The Best Enterprise CRM Software and Solutions: The CRM Market Leader Awards 2018

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THE MARKET

It’s been a good year for enterprise CRM technology providers. A recent enterprise IT spending trends survey by Goldman Sachs shows that IT spending intentions are near record levels, and CRM players that cater to massive companies are getting a significant slice of the budget.

Artificial intelligence continues to drive the conversation; enterprise-level companies are demanding solutions powered by machine learning, automation, and other smart technology. As a result, market leaders have made AI a priority while staying focused on CRM fundamentals, like an omnichannel core, IoT/mobile compatibility, and ease of use. 

THE LEADERS

Earning a 4.6 in depth of functionality, Oracle continues to improve in the eyes of analysts, particularly when it comes to user experience. “Oracle’s Cloud offerings have come a long way. Its functionality in most cases is on par or ahead of the market,” says Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, who notes that Oracle is expanding the AI capabilities in its Adaptive Intelligence platform. What hurts Oracle, however, is cost. “Oracle has some of the greatest breadth of functionality but is still more costly to deploy and manage than its closest competitors,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research.

Simply put, Salesforce.com’s enterprise CRM offering “rocks,” says Paul Greenberg, managing principal at the 56 Group. And as its AI platform Einstein continues to mature, the vendor is becoming a catalyst for change. “Despite high cost, we continue to see satisfied customers and high ROI across the board from Salesforce,” Wettemann adds. It’s no surprise the vendor earned strong scores in depth of functionality and company direction (4.5). And there’s more to come. “The acquisition of MuleSoft and the formation of the Integration Cloud will have its biggest impact on the enterprise buyer [in the coming months],” says Brent Leary, cofounder and partner at CRM Essentials.

Company direction was a problem for SAP last year, but analysts now see a brighter future, awarding SAP a 4.0 in that metric. After acquiring Gigya in 2017 and CallidusCloud earlier this year, the vendor is rebranding its CRM offerings while better connecting front- and back-office tools. “The new C4 Hana holds promise as SAP reinvents the approach to end-to-end CRM from campaign to commerce,” Wang says. 

Our One to Watch in 2017, SugarCRM climbed onto the leaderboard this year and continues to deliver a solid CRM product, according to Wang. Analysts are critical of its direction, however. “Management appears distracted on product direction and go-to-market strategy, [and the] pace of innovation could improve,” Wang says. Still, SugarCRM excels in pricing—it scored a 4.1 in cost. “Sugar’s relatively low cost and flexibility, as well as lower implementation costs than competitors, is driving ROI and high satisfaction,” Wettemann says. 

THE WINNER

Microsoft Dynamics CRM took the crown this year after scoring well in depth of functionality (4.4, up from 4.0 last year). “Excelling in usability and an expanding partner ecosystem is helping Microsoft expand into more large enterprises,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research at the Technology Services Industry Association. Plus, “the tight integration across the Microsoft product family creates a compelling case for companies to switch from more expensive cloud offerings,” Wang says.

Additionally, Microsoft’s partnership with Adobe “fills an obvious void” in marketing and analytics, according to Leary. And when it comes to the business app ecosystem, Microsoft can’t be beat. “Their Citizen App Builder (PowerApps) is a remarkable tool that makes Microsoft Dynamics CRM a serious platform contender,” Greenberg says. 

One to Watch

Slipping off the leaderboard this year is bpm’online, but don’t count it out just yet. “We see high ROI for bpm’online customers,” Wettemann says, but “the company’s biggest challenge is still visibility in North America.” Adds Jim Dickie, cofounder and research director at CSO Insights: “Their platform is attractive to firms who are heavily process-focused, but overall, their solution set and partner network are not on par with major enterprise CRM players.” 

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