The 2011 CRM Market Leaders

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Tin or aluminum is symbolic for a 10th wedding anniversary, because each soft metal suggests that a marriage should be pliable and durable—so it can bend without breaking. It’s fitting, then, that we exhibit some flexibility for our 10th annual CRM Market Leaders Awards by asking analysts to incorporate a new criterion—cost—into each vendor’s overall score. In some cases, the cost scores greatly affected leaderboard positioning. In other cases, product-line upgrades, mobile offerings, social media connections, and cloud-based solutions prompted shifts in vendor placement. Clearly, it’s an evolving market—one that continues to be shaped by this year’s CRM Market Leaders.


The Market
Spending on CRM software is expected to see the largest increase of all the application software markets worldwide, with the biggest areas of investment expected to include the online channel, software-as-a-service deployments, customer loyalty management, customer service applications, and mobile.

On-demand CRM offerings are, well, in demand, and not just from SMB clients. Those solutions are gaining traction among enterprise customers as well. According to a study by Nucleus Research, 63 percent of enterprises with more than 1,000 employees have adopted on-demand CRM technology. SaaS within the CRM industry is expected to exceed $4 billion in total software revenue in 2014, a figure that would constitute more than 32 percent of the total CRM market, according to Gartner.

The Leaders
Microsoft gained ground on Salesforce.com this year in functionality (collecting a 4.3 score) with its release of Dynamics CRM 2011. Analysts also liked the business software giant’s aggressive pricing strategy, which Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, characterized as more of a “penetration strategy.” But Microsoft isn’t out of the woods yet. A recent investment in an online application marketplace “still needs refinement, but it shows Microsoft’s recognition that a partner ecosystem and readily accessible add-ons to CRM are particularly important in the SaaS space,” Wettemann adds.

NetSuite has always had “a stronger play in the SMB space than the large enterprises,” says Jim Dickie, managing partner of CSO Insights, but that is starting to change. In fact, the company’s score in company direction (4.2), as well as its high mark in cost (4.2), propelled NetSuite onto the leaderboard this year after being named as a One to Watch for the past two years.

“NetSuite’s all-in-one integrated solution encompassing CRM, ERP, finance/accounting, and e-commerce, developed on a customer-centric information infrastructure, offers true value for a reasonable cost,” says Leslie Ament, vice president at Hypatia Research. “Adding frosting to this cake is a workflow management module with point-and-click, rules-based workflows that enable line-of-business executives to automate, streamline, and improve common business processes.”

Oracle captured the attention of analysts in depth of functionality, scoring a 4.7. The company has “by far the richest feature set of any vendor in the market today,” says Michael Fauscette, group vice president of software business solutions at IDC.

Wettemann agrees. “Without dispute, Oracle Siebel CRM continues to provide the most CRM functionality and support for the most complexity across sales, marketing, and service,” she says. Oracle took a hit, though, in cost, which turned out to be a double-edged sword. “You’re paying a high price for [Oracle], but you get what you pay for,” Fauscette says. He and others have noted, however, that Big Red has started to offer aggressive pricing around its on-demand solutions.

While SAP’s scores in most categories were consistent with industry averages in the category, the company did grab the spotlight with its latest software release. That version, Dickie says, “is very rich in mobile and analytics support.”

The Winner
Salesforce.com, on top for three years in a row, led the pack once again in customer satisfaction (4.2) as well as company direction (4.5). Those scores did not surprise Wettemann, who says that the company “has built its business through real customer references and a very enthusiastic and collaborative user community.”

Analysts agree that Salesforce.com has continued to expand its core CRM functionality and add-ons through the AppExchange, which Dickie calls “an asset.” But, more importantly, the company has made all the right investments in social CRM, cloud functionality, and collaboration tools.

One to Watch
is the choice this year, reprising a role it held in 2008 after having made the leaderboard in 2007. Several analysts were particularly impressed with the company’s direction during the past year or so. “Amdocs offers a compelling vision for enterprise customer management through guided support of pragmatic business processes (such as revenue management, provisioning and fulfillment, billing, charging, and policy), reporting, analytics, and real-time alerts, coupled with anywhere/anytime/any touch point,” Ament says. This “illustrates a unique, industry-specific focus in this category,” and “has enabled Amdocs to develop a robust solution tailored to the requirements of the telecommunications and media sectors.”


The Market
Major CRM vendors increasingly are targeting development efforts toward the midmarket, which hasn’t been as quick to adopt CRM solutions as some other industry segments have. Analysts indicate that the midmarket is a key revenue driver for CRM vendors and will see an implementation boom in the next three to five years.

According to Forrester, the midmarket segment was on pace to account for 38 percent of CRM revenue last year, which, according to AMI Partners, comes from 54 percent of mid-sized companies. Among those businesses, CRM solutions delivered through a software-as-a-service model will continue to grow during the next five years, while spending for on-premises solutions will be flat. Forrester called SaaS solutions “highly probable” for companies with between 250 and 500 users.

According to Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research, the lines are blurring between midmarket and enterprise CRM, with vendors like Microsoft and Salesforce.com showing an “ability to scale to support large enterprises as well as traditional enterprises.”

The Leaders
Microsoft, a fixture among the leaders in midmarket CRM, this year finished with a respectable 4.0 total score. The company’s Dynamics CRM offering, updated for 2011, continues to captivate analysts and customers because of its easy integration with other Microsoft Office products. Dynamics CRM also came with a lot more bells and whistles, but it benefited most from added functionality. In addition, the company’s new aggressive pricing strategy, growing partner ecosystem, readily available add-ons, and rising investments in an online app marketplace all position Microsoft to compete against Salesforce.com.

NetSuite continues to shine because of its “best-designed front- and back-office solution for the midmarket,” says Jim Dickie, managing partner at CSO Insights. The company put up impressive numbers in depth of functionality (4.2), customer satisfaction (4.0), and company direction (4.1), but many analysts saw it as not quite on the same level as some of the larger competitors. “Although NetSuite doesn’t provide the breadth of CRM functionality that others do,” Wettemann says, it does deliver “real productivity gains for end users, particularly in mid-sized businesses.”

Oracle, usually associated with much larger-scale deployments, continues to excel in the midmarket, too. The company, which tied for the top score in depth of functionality with a 4.4, was kept out of the overall top spot because of such issues as long deployment times, arduous training times, and other adoption challenges, all of which were reflected in the company’s low customer satisfaction score of 3.3. Wettemann says the company suffered in other ways: “We’re not seeing a lot of Oracle CRM activity, largely because we believe customers are waiting to see what Fusion CRM looks like and when it will be available.” Oracle took the greatest hit, though, on cost, where it scored a mere 2.9, by far the lowest of any vendor in the category.

SugarCRM is a newcomer to the leaderboard in the midmarket category, having posted an especially impressive 4.1 in cost. As with its small-market product, SugarCRM excels in the midmarket segment because of its open-source CRM solution set, which Michael Fauscette, group vice president for software business solutions at IDC, characterized as “a very good value, particularly in the midmarket.”

The Winner
Salesforce.com, the hands-down winner again in midmarket CRM, has seen competition heat up this year from Microsoft. Nonetheless, Salesforce.com beat its rivals in all the scoring criteria: 4.4 in company direction, 4.4 in depth of functionality, 4.3 in customer satisfaction, and 4.2 in cost. To stay competitive, “Salesforce.com has continued to expand on its core CRM functionality while expanding its ecosystem of value-added CRM add-ons through the AppExchange marketplace,” says Wettemann, who also lauded the company for investing in social CRM, cloud functionality, and collaboration tools.

One to Watch
RightNow Technologies, which has reached the leaderboard each of the past five years, slipped this year, scoring just slightly higher than the industry average in all criteria. The company’s offerings fell short in the larger CRM market largely because they are geared more toward customer self-service than they are toward broader CRM applications. Its company direction scores also fell for that same reason, and most of the moves RightNow has made in the past year have centered on its search and customer intent–gathering products.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The editors of CRM magazine would like to extend their deepest gratitude to those who took part, to varying degrees, in evaluating the CRM Market Awards. The issue you’re holding, and the CRM Market Awards themselves, simply wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of these judges, assessors, commenters, and raters: Raj Agnihotri, assistant professor, Cotsakos College of Business at William Paterson University; Leslie Ament, vice president of customer intelligence research and client advisory services, Hypatia Research; Ryan Brock, vice president, AMI-Partners; Jim Dickie, managing partner, CSO Insights; Michael Fauscette, group vice president for software business solutions, IDC; Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group; Andy Hayler, CEO, The Information Difference; Steve King, partner, Emergent Research; Brent Leary, partner and cofounder, CRM Essentials; Carter Lusher, chief analyst, Ovum; Laurie McCabe, partner, SMB Group; Denis Pombriant, managing principal, Beagle Research; Adam Rapp, assistant professor of marketing, Clemson University; Madan Sheina, principal analyst, Ovum; Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer, Ventana Research; Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO, Constellation Research; and Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, Nucleus Research.


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