CRM: The big four?!

MyCustomer.com

There are only four major enterprise CRM firms left according to Forrester Research - Siebel, Oracle, SAP and Amdocs - which may come as news to the likes of Epiphany or pretenders to the throne like Salesforce.com. Has it really come to this? A choice of four?

Siebel may be down, but it's not out according Forrester Research. The company - which last week warned of yet another quarter of poor financial results - said that Forrester had awareded it the highest score in three evaluations categories : current offering, strategy, and market presence.

In the report, Forrester cites Siebel Systems as the top-rated vendor in multiple key categories, including breadth of offering, industry adaptation, technology, corporate and product strategy, and installed base.

"Siebel offers very strong functionality across all major components of CRM. It continues to offer a clear and compelling vision for CRM, highlighting the importance of the integration of strategy, data, people, process, and technology necessary to improve the end customer experience and drive business results," said Forrester analyst William Band.

"The company's strategy to offer deeply customized industry-specific solutions for all major industry sectors, supported by a deep partner eco-system, supports the promise that it will continue to deliver leading-edge CRM capabilities," he said.

The report also looked at offerings from Amdocs, Oracle and SAP. Band said : "Oracle is attempting to shift the market power away from CRM market leader Siebel through the acquisition of the former No. 2 CRM vendor, PeopleSoft, and combining its products and customers with Oracle's own.2 SAP’s ramp-up of investment in CRM applications development to round out its strength in the back office has improved its position in the CRM big leagues.

"Amdocs’ acquisition in 2001 of the former Nortel/Clarify business creates a fourth well-capitalised player, as smaller companies such as Epiphany and Chordiant are forced into niche positions.

"SAP has grown a substantial customer base for its CRM applications, although the number of active users lags behind other vendors, and it is relatively weak in customer data management capabilities. The company has a deep pool of human resources to develop and market products to all segments of the business applications sector and enjoys consistent revenue growth and profitability.

"[Oracle's] areas of relative weaknesses include marketing and analytics and having fewer industry-customized solutions than major competitors. Oracle’s vision for the CRM market is focused on integration of the functionalities of PeopleSoft into its future Fusion offering, and the promise thereof, of providing technology efficiencies to Oracle customers. The success of this strategy remains to be seen, and Oracle’s target market strategy for CRM is in a state of flux.

"[Amdocs] strategy recognises the importance of improving the end user customer experience through aligning end-to-end processes beyond service, sales, and marketing to include billing and ordering. The company’s solutions are built on an open technology platform, and its solutions are easy to customise and use. Areas where the product is less robust than other vendors include marketing, field service, channel management, and analytics, and the company is partnering with SAS to address some of these gaps."

But overall the prospects for all four vendors looks healthy with market interest picking up again. Band said: "CRM remains one of the most important investment decisions for large enterprises. Enterprises show a continued appetite to invest in revamping their customer-facing processes to drive growth. Spending for new CRM application licenses was $3 billion in 2004 and is anticipated to expand to $3.2 billion in 2005."

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Stuart Lauchlan
News & Analysis Editor
[email protected]

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By ndwalsh
22nd Jul 2005 12:54

I think the answer here is simple, absolutely not. There is so much potential and desire in the market place right now both for the big 4 (as suggested by Forester, and arguable that these are indeed the big 4) and the many other organisations that provide phenomenal quick win results to customer conscious organisations on the path to a longer term customer strategy.

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25th Jul 2005 13:16

With the Breadth and Depth of the offerings from various players, the customers have a lot to gain. Cost versus Time equations have significantly changed.
However, delegating to the right resource/implementation pool is always the biggest challenge.
With product developments happening at a faster rate than ever, the average skillset available in the market is below average and not upto date.
This is where the definition of success and failure originates and in my opinion, most customers have always got this wrong....

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26th Jul 2005 17:10

Stuart

All of the handfull of robust, independent CRM studies (those not carried out by vendors or their symbiotic systems integration partners) suggest very strongly that CRM software IS NOT a critical success factor in CRM projects. Indeed, one that compared the success of different vendors on over 500 CRM projects suggested that the choice of vendor was not statistically significant as a success factor at all.

The success factors for CRM projects in all the studies were a combination of things like having a CRM strategy, senior management leadership, managing using CRM metrics, line management involvement, front-line training and other soft factors.

That doesn't mean that CRM systems are not important, but that they are just the enabler of a larger success that CRM done well brings.

If we take this as being true, the question about which CRM vendor has the most knobs and whistles on its systems is potentially important as part of supplier selection process, but not at all important for CRM project success.

When I worked for one of the major systems integrators, this was an exceedingly difficult message to get across to both the integrators' partners managing bids and to the vendors we were partnering with. I believe that although the situation has got better, the CRM systems-first mentality is still dominant in the CRM industry.

While that remains the case, CRM will continue to fail to deliver what it is really capable of.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

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28th Jul 2005 13:24

I saw this interesting article at forbes.com courtesy of Chris Selland's excellent blog - see "How many of their own customers did they survey?" at http://reservoirpartners.typepad.com/reservoir_partners_enterp/.

The article refers to an Accenture survey of 1,000 UK consumers' customer service experiences.

Accenture's comment was... "Winning companies strike the right balance between using technology to help reduce costs, and streamlining the customer experience with well-considered processes that contribute to more personalized services."...

Technology is not the universal panacea that vendors and (most!) service integrators tout. Changing the way you do business with customers is.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

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25th Jul 2005 19:23

What about Microsoft CRM?

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