SFA for the Consumer Goods Industry Comes of Age

The market for sales force automation (SFA) solutions among the consumer goods industry remains steady and has matured over the past year, according to new research from Gartner. The firm cites the consolidation of vendors, introduction of interoperable components via services-oriented architecture (SOA), and investment in predictive modeling and optimization as positive trends for SFA. It also notes that SFA is primarily being used by consumables companies, and has been slower to be adopted by makers of durable and semidurable goods. Among 13 vendors surveyed in the report, "MarketScope for Sales Force Automation in the Consumer Goods Industry, 2H07," CAS leads the way as the only one to be ranked Strong Positive, with Oracle close behind as the lone Positive ranking. "Our outlook for this market continues to be 'promising.' The various offerings continue to expand their expertise, but the market is still fragmented by solution type and tier," writes Dale Hagemeyer, research vice president of manufacturing at Gartner and author of the report. "We do not view investment in SFA as less advisable, but too many consumer goods companies tend to take too tactical of an approach and do not think strategically in terms of linking these customer-facing processes." Hagemeyer sees the use of SFA primarily among consumables companies as a surprise, since durables and semidurables companies are also experiencing a strong economy and spend one-fifth of their revenue on trade promotions, which is a component of SFA functionality. Two noteworthy rankings in the report are the Strong Positive for CAS and a Strong Negative, the worst possible, for MEI/VeriSync, which recently emerged from bankruptcy. CAS ended up in the top spot overall, moving up from a Positive last year, "based on the strength of its references, vision, flexibility and grasp of business process nuances around the globe," Hagemeyer writes. He also praised the company's analytical capabilities as the best he's seen. MEI/VeriSync brought up the rear in part because since its recent bankruptcy proceedings, it has refused to share data with Gartner, leading the report to rely on market information. While all of MEI's European operations are closed and key personnel have been lost, Hagemeyer believes the company will survive, though with little growth potential. The lack of financial and operating transparency led to the Strong Negative ranking. Among the other vendors surveyed, six scored the middle-of-the-road Promising:
  • Interactive Edge
  • O4
  • RW3 Technologies
  • StayinFront
  • Trimble Mobile Solutions
  • Xtel
Four ended up in the next-to-worst Caution category:
  • Adesso Solutions/Gelco Trade Management
  • Kenosia
  • SAP
  • Synectics Group
"The market continues to evolve as more companies using the technology want to enable the five key processes in combination and look for vendors that can offer comprehensive functionality and meet their business needs worldwide," Hagemeyer writes. Related articles: The Emergence of Scientific Selling Technology Salespeople need new tools to sell in a new world. The 2007 Market Awards: Sales Force Automation SFA is evolving into something larger and more comprehensive than it has ever been. Getting Sales Force Automation to Work How automating the sales process results in better business management and improved CRM. Siebel Rules the Magic Quadrant for SFA Salesforce.com is the challenger and SAP the visionary, while Onyx and SSA Global take time off to cope with changes.
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