When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) software and services, there are a lot of choices out there. But which one is right for you? We’ll look at a handful of enterprise CRM vendors — Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP, Microsoft, RightNow, Pegasystems and Sword Ciboodle — to give you a sense of what to look for in a CRM product and which ones might meet your needs.
The selection process for CRM is a complex affair. No cookie cutter formula exists. Each of the analyst firms has their own methods of evaluating. Forrester has its CRM Wave, Gartner its Magic Quadrant, and Info-Tech has a Decision Diamond, a tailored approach that allows a company to enter its own weighting factors into the equation. But such tools can only act as a rough guide, and the specifics of the intended environment often steer the decision in a specific direction.
“No two organizations are alike,” said Tim Hickernell, an analyst for Info-Tech Research Group.
Not so long ago, the enterprise market allowed only on-premise CRM. But software as a service (SaaS) had matured to the point where it, too, is considered to be fit for prime time. “More organizations are considering lower-cost CRM products, especially SaaS deployments with fewer upfront costs,” said Hickernell. “Concerns about SaaS immaturity are no longer biasing CRM decision.”
His company ranks Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle Siebel as the leaders. The first two have moved up into the enterprise space but also have a dominant position in SMB deployments. Hickernell added that Salesforce.com has legitimized CRM SaaS.
“Organizations that need a rapid time to market should consider Salesforce.com,” he said.
On the red side of the ledger, Salesforce.com isn’t strong when it comes to back office integration and continues to lack a partner to cover the ERP side, which can be a deal breaker in the enterprise space.
Microsoft is another company that has moved into the upper bracket in the last couple of years. Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform provides full integration with Microsoft Office, Outlook and SharePoint. It is available hosted or on-premise and is regarded as relatively easy to administer. Surprisingly, Info-Tech said that the CRM module isn’t well integrated with the rest of the Microsoft Dynamics Suite, but that is changing.
Meanwhile, Info-Tech characterizes Oracle as the 10,000-pound gorilla, with unparalleled features, functionality and breadth of industry solutions. Consequently, it is recommended for organizations with extreme vertical industry requirements.
“Oracle Siebel continues to dominate CRM features, but its reputation for cost and complexity are well earned,” he said.
After that come RightNow and SAP. RightNow CX is deemed to be the category leader in customer service and support and customer service knowledge management. It is SaaS only.
SAP CRM, on the other hand, is only recommended by Info-Tech for companies already deploying SAP ERP. In addition to leveraging existing investments, it is a good way to negotiate attractive pricing.