Best Enterprise CRM Software Suite: The 2017 CRM Market Leaders

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The enterprise CRM market continues to mature, Forrester Research concluded in “The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Enterprise Organizations 2016.” As in years past, it also continues to consolidate, with SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce.com all continuing to make acquisitions to bolster their core capabilities and further expand their industry footprints. 

Among the other industry trends, Forrester noted a shift to cloud-based solutions, with one third of enterprises using SaaS CRM and another third complementing their existing on-premises solutions with SaaS. This comes as enterprises also struggle to manage increasing amounts of CRM data, prompting greater interest in solutions that incorporate analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 

Vendors, meanwhile, are tailoring solutions to specific industry verticals and expanding consulting services to help enterprises overcome the complexities of deploying and maintaining such specialized solutions, according to Forrester.


Though not seen typically as an enterprise CRM vendor, bpm’online scored high in company direction (3.9). Jim Dickie, cofounder and research fellow at CSO Insights, notes that the company has a less robust partner network than other players in this category. Nonetheless, analysts see other strengths. “They are definitely beginning to make a name for themselves with their process-centric approach to CRM,” says Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials. “Bpm’online is functionally capable of meeting the needs of enterprise customers, but most North American deployments are below enterprise level,” adds John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). 

Microsoft posted its highest scores in direction and cost (both 4.0). Ragsdale calls the company “increasingly sophisticated,” with “strong digital and omnichannel offerings.” Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said the company has “excellent vision and product direction,” though it is still missing a commerce solution. Its customer satisfaction score was on the lower end (3.6).

Oracle scored well in functionality (4.3), but its satisfaction score was lower this year (3.3). Also lower was its cost score (3.5). It has extensive front- and back-office functionality, but it “can get pricey,” Dickie says. Still, the company made many of the right moves, analysts contend. “The pieces that Oracle has assembled through acquisition and organic growth are impressive, especially in efforts to provide customers with data and data management platforms…and functionality to engage more effectively throughout the customer life cycle,” Leary says.

SAP scored a 3.7 in depth of functionality, but customer satisfaction was an issue (3.1), as was company direction. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research, says the company “is still playing catch-up,” managing to gain few adopters beyond its ERP base. But continued development and acquisitions will allow SAP to “offer innovative capabilities across sales, marketing, and service,” Ragsdale maintains. 


Salesforce.com claims the title for the second year straight. It scored high in direction and functionality (4.5). Salesforce.com, Leggett says, “leads with a vision and a broad set of capabilities augmented by a vibrant AppExchange.” 

Analysts commended the company for infusing Einstein artificial intelligence into its solutions. “Salesforce has evangelized AI in the industry, but it’s also following through by infusing its cloud platforms with intelligence,” Leary says. “Its investments in providing third-party developers with tools and financial incentives to build AI-centric apps may be one of the most important moves to accelerating Einstein adoption.” 


SugarCRM faltered a bit this year, due in part to a lower score in functionality (3.5). Though Sugar can be more cost-effective than some, users have issues trying to integrate it with other apps, such as Outlook, according to Dickie. SugarCRM also lacks the rich commerce capabilities found in other enterprise-level solutions. At the same time, though, flexibility was cited among Sugar’s strengths. SugarCRM “has flexible deployment options and CRM applications on a singular platform,” which is “rare among the vendors evaluated,” Leggett says.

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