The Inside Scoop On How The CRM Vendors Stack Up

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The most frequent question I get every day is, “What is the best CRM technology solution for my company?” To respond, I worked with a team of five other Forrester analysts (Boris Evelson, Rob Karel, Jim Kobielus, Craig Le Clair, and Roy Wildeman) to evaluate 19 leading CRM solutions against more than 500 product feature, platform, and market presence criteria. Here’s a sneak peek at the key findings from two new reports: “The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites For Large Organizations”, and “The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites for Midsized Organizations”.

Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM still offer the most complete solutions, with improved usability. SAP has been steadily working to fill out its CRM offering, resulting in end-to-end process integration support that no longer comes at the expense of missing CRM functionality. Meanwhile, Oracle Siebel CRM is still the most full-featured CRM solution, with a breadth and depth of functionality for many industry verticals. Both vendors have moved to address key complaints: poor usability, high cost, and long implementation times. Siebel 8.1 features the Siebel User Interface, which can be highly personalized and is task-driven. The SAP CRM 7.0 UI is flexible to support varying roles and offers drag-and-drop personalization that allows any section of any page to be rearranged by the end user. Both vendors are working to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for their customers by introducing more preintegrations with other solutions from within their respective corporate families and offering “rapid implementation” methodologies and tools to reduce upgrade costs.

CDC Pivotal, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand, RightNow, and salesforce.com are gaining ground. These products all get high marks for ease of use and relatively fast deployment times. RightNow and salesforce.com, which are software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, are much faster to deploy and easier to change than traditional on-premises offerings. Oracle CRM On Demand is gaining traction in the market as a SaaS companion to Oracle Siebel CRM. Microsoft also offers a SaaS solution — Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online — and buyers value the native integration with Outlook for both the on-premises and SaaS versions. CDC’s Pivotal leverages Microsoft technology to offer a solution that is highly flexible and adaptable to complex use cases.

Oracle EBS CRM and Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM are good options for ERP customers. Oracle EBS CRM attracts customers by providing ease of integration into the rest of the Oracle EBS suite and offering strengths in field service and sales compensation management. ERP integration is also a strength of PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM, which has unique functionality to meet the relationship management needs of the higher-education sector and offers new solutions to support human resources professionals.

Chordiant Software, Pegasystems, and Sword Ciboodle fill business process gaps. As enterprises begin to understand the importance of truly integrating end-to-end customer-facing processes from front office to back office, they turn to solutions with native business process management (BPM) capabilities that can support highly unique — and flexible — process flows. Sword Ciboodle has pushed into the CRM market with its focus on the intersection of business process modeling, customer service, and customer interaction management. Pegasystems offers robust BPM capabilities and is building out a pre-templated set of solutions to support customer-facing processes — with a focus on customer service. Chordiant also offers a process-centric platform combined with advanced decisioning tools to orchestrate multichannel interactions. In April 2010, Pegasystems acquired Chordiant in a move that will result in an even more robust process-centric solution approach for the CRM market.

Seven vendors offer sound solutions for midsized firms at lower price points. Solutions from FrontRange Solutions, Maximizer Software, NetSuite, SageCRM, Sage SalesLogix, the CRM functionality in SAP Business-All-in-One, and SugarCRM target the midsized and small organization market, but they continue to be improved and find a home in smaller divisions of large enterprises. These vendors offer a breadth (although not depth) of CRM capability at a lower price point than many of the more well-known solutions that cater to the needs of larger enterprises.

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