The Art of War

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Once served by only a handful of CRM vendors, midmarket companies are now spoiled for choice. Today midmarket enterprises are integral to the growth plans of virtually every CRM provider--from enterprise leaders with their rosters of Fortune 500 clients, to hosted service providers who in the past focused primarily on small businesses. These vendors are working diligently to provide midmarket firms with highly targeted products and services. These efforts translate to more choice and better options for midmarket companies than ever before. Enterprise Players Harvest Low-Hanging Midmarket Fruit The proof of the midmarket's power is how focused enterprise giants like Siebel Systems have been on introducing new or improved midmarket solutions to expand their market share. For midmarket users that means the cream of the CRM software crop is working hard to cater to their special business needs and desires. Last fall CRM market leader Siebel launched CRM for Everyone, its strategy to deliver CRM applications to enterprises and medium-size businesses in both hosted and traditional client/ server options. Part of its approach is to offer products that support a variety of standards and open source protocols, including J2EE, .NET, and Web services. Integral to the CRM for Everyone strategy is Siebel CRM OnDemand. Also launched last fall, OnDemand is Siebel's reentry into the hosted space. (The company pulled its initial foray into hosting, sales.com, two years ago.) Hosted in partnership with IBM, OnDemand offers customers sales, marketing, and service functionality. With the goal of gaining a "commanding lead" in the midmarket, shortly after launching OnDemand, Siebel acquired CRM application service provider (ASP) Upshot. Siebel plans to integrate the Upshot and OnDemand offerings. According to CEO Tom Siebel, this demonstrates the company's commitment "to provide CRM solutions for every segment of the market." "CRM for Everyone is about letting companies of all sizes and industries decide what's best for them," says Keith Raffel, Siebel's vice president, CRM OnDemand. "We don't presume to decide whether an on-premise solution or a hosted one or a mixture of the two is best for the customer. Siebel offers them all and lets the customer choose." In 2003 Oracle released its Oracle E-Business Suite Special Edition, a midmarket solution comprising 15 of Oracle's most popular applications, including financial, order management, purchasing, and inventory. Sold in a way that many midsize companies prefer to buy technology, the Special Edition includes software, hardware, support, and implementation--and is sold through a distribution channel rather than directly through Oracle. "Oracle continues to hear from its small and medium-size customers that what they really need from enterprise software vendors isn't slimmed down versions of core products marketed to the midmarket," says Robb Eklund, Oracle's vice president of CRM marketing. "Instead, SMEs are telling us that they need the same scalable, secure, functionally rich solutions that larger companies use, delivered to them in cost-effective packages." Recognizing the varying needs of the midmarket, SAP is aiming its SAP All-in-One product at companies at the higher end of the midmarket, while its Business One solution targets smaller midmarket firms. In addition, SAP is offering 23 vertical versions of its midmarket solutions. "We have really focused on rapid implementation of the type of capabilities found in mySAP, and [have] a strong focus on microvertical approaches," says Bill Wohl, vice president of product public relations at SAP America. "These smaller businesses need solutions specifically tailored to their operations, but need them up and running within weeks." SAP has teamed with more than 300 channel partners to reach the midmarket. According to Wohl, SAP expects 15 percent of its overall licensing revenue will come from the midmarket by 2005. PeopleSoft has placed reaching the midmarket among its top three initiatives. Although the company has been serving the midmarket for more than six years, it wasn't until spring 2003 that the company began a series of aggressive moves to get the attention of users. The first push was PeopleSoft Mid-Market, 13 new products aimed at businesses with annual revenue between $50 million and $500 million. The products, specially designed for the midmarket, focus on CRM, finance, human resources, and procurement, and most of the processes are more than 70 percent preconfigured. Shortly after launching PeopleSoft Mid-Market the company acquired midmarket vendor J.D. Edwards. PeopleSoft has integrated its original offering with J.D. Edwards' applications under the new PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne umbrella. "We are taking certain functionalities, like PeopleSoft's call center solutions, and building that out on the EnterpriseOne line," says Les Wyatt, vice president and general manager of EnterpriseOne. This past January PeopleSoft released a hosted, full-suite solution built from the ground up for the midmarket, according to Bill Henry, vice president of marketing and strategy, PeopleSoft Global Services. The offering includes hosting and application-management services for all of its front- and back-office applications, as well as database, storage, and hardware solutions. The company has partnered with application provider Surebridge to deliver the hosting service. "About one half of our customers are midmarket companies, and we recognized that these firms have very unique needs," Henry says. "They have all the complexity of an enterprise-level organization, but with limited IT staff. Now, with our midmarket hosted offering, these companies can devote their IT resources to projects that drive growth, not to maintaining software." Hosting Vendors Serve Up Hot Solutions
Some industry watchers claim that the action in the midmarket is being fueled by hosted CRM solutions. "Siebel would not be interested in that space if it were just small business or stagnant," says Ian Jacobs, principal analyst for CRM with Current Analysis. "Hosted solutions are where the midmarket growth is real. In other areas of the midmarket, enterprise vendors use those sales as replacement for high-end sales that are not happening. It makes sense, but it's not the huge sales that were expected. That is coming." Gartner CRM Research Director Wendy Close predicts that by year-end 2004, online CRM application service revenue will account for more than 25 percent of the CRM application market for SMBs. Most industry watchers attribute the boom to the lower cost, decreased maintenance, and quicker deployment of hosted offerings. Salesforce.com paved the way for much of the ASP market via its evangelical approach to marketing. Over the past few months the company has been very busy with product upgrades. This past fall Salesforce.com unveiled major upgrades to its hosted CRM service (Winter '04) and its on-demand application server (sforce 2.0). The company also recently released a version of its product that integrates with Microsoft Office. In addition, Salesforce.com has continued its rapid growth. The company has about 9,000 customers and at press time was finalizing its initial public offering, valued at $115 million. Even rival Mike Doyle, chairman and CEO of Salesnet, cheers the IPO, noting that it is further validation of the ASP market. But Salesnet has its own plans. Last fall Salesnet began offering a private-label edition of its application, which can be fully preconfigured to meet the needs of its OEM customers. Through the application syndication model, Salesnet's online CRM solutions can be rapidly deployed by partners and bundled into their own offerings. In March Salesnet announced Guided Performance Selling, a hosted solution that includes three components: software-as-a-service (its delivery model), configuration-as-a-service (preconfigured sales solutions), and integration-as-a-service (more than 200 prebuilt application connections). "Better salespeople equal better sales, so everything we do is to help salespeople," Doyle says. NetSuite has also been busy. The company changed its name (it was NetLedger) to reflect its fully integrated front- and back-office applications. "Midsize companies are moving beyond internally focused CRM features like tracking forecasts to implementing advanced features like order management so they can more effectively sell and service customers," NetSuite President and COO Zach Nelson says. In January the company launched version 9.5, which has a heavy emphasis on embedded real-time analytics, and is preparing for its major 10.0 release. The company also added customization capabilities, including NetSuite Custom Records and NetSuite Custom Code. Custom Records allows users to manage complex data relationships; Custom Code allows users to define business logic that is industry and process specific. Not only is this a boon to users but it also quiets skeptics who have long criticized ASP solutions as too generic. Although Salesforce.com also offers customization, NetSuite is taking a slightly different tack by requiring code changes to be done inside the NetSuite application using JavaScript. This makes the NetSuite code changes platform agnostic. Midmarket Mainstays--and Microsoft Mania Sales, support, and distribution of CRM products into midmarket firms are very different from enterprise companies. Midmarket companies are often looking for more training, complete product sets, and vendors that can hit time and delivery objectives. So, incumbent midmarket CRM vendors like Onyx, Pivotal, and SalesLogix may be better positioned to take advantage of the boom. But the increased competition makes it harder to get noticed and easier to be squeezed out by vendors that have more money and resources. That may have more midmarket players merging, according to Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager at the Yankee Group. She predicts that larger firms may eat up point solution vendors, and midmarket vendors may merge to expand their opportunities. One of Pivotal's moves is to merge: In February the company was acquired by CDC Software, a wholly owned subsidiary of chinadotcom. The deal, valued at nearly $57 million, will give Pivotal increased R&D, tech support, and marketing resources. The company is also looking to simplify customers' initial implementations. Pivotal launched its FastPath services program, which is designed to help users deploy Pivotal in as few as 20 days. The company has also released enhancements to its vertical offerings, like new lead and marketing management capabilities within its Pivotal Healthcare Insurance offering. And it plans to release two major upgrades this year. While Pivotal is in a state of flux, Onyx officials say the company intends to woo Pivotal customers. Onyx has put in place a formal program to help Pivotal users migrate to the Onyx solution. Onyx also introduced its own quick-start option, called CRMExpress, which is a fixed-price, out-of-the-box application. It is designed to be up and running in under 90 days. Customers that prefer a hosted model can select the IBM eBOD CRM On Demand solution, which delivers Onyx enterprise CRM functionality via ASP. Onyx is not without its own uncertainty. Brent Frei, the company cofounder, chairman, and CEO, announced earlier this year that he plans to step down as CEO. Frei will remain chairman of the board. The company is currently in the process of a CEO search. Meanwhile, SalesLogix continues to add to its partner channel. This allows the company to have a network of resellers and third-party add-ons to help strengthen its position and reach. To support both partners and customers, SalesLogix's parent company, Best Software, has launched the QuickStart program, which bundles software, support, services, and training into one solution that has been designed around best practices. QuickStart allows users to implement SalesLogix in 30 days, and comes with a guaranteed upfront, fixed price. To give customers more choice, this past December Best Software's parent company, Sage, reached an agreement with Computer Associates to purchase ACCPAC. According to Best CEO Ron Verni, the acquisition will enable the company to offer CRM via an ASP option, and will increase its reach through the ACCPAC reseller channel. At press time the companies were still awaiting regulatory approval to close the deal. FrontRange has been quietly planning big changes the company will launch later this year. Its GoldMine and Heat products will move to one platform, and the company will introduce additional products, functionality, and delivery channels. Many observers claimed that Microsoft's reputation as the 800-pound gorilla sparked the shake up of the CRM space. The software giant announced its entry in 2002 and over the next 12 months rivals scrambled for position while they waited for Microsoft's product to be released in February 2003. Although Microsoft's MS CRM caters to the lower end of the midmarket, many competitors still fear Microsoft will move up into their territory. However, while Microsoft's channel partners are diligently selling and promoting MS CRM, the company itself has been relatively quiet. "Regardless of what Microsoft says, everyone is concerned [it] will make a big push up into the higher end of the midmarket," Current Analysis' Jacobs says. "That, coupled with Siebel and others coming down, has most true midmarket players, including SalesLogix, Onyx, and Pivotal, pondering their ultimate fate. The question is, will they just get squeezed until they pop?" Midsize Companies, Giant Opportunities Definitions of the midmarket vary widely. Some say it comprises companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenues, while others use employees as the yardstick and say midmarket companies have between 25 and 500 employees. Regardless of how it is defined, analysts agree that the midmarket is the CRM sweet spot.
  • Andy Bose, CEO of research firm AMI Partners, estimates that there are 100,000 midmarket companies, with fewer than 20 percent already having CRM solutions.
  • Karen Smith, research director of CRM at market research firm Aberdeen Group, estimates that there are almost six million companies needing CRM in the SMB and midmarket segments.
  • Jupiter Media Metrix estimates that the purchases of CRM, e-commerce, and financial management applications by small to medium-size businesses in North America will grow to $3.4 billion in 2006, up from $971 million in 2001.
  • AMR Research says the midmarket, combined with divisions of enterprises, is a $44.1 billion CRM opportunity over the next 10 years.
  • The sharpest increase in CRM deployments will occur in companies with revenues ranging from $500 million to $1 billion, according to Gartner Dataquest. Contact Senior Editor Lisa Picarille at lpicarille@destinationCRM.com
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