The 2008 CRM Market Awards: Market Leaders -- Open-Source CRM

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Having control over your CRM system is vital, and that control can be tenuous when relying on vendors for updates, customizations, and consulting. That’s where open-source solutions come in—and thanks to consumer demand and increasing maturity, open-source CRM makes its debut among our Market Leader categories this year. Open-source software is built around programming code that is open to the public, as opposed to vendors’ proprietary code. Consequently, it has the potential to provide companies with a new sense of CRM independence while at the same time enabling users to modify products as business priorities change. While SugarCRM decisively captured the inaugural winner’s position, the other leaders were extremely competitive for second place. Keep an eye on this rapidly growing space as it adds another option to companies looking for CRM solutions.

Compiere, an integrated ERP and CRM open-source vendor, mostly posted very strong scores—but tied for the second-lowest score among leaders in depth of functionality (3.3), largely because the company has yet to offer a software-as-a-service (SaaS) option. “Compiere doesn’t plan to offer SaaS until 2009, so that doesn’t give customers as much freedom as Sugar[CRM] and Concursive [do],” says China Martens, senior analyst at The 451 Group. However, Martens says the company isn’t going head-to-head with those open-source players, but rather ERP powerhouses such as SAP and Oracle. Watch closely to see if Compiere can move up once it adds a SaaS complement to its current offerings.

Concursive, formerly known as Centric CRM, makes the leaderboard in much the same way as Compiere—with very strong scores aside from a 3.3 for depth of functionality. Martens explains the recent name change could have an impact on customers, both existing and prospective. “Concursive is trying to appear scalable because it wants bigger customers,” she says. “However, it wants the [companies] that are afraid of CRM. That’s one reason why they changed the name, that kind of bad reputation about CRM.” The latest solution from the company, ConcourseSuite 5.0, offers Web 2.0 and social-networking capabilities—something that Martens says could propel Concursive to “forge ahead” of other open-source players like SugarCRM.

With what Alex Fletcher, principal analyst at the Entiva Group, calls a “strong lifeblood in the SourceForge community,” vTiger posted impressive scores—its results in company direction (4.4) and depth of functionality (3.6) were second only to SugarCRM’s. “This company has a strong functional base,” Fletcher maintains, calling the release of Version 5.0.4 “a very strong release frame.” He adds that vTiger’s robust community interactivity has created a solid foundation for “enhanced commercial opportunities moving forward”—and has lent credence to the idea that vTiger can make a run at SugarCRM in the coming years.

And xTuple, according to Martens, focuses more on ERP than CRM, which helps to explain its 2.4 score in depth of functionality. The vendor, she says, “looks at the world through ERP—and CRM is seen as a subset of that.” While xTuple offers come capabilities in the content management area, there is less of an emphasis so far on sales force automation. However, this isn’t leaving the company in a rut. “XTuple is chugging nicely along,” she says. “They are winning more customers...and would like to get some international focus.” Fletcher says that xTuple can make great strides toward other open-source leaders if it can find a way to integrate its three main offerings: PostBooks, Standard, and OpenMFG editions.

Outpacing all other contenders in every single rating we had, SugarCRM does more than merely stake a claim as the first winner of this category—the company fairly well dominates the space. “SugarCRM is the benchmark to go by,” says Pete Marston, a CRM analyst at Forrester Research. According to Martens, the release of Sugar 5.0—available in both on-premises and on-demand editions—proves that the company’s offerings are indeed scalable for any size enterprise, and was a tremendous boost. The area in which SugarCRM needs to improve, though, is indicative of the entire open-source industry: “It still needs some big-name clients,” Martens says, noting that the company seems to agree. The vendor’s new vice president of worldwide sales, George Wright, is a 25-year CRM veteran with stints at E.piphany, SAP, and Oracle—a sign that closing open-source deals is high on the list of corporate priorities. 

one to watch : open-source crm
The ADempiere community broke away from Compiere in September 2006 due to a disagreement with Compiere over “not supporting open source in a transparent manner,” according to Fletcher. ADempiere itself says on its Web site that “a long-standing disagreement between Compiere and some of its users resulted in the creation of a new, spin-off open-source project.” While its stated goal is broad—to become the premier open-source ERP/CRM/software configuration management option—Martens says that she thinks ADempiere’s CRM offering alone is competitive with that of SugarCRM and other open-source leaders. We’ll see if next year the company can claw its way onto the leaderboard.

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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