Advertising Claims to the Contrary...

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If you believe CRM software advertising and some media coverage, Siebel is the only game left in town...or Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, and Siebel rule...or Pivotal is the only choice if you don't want Siebel...or SalesLogix is the only middle-market option...or--you get the picture. You had better think twice before believing any of it. The CRM software hype has gotten thick as molasses--and IT-biased editorial coverage in many technology journals is thicker still. You have Siebel off on a toot using assumptive positioning designed to persuade folks that Siebel is it--just because the firm says so. You have PeopleSoft claiming its new release is winning business away from Siebel. (So what?) Then you have Oracle being Oracle--and we are all waiting with baited breath for Oracle to announce that the Higher Powers use Oracle databases to keep track of who is good and who is not. Plus, we have some IT journals proudly pronouncing that any CRM system, except for Siebel, not emanating from an ERP system is history--preposterous to anyone who has spent a day talking to CRM software customers. It has become so bad that you have to wear a gas mask to safely cross a CRM conference expo floor. But hark, is that a fan I hear? With blades spinning fast enough to start clearing the air? Seems so. In fact, if you hold your finger in the air you will feel a real breeze. And it is coming from a new wave of software players better at reading market tea leaves than the old ones were, and smarter from the experience of first-wave players, some of which are now cresting while others are already in decline. While the old guard has been huffing and puffing and trying to blow each other's houses down, ignoring customers and market changes all the while, the new guard has been figuring out stuff about CRM software customers and market trends, such as:
  • CRM customers are becoming increasingly adamant about requiring software to adapt to meet their requirements, rather than adapting their requirements to suit the software.
  • CRM customers are realizing that less functionality can be more--when they don't have to pay for gobs of functionality they don't need.
  • The hot spot of the CRM market is shifting down from enterprise applications to the midsize and even small-business markets--leaving more than a couple of old-guard vendors hideously overpriced and encumbered by inefficient and expensive sales delivery systems. And seeing where the market is headed--but not being rooted in where it has been--new and renewed CRM software providers, including Clientele, J.D. Edwards, OnContact!, Optima, Salesforce.com, SalesNet, and a host more new players on the competitive horizon are creating customer choices that extend beyond the Big 4 (or 6 or 8 or whatever) household names. A true breath of fresh air, indeed. CRM consultant Dick Lee is the author of Strategic CRM: the complete implementation manual and The Customer Relationship Management Survival Guide, and speaks internationally on CRM topics. You may reach him at dlee@h-ym.com or visit the High-Yield Marketing Web site at www.h-ym.com
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