The customer relationship management Market Leaders

What makes a company successful is its ability to listen and effectively respond to its customers’ needs. That’s exactly what the leading customer relationship management CRM vendors did this year, as evidenced by their investments in social media, mobile technology, cloud computing, big data, and analytics.

These efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by our panel of judges, who also rated each vendor based on company direction, depth of product functionality, customer satisfaction, and cost.

In each of the 10 categories, we named one Market Winner—the company with the highest overall score compared to its peers. Each category also produced four Market Leader awards and a One to Watch. All of these vendors deserve recognition for their extraordinary efforts over the past 12 months, which is why we are honoring them here.

AS THE EDITORS OF CRM MAGAZINE PRESENT OUR 13TH ANNUAL MARKET AWARDS, WE MUST, AS WE DO EVERY YEAR, EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE TO THE ANALYSTS AND EXPERTS WHO, IN DEGREES LARGE AND SMALL, MADE THIS ISSUE, AND THE AWARDS THEMSELVES, POSSIBLE. MANY THANKS TO: Raj Agnihotri, director of research, Schey Sales Center, the Ohio University College of Business; Leslie Ament, senior vice president, research, and principal analyst, Hypatia Research Group; Sahir Anand, analyst, EKN Research; Jim Dickie, managing partner, CSO Insights; Michael Fauscette, group vice president, software business solutions, IDC; Paul Greenberg, president, The 56 Group; Chris Guido, senior business software consultant, Miles Technologies; Andy Hayler, CEO, The Information Difference; Brent Leary, cofounder and partner, CRM Essentials; Laurie McCabe, cofounder, The SMB Group; Holger Mueller, principal analyst, Constellation Research; Denis Pombriant, founder and principal analyst, Beagle Research; Clare Price, vice president of research, Demand Metric; John Ragsdale, vice president, technology research, Technology Services Industry Association; Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst, Constellation Research; Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, Nucleus Research; and Ali Zaidi, senior analyst, IDC.


CATEGORIES AND CRITERIA: CRM magazine’s 13th annual Market Leader awards rate the top five companies in 10 categories, using a proprietary selection formula. (The overall award rating is based on a composite score of CRM revenues and analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. Unlike software companies, the consultancies are rated according to customer satisfaction, company direction, services offered, ability to execute, and cost.) In each category, we also cite one company (and in once case, two) worth watching for its potential to appear on that sector’s leaderboard next year.


More companies are living by the ethos of customer centricity, so more are investing in customer relationship management CRM. According to Gartner, the CRM industry, currently valued at $20.6 billion, will grow to $36.5 billion worldwide by 2017. That fast growth also means that in 2017, CRM spending will outpace spending on enterprise resource planning for the first time. As is, spending on CRM is already far ahead of that on business intelligence, supply chain management, and collaboration spending.

“Scalability and automation” are the most important requirements for enterprise-level CRM buyers, says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research. Enterprises are also moving to the cloud, with many large companies pursuing a hybrid solution for components of CRM rather than solely on-premises or cloud-based. That makes flexible options important for vendors targeting the enterprise market. “What we’re seeing is enterprises being able to take advantage of the cloud to focus their IT resources on innovation, rather than keeping the lights on,” Wettemann says.


“Microsoft Dynamics CRM is on more enterprise short lists,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association. “The leadership team [has] done a great job in taking Dynamics CRM to the next level,” adds Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst of Constellation Research. Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, sees customers benefiting from “its operating system OEM agreements with laptop, PC, and tablet manufacturers.”

Oracle is a mix of old and new. Its Marketing Cloud is bursting with new acquisitions, including BlueKai, Responsys, and Eloqua. The company is now tasked with integration. “It will be interesting to see how the customer base embraces their marketing cloud initiative,” says Brent Leary, partner at CRM Essentials. “They’ve bought a lot of pieces, but it’s too early to see how they all fit and form a cohesive offering.” Oracle also has classic Siebel, which is “still the gold standard for CRM, with deep functionality and a wealth of industry vertical versions,” Ragsdale says. Not so fast, counters Wang, who says that Siebel, the “once leader, is now facing a mass exodus, except for companies who require complex call center integration and those who have heavily customized industry solutions.” Those companies still have a bevy of options to keep them at Oracle, from its Marketing Cloud to its Sales Cloud to its Oracle RightNow CX Cloud.

SAP earned high-enough marks to remain comfortably on the leaderboard, but “they need to retool their post-Sapphire conference CRM leadership thinking,” says Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group. The company’s customer experience messaging is mostly around its e-commerce acquisition of Hybris, and the “engagement and commerce” message Greenberg and Wang find lacking. “AP will have to do more than use commerce as the opening salvo if it intends to stay competitive for the customer experience market,” Wang assesses.

SugarCRM “continues to gain traction as an alternative to [] in the cloud,” Wang notes. “The new mobile product improves the ‘cludgy’ first-generation solution. Customers are excited about the ecosystem and the partners who are building solutions on top of the platform.” SugarCRM is also trying to make its customers go deeper with its forwarding of the idea of “CRM for everyone,” highlighting the benefits of CRM for anyone in an organization who touches a customer.


On top of the leaderboard once again, wins in the Enterprise CRM Suite category. is still “the straw that stirs the drink,” Leary says, paraphrasing baseball legend Reggie Jackson. received its highest mark, 4.4, for company direction. “Customers are excited about the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Salesforce1, and the overall direction of the company,” Wang says. Although earned its lowest score, 3.5, in the cost category, that isn’t as big of a concern for its enterprise-level customers, who like its open platform and forward thinking.

One to Watch

BPMonline makes its first appearance as a One to Watch in the enterprise category after grabbing the same title last year for the midmarket category. BPMonline combines CRM with business process management, and is known for its rules-based approach and intuitive interface. The up-and-comer may not have enough features for the most complex of clients, though, rating just a 3.5 in depth of functionality. But the global company is growing, recently expanding into the United States, and its 7.x platform has added a social feel to improve the end-user experience.

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