Emerging On-Demand Players Join Traditional Providers to Lead CRM Innovation

Beagle Research has announced the winners of its "CRM WizKids" recognition, a profile of 11 CRM solution providers with standout customer implementation success over the past year. Included are companies like PAR3, Salesnet, Aplicor, Parature, and Proficient Systems. Many are recent startups, while others launched in the late 1990s and survived hard times to emerge stronger. "These companies that have been around and survived [the tech downturn] sharpened their message and focused on very competitive and unique solutions," says Denis Pombriant, Beagle managing principal. The majority of the CRM solution providers highlighted in the report sell their product as an on-demand service. "I think that's another telltale sign of both their innovation and why they are successful and have survived--because they have been able to dramatically lower the price point of their solutions relative to others." Pombriant also notes that some companies have succeeded in their CRM goals where others failed not simply because of a technology partner, but because of a more refined and ultimately more attractive value proposition to customers. NetSuite customer Pioneer Organics, which offers home delivery of specialty groceries, is an example. "If you go back to 2000 and 2001, there were quite a few grocers who tried to make it by offering home delivery, but I think one of the reasons this one succeeded is that they weren't only offering home delivery, it was home delivery of organic produce and a slowly broadened product line." By focusing on a selective client base, the company has succeeded in its pocket in the Pacific Northwest where other, grander ventures have failed. Exceptions like the venerable Walker Information aside, most of the WizKids are small, emerging companies looking to serve both top enterprise clients and small, emerging companies. Is the WizKids roster full of tomorrow's enterprise software winners--or just a list of companies begging to be bought? "There isn't much of an upside for companies to do IPOs [at present], so exit strategies tend to be predicated on the concept of an acquisition," Pombriant says. "I think a lot of them are such pioneers that it would almost be foolish to let themselves be acquired, because I think all of them have tremendous upside." One listed company, Interface Software, was recently purchased by Lexis-Nexis. Aside from the targeted, successful execution outlined in each client profile, the report shows a subtle trend away from sales and marketing operational concerns to dealing directly with the health and well-being of customer relationships. Two WizKids, References-Online and Point of Reference, specialize in successful customer profiles and testimonials, and others address customer satisfaction beyond the numbers. "A lot of these solutions are focused on gathering customer feedback, [which] might not be a prime motivator for everyone but is increasingly important to the success of organizations and allows them to fine-tune their products and marketing and sales offers," Pombriant says. "There will be other companies that want to emulate them." Related articles: LexisNexis Acquires Interface Software
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