• August 5, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

SFA Vendors Come and Go in Gartner Magic Quadrant

Industry research firm Gartner recently released its "Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation," rating the vendors in the SFA space. The results show a typical outcome -- Salesforce.com and Oracle's Siebel CRM alone in the Leaders quadrant -- but changes to the report's focus have caused some shifts in the lineup.

The Gartner report defines SFA as comprising applications that "automate sales activities, processes, and administrative responsibilities for sales professionals." The report goes on to suggest that SFA's core functionalities "include account, contact, and opportunity management; sales solution functionality, such as sales configuration, proposal generation, and content management; and sales operations support, including incentive compensation, quota, and territory management."

Report author Robert DeSisto, a Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, writes that "SFA requirements are unique for each business-to-business (B2B) sales organization, based on the maturity and culture of the organization in its use of technology, sophistication of sales practices, and anticipated return on investment." He also notes the continued growth of software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the SFA space. "Within three years, most new SFA deployments are likely to be based on SaaS," he writes. "Unless the user is a classic 'road warrior' -- an individual who spends most of his or her time in disparate geographic locations -- we expect to see fewer deployments on disconnected laptops."

Oracle's Siebel CRM kept a lonely vigil in the Leaders portion of the Magic Quadrant until the 2007 edition, when it was joined by SaaS vendor Salesforce.com. The Magic Quadrant graph, which plots companies against the axes of completeness of vision and ability to execute, portrays Siebel as the more complete solution and Salesforce.com the one more capable of delivering on its promised functionality.

This year's Challengers section, which holds those companies whose completeness of vision doesn't match that of the Leaders, includes three products:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM;
  • Sage SalesLogix (Sage Software); and
  • SAP.

SAP is a new arrival in this portion of the graph, largely on the strength of the new user interface that debuted with SAP CRM 2007. DeSisto writes that it "crosses [the] threshold of 'good enough' to appeal to salespeople," but also praises SAP's functional breadth and depth.

Visionaries -- companies that lack the Leaders' ability to execute but can compete on completeness of vision -- are:

The majority of vendors listed in Gartner's evaluation fall into its Niche Players quadrant. This year, they include:

  • Act! by Sage (Sage Software);
  • Consona;
  • GoldMine (FrontRange Solutions);
  • Infor;
  • Maximizer Software;
  • NetSuite;
  • Pivotal (CDC Software);
  • Sage CRM (Sage Software); and
  • SugarCRM.

Two of these, Consona and Pivotal, were added to contention this year.

A notable number of companies disappeared from the SFA Magic Quadrant this year, in part reflecting Gartner's focus on B2B. One vendor in particular, RightNow Technologies, was dropped because it did not focus its solution on B2B selling organizations. Entellium was dropped from contention due to "lack of proof points of deployments for more than 100 users," according to the report. Saratoga was removed in name only, as new entrant Pivotal acquired it. Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft CRM were dropped from the Magic Quadrant because Gartner was unable to independently validate 15 new named customers that are actively deploying opportunity management functionality for either of those products during the past 12 months.

Similarly, SAP CRM On Demand was dropped from the Magic Quadrant because Gartner could not validate opportunity management functionality in use by at least 15 new named customers during the past 12 months and by at least 100 customers overall, according to the report. "SAP is revamping its CRM On Demand strategy, and Gartner will publish separate research once the new release occurs," the report states.

Changes to the lineup should come as no surprise. "We are not offering an exhaustive list," DeSisto writes. "Other regional and/or vertical-industry SFA specialists do not meet our inclusion criteria." Magic Quadrants are intended to cover a wide cross-section of vendors, including those that offer different delivery models and differing levels of functional breadth and sophistication, and this one is no different.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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