The 2008 CRM Market Awards: Market Leaders -- Midmarket Suite CRM

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The competition remains fierce for the largely untapped market of companies with revenue between $100 million and $1 billion—in fact, only one-tenth of a point separated this year’s four leaders. In a push to cater to the midmarket’s limited technology budgets, many vendors are offering software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. This would have included German software provider SAP, but the delayed release of its Business ByDesign—an on-demand solution specifically geared toward the midmarket—helped keep the company off the leaderboard for the second straight year despite helping to validate the SaaS market for this space. Sage Software clawed its way back into the rankings, while NetSuite fell slightly, winding up as our One to Watch.

“I think it’ll be really hard for anyone to say that Microsoft hasn’t improved,” proclaims Laurie McCabe, vice president of small and medium business insights for AMI-Partners. The scoring community seems to agree that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and its on-demand Online edition have been a plus. Despite having the lowest depth of functionality score (3) among the leaders for the second straight year, Microsoft cashed in 4s in both company direction and customer satisfaction, second only to Salesforce.com. And while McCabe says functionality is still a work in progress, that may not be insurmountable. “Obviously, Microsoft has the resources to keep investing,” she adds.

Even though questions still remain around whether the Oracle brand has fully replaced the Siebel name for midmarket buyers, the company stays on the leaderboard for the second straight year, buoyed by the top score in depth of functionality (4.2). More important, though, according to Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, is the innovation in analytics, productivity tools, and integration of social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies. “A lot of the vendors are partnering there, but Oracle has actually done interesting innovation in that area,” she says. “Talking specifically about CRM, the integration of consumer Web and collaboration technologies is probably the most advanced we’ve seen a vendor itself offer.”

RightNow Technologies remains one of the midmarket category leaders for the fourth consecutive year. The latest release of its on-demand CRM platform, May ’08, includes new chat and survey capabilities in its multichannel offering. The company’s strength in customer service is both a blessing and a curse, but Robert Bois, research director at AMR Research, says RightNow is nonetheless pushing the right buttons. “From a customer experience management standpoint [RightNow] is innovating at a pretty rapid clip, [which] is getting so much more attention now as companies see that as being a long-term strategic differentiation factor,” he explains. “Its innovation in that arena is certainly hitting a market demand.”

After a two-year hiatus, Sage Software—which has three offerings for the midmarket and smaller businesses, Act! by Sage, Sage CRM (formerly ACCPAC CRM), and SalesLogix—made its way back to the top five this year, shining in functionality and customer satisfaction with solid scores of 3.7 in both areas. Bois says that the company continues to invest in CRM and put out new releases in each of its applications. However, marketing has been a problem in the past for Sage, and Bois says that is still the case. “The company has visibility, but it’s not getting the word out quickly enough that it is continuing to invest,” Bois says. “There just isn’t that fresh feeling about its brand.” Having a brand-new chief executive officer may help going forward.

Salesforce.com finds itself firmly in the winner’s circle for the third consecutive year, outpacing all contenders in both customer satisfaction and company direction, and having the second-highest score in depth of functionality. Analysts praise its extremely strong marketing efforts, but beyond visibility, Wettemann explains Salesforce.com cofounder, president, and CEO Mark Benioff “has walked a delicate balance in two areas—first, between supporting small and large customers, and, second, between driving adoption of the on-demand platform versus greater CRM functionality within the product.” While she admits it’s easy to take sides on Benioff’s business philosophies, Wettemann says that the bottom line is clients are satisfied. “All-in-all, what we’ve seen from [both small and large] customers is that they’re happy,” she says. 

one to watch : midmarket suite crm
After two years as a market leader, NetSuite took a small step back, just barely falling out amid a highly competitive group. While receiving strong scores in company direction and depth of functionality, customer satisfaction dropped from a 3.8 in 2007 to a 3 this year. “In the past six months, NetSuite has really looked at how to assess and maintain both short-term and long-term customer satisfaction,” Wettemann points out. Watch closely to determine if its aggressive company direction to go global with its OneWorld software, which allows multinational organizations to run NetSuite, and to attack SAP’s manufacturing space could bring it back to the leaderboard next year.

To view the other 2008 Market Leader categories, click here.

To view the rest of the 2008 CRM Market Awards, click here.

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