Midmarket Mavericks

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The week we wrapped this issue I met with six vendors, an author, and two analysts--all of whom had news or updates regarding midmarket CRM. In fact, every time I thought the cover story, "The Art of War" (page 24), was complete, another company would make a big announcement. One side of my brain was shouting, "Make it stop!" The other side was cheering, "This is great!" It's a hugely exciting time in the midmarket. Companies in that segment have a bigger choice of better products with improved services. These benefits are the result of a heated battle among CRM vendors, all eager to win their share of the huge, underserved midmarket. Traditional midmarket CRM vendors like Onyx, Pivotal, and SalesLogix are battling it out with enterprise vendors like Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft and with ASPs like Salesforce.com and NetSuite to provide not only CRM applications, but also CRM services. The article "Breaking From Tradition" (page 30) reveals that many of the traditional midmarket integrators are finding themselves competing against their vendor partners for integration and business process services. And it's just the beginning. The day before I wrote this column Brett Queener, Salesforce.com's vice president of field operations, and Mike Doyle, Salesnet chairman and CEO, both told me that their respective companies are looking for ways to bolster services integrated directly into their applications. The goal, they both said, was to provide offerings for their customers that would simplify the total ownership experience of CRM. And they're not alone: In the past year almost every CRM vendor has taken steps to offer more--and not just functionality. These vendors are actively looking for ways to improve usability, lower total cost of ownership, and boost return on investment. The proof of the initial success of these efforts lies in the results their customers have achieved. "Midsize Companies, Mammoth Results" (page 34) highlights the winning CRM strategies of 10 midsize companies. These companies have used CRM to build sales in a down economy, to reach double-digit growth, to save millions, and to delight customers. So how will the battle end? There's no telling for sure. But one thing is certain, midmarket customers are bound to win big. Hot Topic In this issue we present the special supplement, "Business Process Outsourcing: Knowledge Services," spearheaded by CRM magazine Senior Editor David Myron. The section includes recent news and trends in the knowledge services area, as well as a feature article on how companies can and are benefiting from outsourcing their data management and cleansing.
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