• August 11, 2010
  • By William Band, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research

Navigating the Vendor Landscape

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Our latest research indicates that organizations of all sizes are investing again to improve their customer management capabilities—efforts neglected during the recession. To help these organizations pick the best CRM solutions with which to capitalize on the economic upturn, we evaluated 18 leading suite solutions against 516 criteria. Here is a summary of key findings published in our report, The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Large Organizations, Q2 2010.

Flexible, quick-to-implement solutions from CDC Software, Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, and Salesforce.com gain ground. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions RightNow and Salesforce.com are much faster to deploy and easier to change than traditional on-premises offerings. Oracle CRM On Demand is also gaining traction as a SaaS companion to Oracle Siebel. With Microsoft’s SaaS solution, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, buyers value its native integration with Outlook and the ability to work within the familiar Microsoft technology stack. CDC’s Pivotal also leverages Microsoft technology for a solution that is flexible and adaptable to complex use cases. Although not fully featured across the board, these players are gaining acceptance by organizations looking for flexible solutions and short time-to-value deployments. 

Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM still offer the most-complete solutions, with good usability. SAP has steadily filled out its CRM offering, resulting in end-to-end process integration support that no longer comes at the expense of CRM functionality. Meanwhile, Oracle has promoted the Siebel product and brand as its most fully featured CRM solution, with breadth and depth of functionality for many verticals. In their respective current releases, each vendor moves to address key complaints: poor usability, high cost, and long implementation times. The task-driven Siebel 8.1 features the highly customizable Siebel user interface, with embedded analytics. SAP CRM 7.0’s user interface is flexible enough to support varying roles, with drag-and-drop personalization embedded throughout. Both vendors are working to lower the total cost of ownership for users by introducing more preintegrations with other solutions, and offering “rapid implementation” methodologies and tools to reduce upgrade costs. 

Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) CRM and Oracle PeopleSoft CRM remain good options for enterprise resource planning customers. Oracle EBS customers are attracted to EBS CRM’s ease of integration into the rest of the suite and its strength in field service and sales compensation management. Similarly, current PeopleSoft users are attracted to PeopleSoft CRM for its integration benefits. PeopleSoft is also developing functionality to meet the relationship management needs of the higher education sector, and offering new solutions to support human resources. 

Chordiant Software, Pegasystems, and Sword Ciboodle fill process gaps. As enterprises begin to see the importance of truly integrating end-to-end customer-facing processes, they are turning to solutions with native business process management (BPM) capabilities, particularly for integrating multichannnel customer service across functional silos. Sword Ciboodle has pushed into the CRM market by focusing on the intersection of business process modeling, customer service, and customer interaction management. Pegasystems, which offers robust BPM capabilities and is building out a templated set of solutions to support customer service and other customer-facing processes, acquired Chordiant in April. The addition of Chordiant’s process-centric platform and advanced decisioning tools for orchestrating multichannel interactions and real-time customer interaction management will result in process-centric solutions for the CRM market that are even more robust.

FrontRange Solutions, Maximizer Software, NetSuite, Sage, and SugarCRM offer sound solutions best suited for midsized organizations. These vendors have traditionally targeted midsize and small organizations, but the offerings continue to improve and find a home in smaller divisions of large enterprises. They offer a breadth (although not depth) of CRM capability across the board, at a lower price point than that offered by many of the market leaders, which are focused primarily on the needs of large enterprises. 

William Band (wband@forrester.com) is vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research. He focuses on helping organizations establish and validate CRM strategies and plan for project success, a subject he will address at the 2010 CRM Evolution conference in New York (http://sn.im/crmevolution). 

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