CRM Software Reviews & Industry Leader Opinions
We'll skip the marketing hype and common benefits provided by the majority of solutions in order to focus on a few of the differentiation points and uniqueness of the major player solutions.
Small Business CRM Software Leaders
- MS CRM. We must admit we get quite a bit of feedback suggesting that MS CRM is not a true SAAS solution - and fails to deliver several significant SAAS benefits. While we don't necessarily dispute those arguments (and we've heard the 'lipstick on a pig' phrase more times than we care to), we do recognize that this product is now (sort of) thin-client based, offered with subscription pricing and optionally delivered in a hosted model. We also recognize this product is earning significant market share among small business clients. For those people where integration to Outlook or support from MS weights higher than normal SFA requirements, this solution should be considered.
- NetSuite. NetSuite's uniqueness is clearly its SAAS accounting software. The company's origin stems from an accounting solution (hence why the company name was NetLedger before it was NetSuite) and it is our firm opinion that the accounting software is NetSuite's strength. It's also been our clear experience that NetSuite often refuses to participate in CRM software sale opportunities unless the prospect is also looking for financial software. If you are looking for a front office and back office integrated solution, put NetSuite on your short list. If you're only looking for CRM software, this solution may not compete nearly as well.
- Oracle On Demand. Formerly called Siebel On Demand, this solution was inherited as part of the Siebel acquisition. It's significance to Oracle has always been questioned - and those questions remain very alive to many today. Nonetheless, the CRM product has a good small business market penetration and is moving up the ladder to the midmarket. We don't believe the product will ever dominate the middle or enterprise markets as it would then cannibalize the software publishers flagship solutions. If sales force automation (SFA) is your driving criteria, put this solution on your short list.
- Salesforce.com. This solution is the poster child for software as a service CRM software. While we don't believe the CRM product itself is particularly superior to any other on this list, the company is making their mark with an integrated suite of add-on solutions. The concept is great, however, the reality far less clear. Hooking up and integrating multiple vendor business applications has been around for over two decades - and has never lived up to the promises of "seamless" integration, straightforward upgrades and vendor accountability when it comes to software troubleshooting. Nonetheless, if you're focused on SFA and looking for a variety of difficult to find third party applications, you need to put this vendor on your short list.
Middle Market CRM Software Leaders
- Aplicor. This company's uniqueness is its fit with middle market and enterprise organizations looking for software depth, functionality and customization. Along with NetSuite, Aplicor offers an integrated back office accounting and ERP system. While the company's lack of marketing aggressiveness holds it back from gaining the name recognition of its competitors, it does have some of the SAAS industry's largest reference accounts and should be on the short list for any organization looking for ease of use, business process automation and simple software customization.
- Oracle On Demand. While our primary opinion is reflected above in the small business CRM section, we do see some success with this solution among midmarket organizations. Although the typical customer size for this vendor is much smaller than either Aplicor or RightNow, the solution is making some upstream inroads and should be considered by midmarket prospects looking for basic SFA, and not so concerned about marketing or customer support.
- RightNow. This solution is of course known for its Customer Service capabilities. As with MS CRM, we've received feedback that this product is not really a SAAS product. The current version 8 does require a 15 megabyte client download and only operates as a smart client. While we personally note the lack of thin-client operation and believe this defeats many of the most significant SaaS benefits such as simplified upgrades, maintenance, access from anywhere/any PC and the like, we still choose to note them as a market share leader. While this product's SFA and marketing modules have never made it to prime time, put this vendor on your short list if your software selection is most weighted toward customer support.
- Salesforce.com. See prior small business CRM comments.
Enterprise Market CRM Software Leaders
- Aplicor. Inside the CRM industry, Aplicor's CRM solution (and to a lesser extent is ERP solution) enjoys a positive reputation. Unfortunately for them, many outside the industry are not aware of their solution or their penetration in the Fortune 1000 space. Organizations just looking for contact management will likely find Aplicor too much for their needs. However, organizations with more strategic CRM objectives and desirous of more flexible and customizable software should consider this vendor for their enterprise needs.
- Rightnow. Similar to Aplicor, RightNow touts many successful enterprise organizations as clients. However, as we pointed out in the prior commentary, this solutions's strength is clearly customer support and self service applications. Even though the vendor acquired an SFA solution (SalesNet) and continues to try to upgrade this portion of their CRM solution, the SFA capabilities do not compare with the other solutions in this space.
- Salesforce.com. While many inside the industry like to point out that this solution is oriented toward small business (and we agree), we also have to note that this vendor has a few of the largest SAAS customer accounts in the industry. We suspect it may be true that those larger accounts are utilizing little more than basic SFA, and sometimes little more than contact management, often times as a consequence of a previously failed enterprise CRM implementation. Nonetheless, this solution should at least be initially considered by larger organizations looking for SAAS CRM.
- SAP. Although a giant in the client/server business applications software market, SAP is still a new-comer to the SAAS CRM industry. We're quite frankly unsure as to whether this CRM solution will stand alone and begin to attract increased hosted market share or whether this solution is really a teaser and segway to the vendor's legacy client/server systems. Only time will tell on this one. If you already use SAP as your ERP software solution, you must at least consider them for your CRM SAAS needs.