One of the most interesting things to come out of the Gartner CRM Summit in London this week was the research firm's assessment of who matters and why in the CRM landscape.
Gartner made a number of very interesting observations that rang true. First up was the idea that in a consolidating marketplace - thanks Larry! - vendor viability should be a number one consideration. There are hundreds of 'cool' companies out there, but how many of them will still be around in five years time. Such cool companies are effectively the external RandD arms of the major players, such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. Indeed of the big 4 players highlighted by Gartner, only Salesforce.com can be said to be an innovator!
So who are the big 4? Well, it's fairly predictable, but they're SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com. Their respective strengths and weaknesses are interesting in their own rights.
SAP is identified as the market leader in terms of licences shipped, but crucially is not the leader in terms of licences actually used. In fact Gartner reckons that in a lot of cases the SAP CRM deployment is not planned until 2012 and beyond while companies struggle to complete their ERP implementations. That said, SAP will continue to lead the market according to the distinctions made above.
Microsoft is the most patient company that Gartner has encountered and as such must be considered a long term player. But it thinks in terms of ten years down the track, not short term. Microsoft is enjoying significant growth with release 3.0 of its product - which Gartner says many see as "Outlook on drugs". But it is concerned that the company's partners are holding it back simply because there are not enough who know enough about implementing the software. But overall, Microsoft has significant forward momentum.
So too does Salesforce.com which is leading the on demand movement. The biggest weakness here is the question of support in certain parts of the world, with Africa being cited as the weakest link at the moment. That said, Gartner reckons that the number of larger users worried about downtime and availabilty concerns is down on last year, while the number of larger enterprise deployments is increasing.
The harshest criticism was reserved for Oracle. Effectively Gartner warned that Oracle's own eBusiness applications and the PeopleSoft applications were now regarded as 'end of life'products with all roads leading to Siebel. While there were no concerns that Oracle would not continue to support existing PeopleSoft customers, there is no value in new customers buying into the existing portfolio. Fusion is still being rolled out incrementally and over a long period of years, which will impact on the viabilty of buying applications from Oracle. As such, Oracle is stalled in the market - and likely to continue in that state for some time.
I find it difficult to disagree with any of that.
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