Best Software and Salesforce.com are leading the race to tap into the potential of the SMB market, according to a new study by Info-Tech Research Group.
The professional services firm evaluated 14 vendors for its report on the vendors' market presence in the SMB space: Best Software, Cobault Limited, FrontRange Solutions, Lynk Software, Maximizer Software, Microsoft, Oncontact Software, Onyx Software, Oracle, Pivotal, Salesforce.com, SalesPage Technologies, Saratoga Systems, and Siebel Systems. A total of 149 vendor clients were interviewed, with Info-Tech aiming to interview about 20 customers per vendor, but because "we didn't always get that," says Janet White, research analyst at Info-Tech and lead analyst of the report, "it's not statistically significant, [but] more of a case study."
Missing from the survey are several major vendors, including PeopleSoft and E.piphany, which were invited to take to part, according to Info-Tech, but were unable to because of prior obligations. Other companies were excluded, however, because of a small list of customers available for interviews, or because their products didn't fall in the realm of how Info-Tech defines the SMB scope.
As part of its evaluation process the firm examined each vendor's customer satisfaction index and analyst index. The former is based on customers' overall satisfaction with the product, how likely customers were to recommend the product to peers and colleagues, ROI, benefits realized, how well the product met customers' original requirements, vendor service satisfaction, and feature satisfaction. The latter considers vendor stability and viability, vendor strategy, technical merit, and the product feature set. The ratings of both indexes were then plotted on the Info-Tech Power Curve, with vendor companies falling into the Leadership Zone, Excellence Zone, or Competitive Zone.
Salesforce.com placed in the Leadership Zone, because of its high ratings in both the analyst and customer satisfaction indexes: 78 percent of its clients were very satisfied and 22 percent are satisfied. White attributes the vendor's high placement to its on-demand approach. "They have a short implementation cycle, which is very appealing to...midsize clients, [and] the low cost of entry is really appealing," she says. "It's also really scalable. You can start with just one department and as you need to grow, it grows with you."
While the report presents high numbers for Salesforce.com, traditional vendor Best Software also had a strong showing: 80 percent of clients were very satisfied with SalesLogix, 10 percent were satisfied, and the remaining 10 percent were somewhat satisfied.
Cobault, Oncontact, Onyx, Oracle, and Pivotal all land in the Excellence Zone, designated for companies that garnered above-average ratings for both indexes, or received a high rating in just one index. For instance, 17 percent of Oracle customers were very satisfied, 50 percent are satisfied, and 33 percent were somewhat unsatisfied with E-Business Suite, but its high analyst ranking secured its position in the Excellence Zone. Robb Eklund, vice president of CRM applications marketing at Oracle, contends that Oracle's placement and the absence of some of its traditional competitors speaks to the vendor's success in the midmarket, but says that Info-Tech's numbers are far lower than the numbers Oracle sees from its quarterly surveys. Additionally, he says, "It doesn't correlate to what we're seeing in our internal surveys, but regardless, customer satisfaction is job number one at Oracle."
The remaining companies--FrontRange, Lynk, Maximizer, Microsoft, SalesPage, Saratoga, and Siebel--fall within the Competitive Zone, which comprises vendors that received either satisfactory ratings for both indexes, or received an above-average rating on only one index.
Most surprising to White, however, was the high customer satisfaction that the smaller companies received. "Smaller staffs seem to have higher customer satisfaction in general, and I think it's probably because they don't have as large a client base, so they really have to focus on the clients they have," she say. "They're able to give them really targeted customer service and that seems to be paying off."
The Info-Tech Power Curve Placement Breakdown:
80 percent were very satisfied with SalesLogix, 10 percent were satisfied, and 10 percent were somewhat satisfied.
78 percent were very satisfied with Salesforce.com and 22 percent were satisfied.
55 percent of clients were very satisfied with Cobault and 45 percent were
29 percent of clients were very satisfied with CMS, 57 percent were satisfied,
and 14 percent were somewhat satisfied.
55 percent of clients were very satisfied with Enterprise CRM, 22 percent were
satisfied, and 22 percent were somewhat satisfied.
17 percent of clients were very satisfied, 50 percent were satisfied, and 33 percent
were somewhat unsatisfied with E-Business Suite.
60 percent of clients were very satisfied with Pivotal CRM, 20 percent of clients were satisfied, 10 percent were somewhat satisfied, and 9 percent were unsatisfied.
29 percent of clients were very satisfied with GoldMine, 14 percent were satisfied, and 57 percent were somewhat satisfied.
40 percent of clients were very satisfied with Everest, 40 percent were satisfied, and 20 percent were somewhat satisfied.
37 percent of clients were very satisfied with Maximizer Enterprise, 36 percent were satisfied, and 27 percent were somewhat satisfied.
13 percent of clients were very satisfied with MS CRM, 74 percent were satisfied, and 13 percent were somewhat satisfied.
30 percent of clients were very satisfied with SalesPage and 70 percent were satisfied.
30 percent of clients were very satisfied with iAvenue, 60 percent were satisfied, and 10 percent were somewhat satisfied.
37 percent of clients were very satisfied with Siebel, 27 percent were satisfied, 18 percent were somewhat satisfied, 9 percent were somewhat unsatisfied, and 9 percent were unsatisfied.
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