CRM Watchlist 2010 - Part I

Summary:Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.Oh, wait, you probably think that I'm talking about which companies to watch in 2010.

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Oh, wait, you probably think that I'm talking about which companies to watch in 2010.  Nah. I already made those decisions.  I'm talking about how to deliver the list.  Should I do it the splitscreen method?  One big post? Several parts?

Well, I've made my decision.  Three parts, over a few days.  Broken out in the following way:

Part 1 - The 4 Majors - that would be Oracle, salesforce.com, SAP, and Microsoft

Part II - The Annual Locks - that would be companies like....RightNow, NetSuite etc. These are companies that are pretty well assured to make it year after year because they think in terms of progress. And they play in the CRM world - now Social CRM.

Part III - The Newbies - Those that didn't make it last year to the main list.  There will be some big surprises here.  BIG surprises. And remember this is a companies to watch list, not a companies to love list. It might be watch for an implosion. Might.

As a guest part of the forecast, we're going to have one or two pundits give me a sentence or two on their take on the companies.  Brent Leary, however, will do his "CRM SMB companies to watch" which may overlap with mine but there may be different opinions.

Additionally, I'll name a "check back in 6 months" list which will be a linked list and no more than that. They are companies that intrigue me but, as far as I'm concerned, are not quite there yet, but are likely to be in 6 months.

As for the companies that dropped off the list from 2009, I'll leave it for you to go back and compare what I said then and where they got in 2009. They are off the list because one way or the other they didn't meet my expectations - though that doesn't mean they did badly. If you want to know why they did (or if you're the vendor, why you did) drop off, feel free to call, tweet, comment here, email me.

This part is on the Big 4.  Why we should be watching them in 2010.  What reasons they are on this list. What to expect.

For gods sakes, PLEASE don't ignore my pleas for two things - a thumbs up or down rating (you see that at the top of this on ZDNet at least) and more importantly, comments including companies I should have included and WHY I should have included them. Who would you include? But give the reasons, not the sales pitch. Please? Please? Pleeeeeeeeease?

Oka,y on to the show here.

These are not being ranked so the order is meaningless.

SAP

2010 is going to be an interesting year for SAP.  As I noted in my SAP Business Influencer's Conference analysis, if they are going to begin to regain some of the market, especially in the on demand and cloud worlds (which they claim a total commitment to), they are going to have to clarify their overall message. Regain might be the wrong word here - gain is more appropriate. They not only must decide what they are going to be to the market, but how they are going to approach their own product/services portfolio. I have some definite differences with the efficacy of the message they seem to be presenting, which you can read in my previous analysis.

But there is much more here than their message. I've seen a release of SAP CRM 7.0 and it is a clear improvement over their first real CRM market asskicker which was SAP CRM 2007.  SAP CRM 7.0 is a very, very good app with a couple of flaws, most notably what I think was (at least when I saw it) badly executed territory management functionality.  However,  the overall CRM 7.0 app is not only strong in traditional sales and customer service functionality (I didn't see the marketing pieces) but also has integrated social channels such as Twitter and Facebook and allows for other channels through customization that is not hard to do.  They also have, gasp of all gasps, a very attractive, user friendly, "even-better-than-the-Google-white-interface-of-SAP-CRM-2007," interface that allows for personalization of the workspace through individualized widget selection and through arrangement of what you want to see and view including feeds and dashboards, or, say, current opportunities that need to be acted on.

But, this is about the company in 2010, not the product. We're going to be reviewing the product among many others in 2010. Watch for an interesting announcement in the 1st quarter about what I mean when I say "we."

Okay, onward and upward.

One area that I (and others) think has served SAP very well and will continue to be a market mover for them is their acquisition of Business Objects.  From a CRM standpoint, there are several products of importance that come from Business Objects.  First is their integration of Twitter with Business Insight, which provides a strong sentiment analysis/text analysis of meaningful Twitter streams and attaches business rules and workflow so that alerts and routing at the enterprise level based on the Twitter sentiment can be done. Second is the use of Business Objects Explorer, which they've made the analytics engine associated with their "in memory model" computing. It does lightning-fast, near-real or real-time calculations (we saw 275 million data rows "figured out" in less than a second) and an actually accomplished on demand product with Business Objects Business Intelligence On Demand.

But for them to regain ground that I think they lost in the CRM world in 2009, they need to figure out who they are fast and make a far better case for their commitment to the cloud and on demand than they have to date- While not strictly a CRM-related effort, their release of Business By Design this year will be critical to their "reinvention." They're already at version 2.5, which they call a "feature pack" not a release. (I guess because it hasn't been released. Duh.) It seems to be fully functional; yet pinning them to an actual release date is a bit of a chore. They have a theoretical 100 customers now, which places them well behind the on-demand curve - at a distance they may never catch up if they don't get down and dirty and take a calculated shot at releasing this elusive product. If they don't, they will suffer cross-enterprise, including CRM, because of their publicly stated commitment to SaaS and the cloud - at least as a hybrid (also Oracle's strategy). And, honestly, I don't know that they will release it, which, at this point, puts them in the "enough but too late" and "I'm still a skeptic" category.

On the CRM side, to their credit, they are following some of the trends they need to. They have a major commitment to mobile. They have a REST API that smacks of mobile technology love. They have an alliance with Sybase and the Sybase iAnywhere platform, which gives them the ability to "translate" content on the mobile fly regardless of operating system. They have a partnership with Syclos that gives them a highly configurable field service mobile app that focuses on asset & service management.  They have their BlackNerry SFA app, which was developed by RIM in a breakthrough collaboration by SAP and released in May 2009, about a year after the initial announcement. In this domain, nothing could be clearer regarding their commitment - and its CRM impact.

2010 for SAP -- at least when it comes to CRM -- is a watershed year.  They have three things they're going to have to do to jump forward.  First, the company has to clarify who they are and commit to that vision and mission. Second, they need a MUCH better marketing and messaging effort around CRM  7.0 despite their apocryphal "someday three letter acronyms will disappear" thrust taken at the SAP Business Influencers Summit. (Yeah, that'll happen soon.) This part of their work has been muddied at best, poorly managed at worst. But CRM 7.0 needs to have top-of-the-class visibility, since it could be a flagship for SAP. Third, they need to release Business By Design, even without a CRM component, so that their commitment to SaaS at least is seen as something serious, because it isn't easy to see at this point.  For our purposes, a CRM 7.0 campaign and release is something that makes or breaks their position in the CRM industry and with customers, in 2010. It's a big year for these guys. They lost ground in 2009 and need to make it up in 2010.

Oracle

The last year has been game changing for Oracle when it comes to Social CRM. While they initiated their effort in 2008, what they called Social CRM then was really more Enterprise 2.0 and sales optimization functionality with their announcement of Sales Prospector, Sales Library and Sales Campaign. The only thing they did that approximated actual Social CRM - meaning it provided a pipe for customer engagement - was the mobile loyalty stuff they did with L'Oreal, which allowed customers to provide and get user-generated content via comments, ratings, rankings etc on the consumer Internet. But in 2009,  their road map and releases were spot on when it comes to the pulse of the public and business -- and were more along what we expect Social CRM technology to be. During OpenWorld 2009, they announced a number of key applications, including one from left field that I personally would never have seen coming.  They announced a toolkit that worked with Siebel customer data (transactional, one must presume) that seemed to be one of the first realized applications using social characteristics - in this case "Connect to someone like me" access for customers using Siebel data.  They aren't the only company using transactional data to figure out and score who is "like me." (SAS in their Customer Intelligence analytics is entirely capable of doing that.) But the fact that they are taking the social customers seriously throughout their entire CRM organization is actually refreshing.

What makes Oracle a no longer so surprising contender for leadership in the Social CRM realm is that their CRM organization is committed to innovation -- and is committed to it from thought leadership (mindshare) to product development and marketing (marketshare).  Is that a company-wide trait? Not to my knowledge; but their CRM team sure gets it.

Top this off with Anthony Lye's selection by CRM Magazine as a key influencer in 2009. Then the cherry? CRM is Oracle's most successful revenue producer in 2009. In the words of Adam Sandler in his Chanukkah song "not too shabby." (look right here with 58 seconds to go.)

What are the pitfalls? Well, there are a couple that can make Oracle "someone less than like me."  First, they have to actually release all these things they are showing and don't do what the Big boys often do, which is endless beta cycles.  Put it on an accelerator program if need be and get it out and iterate, iterate, iterate, with the customers.  Let the customers point out the production flaws. This is an area where SAP does very very well, and Oracle not as well.  I get what their corporative imperatives are, god knows and understand we don't live in a pure world. But there does come a time when the customers need to know you're real, and the social customer is that much more demanding than they were five, six years ago.  Releasing these products and not just endless roadmaps would go a long way to slaking that social customer thirst.

Second, align the cloud messaging coming from Larry Ellison with what the benefits of the cloud to Oracle actually are. His mockery, while ha-ha funny, as you can see from the Churchill Club video, isn't appropriate if Oracle wants to be successful in 2010.  Like every company with deep on premise commitments, no one is going to fault Oracle for a hybrid model. SAP has one too. Microsoft sort of has one.  As Ray Wang, one of the most respected and well liked analysts in the enterprise world recently said on a video interview with Robert Scoble and his Altimeter Group partner, Jeremiah Owyang, "on premise information, that's not gonna go away. But all the edges, best of breed solutions...what you can do to move infrastructure costs, that's moving into the cloud." (BTW, if Ray says it, listen to it BIG TIME)  But Larry needs to realize that regardless of his pronouncements, not only is the cloud here to stay but is of increasing interest to many of his major customers.  I'm not speaking of the CRM group here. They are down with that already.

In 2010, then,  they have to deliver their roadmap and kick up their efforts in the cloud to maintain a leading position in CRM.

I'm just sayin'.

salesforce.com

What can you say about these guys? They've understood from the get go that consumer thinking actually has been driving business for years. In fact, as far back as 2002, now Zuora CEO and then CSO of salesforce.com, Tien Tzuo, told me that (How many times have I recounted this story? My favorite anecdote I guess). Their current product iterations - their so-called 4 clouds - Service Cloud 2, Sales Cloud 2, Custom Cloud 2 and Chatter are indicators of that very approach as is Marc Benioff's announcement of that very premise on the stage of Dreamforce 2009.

Think about something. If you look at the social vendors - the Radian6's of the world, Jive, InsideView, etc. the first CRM related company they integrate with - their test runs so to speak - are all with salesforce.com. These aren't insane decisions. They are calculated for many reasons - the compatible technical architecture is of course part of it, though not all of it. Remember Apex is a proprietary language.  But its also the compatible culture, the AppExchange, the stage salesforce.com is willing to give selected partners, and the aura and mystique (take THAT Curt Schilling) that salesforce.com provides them - sex appeal is probably the best term. Integrating with salesforce.com is hot (that is so bad a way to put it at SO many levels).  I mean, salesforce.com is one of the "Big 4" in everyone's books with about 1/30th the revenues of any of the others. Their run rate is $1.3 billion as of Dreamforce.   Doesn't that tell you something?

Salesforce.com continues to do two things incredibly well - innovate and market. While the marketing doesn't actually reflect the quality of the innovation, it does get them noticed. However, its their innovation that shines. Yet they are a very conservatively and well run company so they combine sound business practices, with a culture geared toward innovation (not a combination that lives together that easily, usually) and probably the best marketing CEO in the world - Marc Benioff, named recently San Francisco Executive of the Year by the San Francisco Business Times - another of his multiple awards. Salesforce.com also swept all three of the major CRM Market Leader Awards given by CRM Magazine this year - first time that ever happened.

Additionally, salesforce.com has made inroads into areas that they aren't traditionally in and will prove I think to be quite formidable.  Public Sector is among them. Their Force.com platform - especially Ideaforce and Visualforce were used by the Administration to do several things including the Obama Transition team CItizen Briefing Book.

Yet, they have a few things they need to think about too this year. Nobody gets away free. Sorry, SFDC.

First, a clarification. Salesforce.com's marketing claim is that Sales Cloud 2, Service Cloud 2, Custom Cloud 2 and Chatter are "clouds." They are not. They are cloud apps or cloud services. Custom Cloud 2 can have the case made that its Platform as a Service (PaaS) - a component of the cloud. But the cloud per se includes a platform, infrastructure, storage, SaaS delivery etc.

Now onwards.  There are several things that are noteworthy about Chatter, which is their highly trumpeted "Facebook and Twitter-driven social toolset released at Dreamforce 2009.

  1. It is a serious attempt by salesforce.com to provide a complete social toolset and in conjunction with its nicely enhanced sales product (Sales Cloud 2), customer service product (Service Cloud 2) and dramatically enhanced customization capabilities (Custom Cloud 2), it is a foray that begins to establish them as a complete Social CRM player minus a component or two - notably reasonable native marketing functionality - which puts them in the camp currently of only Oracle, making the same attempt from the CRM side of the house.
  2. Chatter's only original piece is the fact that you can subscribe to data objects - anyone in any system you have - even, say SAP or Microsoft.  The problem now is the lack of filters which means nearly an all or none subscription to all events around that data object. Diminishes the value. The rest of Chatter I've seen elsewhere, often better executed, but never as aggregated as this - and what's there is good enough.

The reason I emphasize Chatter is that salesforce.com seems to be banking a lot of 2010 on the success of this particular piece of the platform - which I wouldn't.  As a standalone, it doesn't impress at all - at $50 a head its expensive and not worthy. As a layer inside of force.com this becomes impressive and a significant addition to the platform worth examining.

How salesforce.com treats this in 2010 is going to be important because its threats are not only from SAP and Oracle and maybe Microsoft (from Azure) but also from the dozens of social vendors who are not only integrating with salesforce.com but claiming a Social CRM mantle which they may or may not deserve. The small guys nipping at their heels are good enough to take some chunks out of the salesforce.com ankle this year unless salesforce.com stays innovative, concentrates itself on some new market places like public sector where they can have a competitive impact, stays the course when it comes to their 2002 plan of being the "business web" as they called it then and, finally, positions Chatter where it belongs - inside force.com.

Or else salesforce.com might be calling someone else their daddy. They are in a great, great position. They control their own destiny. But we see how that can succeed for example in baseball (NY Yankees) or fail, can't we?

Microsoft

Every year I have to start out by saying the same thing. I'm a fan of Microsoft, but.... Sadly, my projection for 2010 is something of the same.

I continue to be perplexed by these guys. On the one hand they do great things that are significant in the Social CRM pantheon of things - such as integrate in the public sector with Neighborhood America (now INgage Networks) to create the Public Idea Bank, integrate MSFT Surface with SAP apps, and give Ray Ozzie the right resources and lab to do "social experimenting." Additionally, they are a remarkably innovative company despite their public image of stolid and "old," with amazing projects in the works like Bing Maps, Microsoft Vine, Project Natal and, of course their strong Microsoft Azure Cloud platform.

They have the best partner ecosystem in the world and the most complete, smart partner program I've ever seen - bar none.

Their Microsoft Dynamics CRM applications are strong when it comes to SFA, and customer service, and they've made them operationally effective. They're working on mobile, though I still am not and never have been a big fan of Windows Mobile as a platform. They've even managed to show that Dynamics CRM is a surprisingly effective and extensible platform, not just a product suite. (Nikhil Hasija had me as a judge on a competition to watch about 6-7 partners build an effective CRM app using Dynamics CRM in 5 days. They all did it, to varying degrees of success. But they all did succeed.)  They've priced the Live versions of Dynamics CRM (which they stupidly still insist on calling software plus services) at better than competitive pricing against their "opposition, by nearly halving the price.

They have a great PR person in Amy Adamsak, from Waggoner Edstrom who is smart and knows how to stay in touch with the analysts, etc. she has to.  No slouch, she.

YET - and there ALWAYS is a YET - they are just not that innovative when it comes to CRM and they need to be when all three of their chief rivals, whatever their flaws, are.  They have no visible social presence beyond Neighborhood America. No presence beyond that in all sectors is a serious mistake.

Even when they are innovative, they don't pursue the opportunities that they have, For example, I sat on the Board of Advisors with Surface - their multipoint touchscreen display or with their Dynamics CRM Live. It could have been a market maker.  It wasn't though it still remains a great piece of technology. This isn't to single out Surface, just a flaw in how Microsoft as a company pursues things. Things die as quickly as they live as far as visibility goes. Opportunities come, and the ball is dropped. The perception in the market of them is at best stolid and so so.  They even frustrate their fanboys - among them me.

MSFT is expected to both be a market leader and an innovator, and to be perceived as a market leader and an innovator too, not a follower, But outside of public sector constituent engagement, I'm hard pressed to find the innovation in CRM. Their product is fine, except for marketing which is actually starting to be weaker than the pack, not in the pack since most CRM companies with supposed suites are moving forward to strengthen the social marketing at least, if not the more traditional campaign management functionality.

Given that innovation is part of everyone's 2010 mantra, Microsoft needs to step up this year.  I'm tired of "YET, YET, YET" when it comes to speaking of them.

Honestly, I don't care which of the myriad of companies wins the competitive wars. I couldn't care less if SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, salesforce.com, NetSuite, RightNow, whoever, takes "the lead." What I want is for all to succeed because I want businesses to be profitable and customers to be happy and the social fabric to be right. There is room for all the companies to get a sufficient piece of the pie to do that. I don't want losers, I want winners.  In the case of Microsoft, that means innovation, up front, 2010.  Step it up so I don't have to say "YET" again in 2011.

Okay, that's it for this part. Next part are the next tier of CRM focused companies. Then comes the social and other companies moving into the Social CRM space.  We have a guest post coming sometime soon too, with Brent Leary looking at the SMB Social CRM Players (no, not the Playaz. That's him and me.).

Topics: SAP, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Oracle, Software

About

In addition to being the author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light: Social CRM Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers Paul Greenberg is President of The 56 Group, LLC, a customer strategy consulting firm, focused on cutting edge CRM strategic services and a founding partner of the CRM training company, BP... Full Bio

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