• July 31, 2015
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Analyzing the 2015 CRM Market Awards

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IF YOU GIVE yourself the opportunity to geek out over this year’s CRM Market Awards, you’ll likely spot some pretty cool industry trends.

First, let’s begin with the more obvious developments. This was a banner year for Microsoft. Analysts praised the company for building an integrated platform that enhances customer engagements through multiple touch points. As a result, Microsoft won the top spot in four out of our nine Market Leader categories. Some analysts questioned its commitment to its Dynamics CRM product when, in October, Microsoft enabled Salesforce.com’s CRM solution to connect with Microsoft Office 365 and Windows devices. But Microsoft was hardly cashing in its CRM chips; it followed up by partnering with a few more CRM vendors, including Adobe, NetSuite, Marketo, and others.

The second most obvious development is the termination of our Open-Source CRM category. Earlier this year, when SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin visited our office, he claimed that he’d rather not begin conversations with prospects about the benefits of open-source CRM. Yes, his company is an open-source CRM provider. And, yes, his company has led our Open-Source CRM Market Leader category every year since its inception. But he's happy letting Drupal, Joomla, and others fight the open-source fight, while he focuses conversations on CRM and sales force automation. We agree. The open-source label creates an extra hurdle for open-source vendors to overcome, because it can too easily steer discussions toward the value of open-source technology and not what a product has to offer from a CRM perspective. It has taken some time for the industry to catch on, but it has, evidenced by SugarCRM’s appearance in our Midmarket CRM Suite category and the Sales Force Automation category.

Now, for the less-obvious developments: Digital marketing is on the verge of exponential growth. The marketing automation industry is expected to soar 74 percent year over year, until 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan, and the low barrier to entry is the primary reason. This will undoubtedly help garner interest in new marketing solutions featured in this year’s awards issue. After its acquisition of AOL, Verizon plans to create a mobile advertising platform that will offer ad-supported video content free to mobile users. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was recognized for these efforts as an Influential Leader. Rising Star Tealium’s tag management system, when integrated with IBM Commerce, enables marketers to create customized shopping experiences across mobile devices, social media, and in-store locations. Teradata, another Rising Star, is also providing a little marketing magic by helping marketers create personalized offers to anonymous Web visitors with its anonymous-to-known decisioning solution.

Taking a broader perspective also reveals CRM tie-ins to mainstream technologies. Apple won an Influential Leader award for releasing its Apple Watch, which already has CRM solutions from Salesforce.com and SAP created for it.

Additionally, Facebook is aggressively partnering with CRM software vendors to enable its Custom Audiences platform to help enterprises create targeted social media campaigns using data from their own CRM systems. The company has already teamed up with IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, Teradata, and others. For these efforts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is once again honored as an Influential Leader.

Congratulations to these and the rest of this year’s CRM Market Award recipients. May their efforts continue to raise CRM’s standard of excellence.

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