The Inside Story: How The Top 18 CRM Solutions Stack Up In 2012


The most frequent question I get every day is: “What is the best CRM technology solution for my company?” I recently teamed with four other Forrester analysts (Kate Leggett, Boris Evelson, Brian Walker, and Stephen Powers) to evaluate 18 leading CRM solutions against more than 400 product feature, platform, and market presence criteria. Here’s a sneak peek at our key findings from two new reports: The Forrester Wave™: CRM Suites For Large Organizations, Q3 2012 and The Forrester Wave™: CRM Suites For Midsized Organizations, Q3 2012.

■        CRM solutions are widely adopted, and buyers plan to increase investment. In fact, 50% of the 556 North America and European large organizations we recently surveyed have implemented a CRM solution (a marketing, sales, or customer service application). An additional 23% have plans to adopt a CRM solution within the next 12 to 24 months.

■        Consolidation alters the vendor landscape. In response to the demand for solutions that support the cross-channel, end-to-end customer journey that defines the quality of the experience an organization delivers, large CRM vendors such and Oracle, SAP, and have acquired direct competitors or have snapped up companies in adjacent spaces to broaden the range of their offerings.

■        SaaS solutions are growing fastest. Buyers like the low upfront costs, usability, flexibility, and speed-to-value of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Fast-growing SaaS solutions include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Oracle’s cloud CRM products — Oracle CRM On Demand and Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service — and The Sage CRM products for the midmarket (Sage SalesLogix and Sage CRM) have also been retooled to include on-demand options, and SugarCRM is also available in a variety of on-demand deployment configurations. However, total cost of ownership, data integration, security, and solution governance remain concerns in the minds of buyers within large organizations with complex requirements.

■        Oracle expands its collection of CRM solutions, but complexity increases. Oracle has a portfolio of strong CRM solutions. Although Oracle E-Business Suite CRM and Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM are losing ground in the market, Oracle Siebel CRM and Oracle CRM On Demand remain leaders. Oracle added another leader to its stable with its acquisition of RightNow Technologies. However, the introduction of Oracle Fusion CRM as well as acquisitions in adjacent spaces such as commerce (ATG) and business intelligence solutions (Endeca) may leave buyers wondering about product road maps. In addition, they may be apprehensive about the level of investment each solution will receive and the technical integration among them.

■        SAP CRM has substantially increased its user base. The SAP CRM customer base has grown significantly in recent years (the company reports more than 7.5 million users), primarily within the large, predominantly B2B, SAP ERP installed base. This is a result of SAP investing for years in its core CRM solution as well as offering new solution packaging, pricing, and implementation options to improve time-to-value. Strong integrations with related SAP solutions such as pricing and order management are attractive to organizations with an “all SAP” strategy. The CRM functionality of SAP Business-All-in-One provides an option for midsized companies. The company also now offers an on-demand CRM solution (SAP Sales On Demand), but functionality is limited to sales force automation.

■        Several vendors benefit from increased BPM interest. Organizations can’t solve all customer interaction management problems with traditional data-centric CRM solutions alone. Rather, they need rules-based and more dynamic business process management (BPM) solutions to orchestrate business processes across organizational silos. As a result, Pegasystems has been enjoying growth with its focus on offering a “platform for customer centricity.” Sword Ciboodle is finding acceptance for supporting complex, customer-interaction-intensive use cases. CDC Software’s Pivotal CRM has gained a place in the market among companies that need highly customized user interfaces (UIs) and strong process management capabilities.

■        Six solutions offer breadth — but not depth — at lower price points. Solutions from FrontRange Solutions, Maximizer Software, NetSuite, Sage CRM, Sage SalesLogix, and Sugar CRM have been traditionally targeted at the midsize and small organization market but sometimes find a home in smaller divisions of large enterprises. These vendors offer a breadth (although not depth) of CRM capability at lower price points than the vendors who are focused chiefly on the needs of large enterprises. Netsuite stands out with its strength in eCommerce capabilities. SugarCRM, with its commercial open source development approach, is increasingly catching the interest of larger organizations in addition to its traditional base of smaller companies and individuals. 


As can be seen by

As can be seen by Salesforce's recent two outages buying the brand in cloud isn't always the way to go. Cloud is allowing innovative companies to compete with larger corporate brands and part of the beauty of SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud is that customers can more easily migrate from one service to another and have freedom of choice.

We have already moved many customers across from Salesforce to our cloud CRM platform making it easy for them to change. With on network architected solutions this change has not always been easy or as cost effective to achieve! Cloud remains a viable and strong option and looking there are far more positive outcomes for clients than negative.”

No CRM is right for everyone! CRM is a business solution not a technology solution. It needs user adoption and use to drive its value to the organisation and to be aligned to the business processes of the business.

With Cloud customers have a great freedom of choice for CRM selection and can often migrate easily across to a new platform if they are not satisfied. Focus needs to be on the outcome to the business, not the CRM brand or the shiny functions promised.

If you look at a variety of customer reports across the years reporting on data from customers of failed CRM projects there is an average of 46.3% of failures reported in surveys. The data varies greatly, likely due to different analysis methodologies.

We are now the only CRM cloud vendor to offer a guaranteed outcome to customers implementing with us. Our guarantee is unrivalled and we challenge other CRM providers to step up and remove the risk for clients.

Ian Moyse

How does social fit into this?

Hi William - congratulations on the Wave. I'm surprised though that none of the factors above include any reference to social CRM, and how this can change requirements? Social is increasingly becoming one of the most important customer engagement channels. In part that opens the door for companies like us at Conversocial specialising in social customer service / social CRM solutions; but it also makes it more and more essential for traditional CRM players to be including social data and integration as part of their core functionality.

Do you think the rise of social will change which CRM systems manage stay leaders? Could it allow smaller players to eventually unseat some of the biggest players who haven't managed to keep up?

CRM software solution

A CRM is a Client Relationship Manager or a Database.

Some companies use the free

Some companies use the free version of the CRM as a way to attract customers and retain existing ones. Free system for non-commercial use - it's good, but for me it is better to use paid versions (regular updates, constant improvement of the system, technical support). You can try the full version of SaaS on quite convenient system, or look for other solutions CRM

I agree. Free options whilst

I agree. Free options whilst sounding nice do not offer the same benefits that paying for CRM does. Paid CRM offers support, training and updates for enterprises.

For particular enterprises existing in the finance industry, such as asset managers, where client information is sensitive it is important to have your information as guarded and secure as possible. Free software may be appealing in age of open source software but it can provide too much of a risk for businesses.

CRM Solutions

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Patricia Hall - Mobile Application Development India

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