The 2014 CRM Market Leaders
A representation of a market in flux, our leaderboard features several new vendors this year. Companies in this space are working to reorganize, refocus, and reposition themselves as providers of all-in-one solutions, but face tough choices. "Vendors have had to decide whether they're going to emphasize apps versus platforms, choose between execution and innovation, and determine whether they'd rather buy or build software," Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, told CRM in May.
Transitioning to the cloud has been a priority for the nominees; those that have struggled to do so have trailed behind competitors. "Marketing clouds are powerful because vendors try to take care of most of the integration for you, and make it as easy as possible to reach across solutions," Sahir Anand, an analyst at EKN Research, says. "The cloud is no longer a groundbreaking concept," he says, "but still holds a lot of untapped potential for marketing solutions."
On the leaderboard for the first time, Adobe impressed analysts with its company direction, earning a 3.9 in the category. Acquiring Neolane in June 2013 was a big move for the vendor, which has since worked to integrate its technology into the Adobe Marketing Cloud, a "highly sophisticated" suite of marketing solutions with campaign management at its core, according to Clare Price, vice president of research at Demand Metric. "Adobe is benefiting from the recent acquisition and the [shifted] focus from content to commerce," Wang says.
Dethroned after winning the category for three years straight, Marketo remains a strong presence in the space and offers a "full-function marketing automation suite with strengths in lead management, rule-based dynamic content, and integrated content testing," Price says. It earned unmatched 4.3s in the depth of functionality and customer satisfaction categories, and is impressing analysts with its versatility. "We see them in almost every industry in our short lists for vendor selection," Wang says.
Named One to Watch last year, Silverpop climbed onto the leaderboard with a 4.1 in customer satisfaction. Analysts were hesitant to award high scores for overall direction, however, because IBM's April 2014 acquisition of the company is still so fresh. Despite earning a modest 3.5 for this criterion, Silverpop is likely in good hands, analysts agree. "Silverpop is a great addition for IBM. It adds a key price point and ease-of-use design point for IBM customers looking to get started with marketing automation," Wang says.
Teradata excelled in the depth of functionality criterion with a score of 4.1. The company has completed its integration of Aprimo's technology following the 2010 acquisition, and now "offers very sophisticated solutions for multistep campaigns, email execution, marketing planning, budgets, and content administration," Price says. The company also "provides a connection back to Hadoop and other data sources, which makes it appealing for marketers in advanced marketing scenarios," Wang adds. Where the vendor struggles, however, is in the direction category. "It lags behind on new apps for personalization and localization," Price says.
Another newcomer to the marketing solutions leaderboard, Salesforce.com earned the top spot with a 4.4 for company direction, the highest direction mark among the five leaders. Its ExactTarget Marketing Cloud also earned a 4.1 for depth of functionality, thanks to its email marketing and lead management capabilities, as well as the thorough integration with Data.com.
The solution's social media capabilities are strengthened by the launch of the Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio, a combination of two recently acquired technologies that sits within the marketing cloud. "The social [capabilities enable] access to social profiles from Qwerly, providing social sharing buttons within content, and simplifying social posting and tracking," Price says.
The company is "brimming with innovation," one analyst says, and its marketing solution remains "a favorite in short lists for its ease of use, great company culture, and linkage back to Salesforce.com," Wang adds.
One to Watch
Coming up just shy of the leaderboard, Oracle remains a key player in the space. The company officially unveiled its marketing cloud in April 2014, promising a new platform made up of marketing solutions it has acquired, including Eloqua, Compendium, Responsys, and, most recently, BlueKai. "Oracle has been upping the game with the right M&As and organic developments," Wang says. Oracle's main challenge now, analysts agree, is catching up with competitors that edged ahead.
Big data continues to play a big role in the business intelligence (BI) space, but it's no longer just a buzzed-about topic—it's a real challenge. With consumers calling for deeper personalization at every touchpoint, it's up to BI vendors to deliver technology with not only descriptive capabilities, but real-time prescriptive and predictive capabilities too. A recent forecast from International Data Corporation shows that the big data technology market will increase by 27 percent annually, reaching roughly $32.4 billion by 2017, igniting fierce competition in the space and keeping industry veterans on their toes.
From chips that can be installed in consumers' homes to monitor electricity use to cars that can self-diagnose their maintenance needs, sensor data "permeates our society, making big data even bigger," Rick Smolan, former National Geographic photographer and CEO of Against All Odds Productions, said in a keynote address at the DBTA Data Summit in May. As big data continues to grow, however, vendors in the space are tasked with developing technology that stays one step ahead.
Though Oracle's high maintenance costs garnered criticism from analysts again this year, the company excelled in the customer satisfaction and depth of functionality criteria, earning a 4.0 and a 4.1, respectively. It's been a busy year for Oracle, which acquired big data platform BlueKai in February 2014. Now that it's got the "key pieces," the company isn't "being shy about making their vision a reality," Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says.
SAP's overall direction score fell from last year's 4.2 to a 3.8 this year, and some analysts believe that uncertainty about where the company is headed is to blame. Customers are waiting for SAP Business Objects to be available on HANA before making any moves, and the delay is frustrating, Wang says. Still, SAP earned a solid 4.1 for its depth of functionality, and "continues to lead with its strength of analytics, data integration, and performance management," Clare Price, vice president of research at Demand Metric, says.
Dropping from a 4.6 to a 4.0 in depth of functionality, SAS Institute is still "strong on all fronts," Price says. The company earned praise from analysts for its Visual Statistics tool, which the company unveiled at the SAS Global Forum in March. Paired with the Visual Analytics solution, the offerings are "taking advanced users by storm," Wang says. "These two products help bring simplicity to the common SAS experience," he adds.
New to the leaderboard, Teradata earned its spot after scoring a 4.2 for depth of functionality. "Despite the move to other vendors for BI, folks who left early for Hadoop are all coming back to Teradata for the pure processing power and the ability to access different approaches via its Unified Data Architecture," Wang says. Overall, Teradata is a "solid player with legacy accounts," Price says.
This year marks the seventh win in a row for IBM, which received its highest mark, a 4.3, for depth of functionality. Big Blue made several key moves over the last several months—in January, the company introduced the IBM Watson Group for analytics and announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in it. "One thing that you can say for IBM is that they do big in a big way," Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, told CRM in January. "This is a huge and important effort at scale that could...affect how businesses create, distribute, and consume information—if done well, which of course remains to be seen."
At its IBM Innovate conference in June, IBM also announced that it is expanding its partnership with SAP to deliver the SAP HANA platform, the SAP HANA One service, and other SAP solutions on its SoftLayer cloud platform. "As more companies opt for cloud deployments over on-premises, [IBM] is looking to become a leader in the cloud," Laurie McCabe, IT analyst and cofounder of the SMB Group, says. Staying true to its historically unparalleled business intelligence reputation, IBM is "simply continuing to do what it does best," another analyst adds.
One to Watch
Qliktech slipped off the leaderboard this year after receiving a 3.5 for depth of functionality. The company is "a pioneer in data visualization," Wang says, but is "behind the leaders in installed base, global reach, and scalability of architecture," Price adds. To remain relevant, Qliktech will need to "step up its game as competitors such as Tableau improve the ease of use that Qliktech introduced," Wang explains.