction suggest that ISM will begin testing and ranking the top 15 contact center solutions? Goldenberg says that's not yet clear. He notes, though, that ISM's contact center consulting has begun to gain traction and there appears to be value and a need for the service.

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