• July 5, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Salesforce.com Joins Siebel Atop Gartner Magic Quadrant for SFA

Salesforce.com and Oracle's Siebel CRM are the two sales force automation (SFA) products on the market with optimal combinations of ability to execute and completeness of vision, according to Gartner's recently released "Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation, 2007." Unlike last year, when Siebel had the leader quadrant all to itself, the new results pit the newcomer against the old stalwart, with future challenges expected from products such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage SalesLogix, and SAP's hosted edition.

The Gartner report notes that software-as-a-service (SaaS) continues to be a main topic of discussion in the SFA space; the research firm predicts that within three years the majority of new SFA deployments will be SaaS-based. At the same time, Gartner sees a decline in disconnected deployments laptops, except in the increasingly rare case of the "road warrior" user, defined by Gartner as an individual who spends the majority of his or her time in multiple disparate locations.

Salesforce.com receives praise from Gartner for its growth of revenue and of new customers, as well as its good usability and its leadership in the SFA market. Salesforce.com is a "thought leader on leveraging [the] SaaS model (for example, the Salesforce.com platform including Apex Code)" and has a "strong relationship focus on the sales business buyer," writes Robert DeSisto, vice president of CRM at Gartner. DeSisto raises red flags, however, about the company's relatively high subscription price for some editions; weak relationships with technology organizations; and customer complaints that reporting and analytics should have more customization and configurability. Additionally, DeSisto writes, the "AppExchange ecosystem needs to demonstrate more viable best-of-breed vendors that can support large enterprise requirements."

Oracle's Siebel CRM has been the gold standard in CRM and SFA for many years, with the latest versions boasting "high product viability, deep industry knowledge, [and] demonstrated scalability...supported by strong Web services," DeSisto writes. He goes on to predict that "Siebel will serve as the basis of the majority of Oracle Fusion Sales functionality in B2B environments," and, as such, will benefit from integration with the Oracle middleware and database technology. Siebel CRM has the "broadest functional footprint across all areas of SFA, including opportunity management, solutions management, performance management, and analytics," he notes.

However, DeSisto warns that Oracle has only had one customer reference migrate to the current version, Siebel 8.0, though the company claims that more than 15 customers will upgrade during the next two years. Siebel is also infamously resource-intensive, which is the core of DeSisto's other caveats. "Unlike lower-end solutions, Siebel's broad functional footprint and focus on automating complex business processes place high demands on IT or require consulting partners," he writes. Customers using Microsoft or IBM infrastructure must continually validate Oracle support for these platforms, and "when end-to-end process design and significant customization are required, a strong commitment to training dedicated resources must be made by IT and the business."

While Siebel and Salesforce.com are technically the only leaders in the latest SFA Magic Quadrant, a number of other viable options exist. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, positioned in the challengers quadrant, is not far from being recognized as a leader by Gartner, lacking only slightly in completeness of vision. Sage SalesLogix, another challenger, has experienced improved market momentum and is often praised for its customizable business processes.

Another Oracle product, Oracle CRM On Demand, might emerge from the visionary quadrant into leadership if it improves its ability to execute. SAP's hosted edition, listed as a niche player, is not far from either axis of the Magic Quadrant; a few refinements coupled with more user uptake could put the company into stronger contention with the leaders. (SAP's on-demand edition, by comparison, fares as poorly as any of the 20 products rated by Gartner: lowest on ability to execute, and third-lowest on completeness of vision.)

Landslide, another visionary, appears in Gartner's assessment for the first time this year, and is noted for having excellent focus on the salesperson and the customer, though some functional gaps and a small market presence limit its appeal for now. Other vendors making their debut in Gartner's SFA Magic Quadrant report this year are SugarCRM, Maximizer Software, and GoldMine. No longer appearing on the report are Pivotal (which Gartner says "should no longer be considered for best-in-class, cross-industry SFA deployments") and Oracle's JD Edwards, which, for the first time, failed to meet Gartner's requirement for deploying new customers in the last year.

One way for all vendors to improve their offerings is simplicity of presentation. "We see a focus on simplicity as a theme to improve adoption among salespeople," DeSisto writes. "Specifically, limiting required-input data fields and user-interface screens enables salespeople to navigate using the SFA application."

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