Back in January, as I released the CRM Watchlist 2012, I promised that I would review a group of companies that didn’t make the Watchlist but were worth looking at a.k.a. watching again in 6 months to see where what they had been doing in that period that merited their possible inclusion on the CRM Watchlist for 2012. It would be the CRM Watchlist 2012½, so to speak.
Well, unlike other years, I’ve done that, though of course, true to my usual approach on the things I do (except for client work, Paul adds, nervously), late again. So 8 months after, here’s the progress report and m review of the potential final inclusions on the CRM Watchlist for 2012.
The Progress Report
What I said - The only thing about Acquia that kept them out of the winners circle was their lack of presence in the enterprise world. They are a player and a company to keep your eye on but they have not had the visibility that many of the winners have had in the Fortune 3500 and in the CRM market that winners on the list have had. If they take the next six months and get more visible, they might be a shoo-in.
What they did - pretty much nothing has been done over the last eight months to change this. They have no more market presence or visibility than they had at the time of the original writing. There have been no apparent changes in their marketing strategy or their messaging or their general approach. They still do great work but they remain low profile in the world that matters to the Watchlist – the business world that uses technology.
Decision – No go. Sadly, an easy decision.
What I said - This one was somewhat painful, because they had emerged over the last couple of years as major impact players. They don't make it to the winners circle just yet because they are internally reorganizing in a way that, without going into details, both makes a lot of sense for their business model and at the same time explains why they regressed somewhat in 2011. The key to their re-emergence in 2012 is a. the completion of the reorganization and b. even as they move to finalize the institutional changes over the next six months, an escalation of their participation in the market beyond just their always sterling thought leadership guy Prem Kumar.
What they did – This one is interesting. They completed the reorganization which led to a significant transformation in how they do business. For example, they have a new social business practice led by a truly “he gets it” guy in Dileep Srinivasan. As a company they recently became the second largest consulting organization in India, though they are actually headquartered in the U.S. They have a robust CRM practice led by Peter Gramms and there are some interesting and positive signs. But that’s “Wired.” What’s “Tired” (this is all Wired Magazine references), is that their visibility except for showing up at industry events is still lagging. There is little thought leadership content coming from them though Prem Kumar still provides thought leadership activity in the Social CRM side. But they are lagging behind Accenture, Ernst and Young Advisory, even Deloitte, in providing the kind of thought leadership necessary to spark mindshare in social business, Social CRM or even enterprise technology generally. So they are a bit of a conundrum. Ultimately, it’s really for them a matter of time, not intent or even thinking. 2013 here they come.
Decision – Reluctantly, no go. But I think, if they apply for next year, they will have had the time to do something to make it work. But they will need to show the mindshare work they did. Thought leadership and market presence via content is critical for them.
What I said - Again, this is a company that placed second in CRM Idol 2011 and at the same time the CEO Sanjay Dholakia is known well by the influencers and the community at large. They need to do two things in the next 6 mos to really shore up their presence. First, be considerably more aggressive about providing thought leadership around social marketing. Second, close a big deal or two so that their sticking power is more than just likely, its definite.
What they did - They went and got acquired by Marketo. As a result of the acquisition, CEO of Crowd Factory, Sanjay Dholakia, became the CMO of Marketo. That’s a strong move for Marketo, simply because Sanjay is really good at that. Marketo has also integrated the Crowd Factory social marketing capabilities into their suite pretty seamlessly. All in all a smooth and smart move.
Decision – Moot. Once they were acquired they were out of the running.
What I said - I'm just simply undecided about these guys. They have a strong set of practices and frameworks to provide to their clients; they do market research that ranges from adequate to very good; they have been on a small company acquisition tear grabbing such collaboration and social business thought leaders like Susan Scrupski and Dion Hinchcliffe in the process; they have a clear mission around social business; but, truthfully, I just don't feel totally right about including them without a deeper investigation into their culture and their actual toolsets. They seem to be halfway between a consultancy and a solutions group and I need to resolve that. I don't think they were even aware of their finalist status in this award so they needless to say didn't volunteer any information. So I think I just need more time to get comfortable and see if they have the culture they need to be the kind of true impact player they can. They sure have the thought leadership. But I need to know more than that. I can't write them off, but in good conscience, they haven't shown me what I need either.
What they did – They continued to transform more and more to a social business solutions company or an even better way of putting it, a tools company and less and less a consulting company in the sense that we know it. They still have the advantage of Susan Scrupski and Dion Hinchcliffe, but they lost Peter Kim, which for them is a huge loss.
As far as their transformation goes, there’s nothing in it that inherently omits them as a winner in the CRM Watchlist, so that is less of a factor than the transition itself. But this is an impact award and companies in transition need to find themselves. With the exception of Susan and Dion, and with the leaving of Peter Kim, this is a company that is losing what had been at least something of a thought leadership position, not because they did anything bad, but because they are transitioning and went somewhat silent in terms of public presence. They still have their social business summits each year and Dion in particular puts out extraordinary and deeply substantial tomes on a wide range of subjects that cover the gamut of social business (e.g. Social CRM). But they have as of now, been unable to clarify their model and who they are exactly, and since they don’t owe me any explanation and thus haven’t given me any or reached out in any way, nor do I expect them to, I can only go from what I see and from what other influencers see.
Decision – No go. They need to either figure out who they and “complete” the transition or they need to convince me I’m wrong. Being wrong is a possibility for sure, them trying to convince me, less of one. Since the rules next year REQUIRE a questionnaire filled out rather than me just covering a company, we’ll see if they even care.
What I said - It’s hard not to put a $100 billion company as a guaranteed winner, but they have lagged on CRM for many years. They have a CRM practice on the Consulting Services side that is active, but tends to the traditional. Their biggest problem is that they are so big that they don't coordinate their programs or messaging very well and it's a bit of a mess to figure out, when it comes to CRM where they are really at. But they have an opportunity. The markers for the next six months for me are the SugarCRM/IBM alliance's success; the coordination of messaging around CRM - e.g. taking their invaluable asset - the Institute for Business Value and its research such as the often quoted "From Social Media to Social CRM" and showing how this is being practically applied at IBM. Third a coordinated thought leadership effort (not fragmented departmental) around CRM and Social CRM that goes beyond just their transition to a social business. Fourth, CRM case studies that show success in both traditional and innovative ways. Do all that, and IBM wins. But they have to do that. They are too big not to.
What they did – The SugarCRM moves have been significant enough to position IBM much better, though still far from perfectly, as a player in the CRM space. Aside from IBM embracing Sugar in a go-to-market bear hug, they put their money and IT where their mouth was by replacing their 67,000+ Siebel seats with SugarCRM instead.
But was this enough? Not really. That’s great for SugarCRM and certainly cements them even more as the winner they were for 2012, but IBM is a HUGE company that has to show up on the CRM(ish) stage in a HUGE way – and in the last six months it hasn’t beyond its SugarCRM moves. It has other pieces in the technology puzzle like Unica, Coremetrix and SPSS but it still hasn’t done much about presenting an IBM colored ecosystem to the world, which it should have done with SugarCRM at the center.
They also haven’t done much around thought leadership beyond the Institute for Business Value effort of last year. So….
Decision - No go. But they have a real shot at the 2013 Watchlist Awards, if they apply.
What I said - This might have been the toughest of all since they are powerful thought leaders in the sales intelligence market and have made an impact over the last few years to the point that Gartner said in their Social CRM Magic Quadrant for 2011 that they had a disproportionate amount of thought leadership given their size. But that is also their burden. The reason I'm waiting and seeing is that I think that they can do considerably better in the area of thought leadership but the expectations are much higher now that they are the leaders. Their technology is solid as a rock. I recommend it when asked. But while, of course, expectations are sky high for them, they seem (to me, at least) to be coasting on what they've already done without much in the way of a true vision. So more thinking around their vision and its reflection in their products and in the marketplace is in order. I don't doubt their ability to do this, but I need to see it in 2012. There is powerful competition on the horizon.
What they did – No substantial change and they also lost their analyst relations guy to LinkedIn. I don’t see any real escalation in their presence or thinking though they are visible and working hard. They have one hell of an archive of thought leadership assets and routinely turn out materials including ebooks, etc. But as I said, the competition is coming and not directly through the sales intelligence world. Companies like Watchlist winner Coveo are entering a broader world with highly flexible products that can target sales intelligence and others like the fast rising Lattice Engines have good sales intelligence engines but do so much more than that. So the time for InsideView to act is now in both the evolution of its product and refreshing their approach to thought leadership with more creative assets.
Decision – No go. But I have faith for 2013. This is a resilient, smart company and if they are part of the 2013 Watchlist they truly have a good shot at getting back on the winner’s stand.
What I said - They were in the forefront in 2010 of social CRM technology with one of the first true, "meets the test" SCRM technologies. They went gangbusters that year in making sure that analysts were briefed, the market knew about their product and that they were able to provide actual case studies and use cases for what they were doing.
But 2011 was a different story. They simply slowed up though they did keep some of the analysts briefed, their visibility was dramatically reduced. Part of that is due to the bankruptcy of soon to be former parent company CDC. They will be spending the next few months making the transition back to an independent company which is one of the reasons that I need to wait and see. I have faith in them, no doubt about that. But it’s not that easy a road.
What they did – They went and got reacquired. They are now part of Aptean which seems to be a merger between Consona and CDC Software, which is the company that went bankrupt and divested itself of Pivotal early this year. So if I am reading what seem to be the entrails of a goat (no actual goat was hurt in the production of this sentence) as far as being able to divine a future, Pivotal is now part of a company that is a combined version of the company that dumped them and someone else. Luckily, they continue to have a good product and have made great progress with their cloud offerings and their Social CRM offering among others, so some clarity still reigns with this fine organization (Pivotal). However, we will have to see how this all sorts itself out.
Decision – No go. It was a wait-and-see the first time and back then I mentioned that I have faith. Reality is that it’s exactly the same. Now that they have been acquired again, while I continue with my faith in this company, the new management puts them in my “wait-and-see” category again. Which I will do.
What I said - This is another one of those "should I have or shouldn't I have?" They develop highly scalable, complex (sometimes complicated) but powerful products. Their customer intelligence group is excellent. They are making some inroads via the work of Angela Lipscomb and Wilson Raj into the influencer relations world that would have been unthinkable there about 2 years ago. They are financially solid. They are as always one of the best (in 2011, THE best) place to work in North America according to Fortune magazine. So why here? In the next six months, they have three things they need to do.
- Show the world that saying that customer intelligence is the third most important of their global initiatives is more than a statement;
- Show that they can make the improvements that Wilson Raj was brought in to make re: influencer relations and external thought leadership. They're off to a really good start with this.
- Show a unified vision that indicates that all layers of the company are on board with what they are practicing. To be a little less vague, but not detailed, there is a disconnect between the actual investment they are making in the cloud and some of their public posture about the cloud. They need to fix it.
What they did – While SAS has continued to make slow progress with influencer relations and continues to significant market presence in many areas unrelated to customer intelligence, the rest of the items on the list just haven’t materialized. They haven’t provided the unified vision that I mentioned 8 months ago, which is part of an inverse world of “preach what you practice.” They haven’t done much that proves to the world that customer intelligence is one of their most significant initiatives. What they have done is to extend their visibility among influencers that aren’t just the institutional norms like Gartner and Forrester – though in a small way. While meaningful, it just isn’t enough. They need to start devoting at least the same level of resources all in all or if by some chance they actually have them, applying those resources, in ways that are at least the equivalent of what their competitors are doing. They do not reach that level. Not even close yet. They have great personnel, but not the corporate understanding or commitment.
Decision – No go. They have “miles to go before (they) sleep.” (Thank you, Robert Frost)
What I said - Xactly is a smart company without a doubt and they are in an area that they are the leading company too - sales compensation management. But that said, they haven't done the kind of job with analyst/influencer relations and thought leadership that gives me confidence that they can provide the kind of impact in 2012 that winning this demands. They have done it so far on the on the basis of a great technology stack that truly defines how the rest of the technology providers in their area need to be measuring up. But that's also the problem. Their area isn't that big yet and what I need to see in the next six months is that they create the foundation to sustain their impact once someone who truly competes with them comes along. Because there is no doubt that someone will. There always is.
What they did – In the last six months (or 8 months really) what they have done is win some significant customer deals, partner with Intuit and thus integrate with Quickbooks and improve their product. All good. But not what I was looking for when it comes to impact. They’ve done a good job on the analyst/influencer relations with me, but I don’t hear of them that much beyond me and couple of others. But it’s hard to deny that, of all the companies I’ve mentioned in the six months review group, they’ve made the most progress.
Decision – It was tough, but no go. I think they have a great shot at 2013 if they choose to participate. But this isn’t an easy award so in 2012, they still are short of what I wanted to see.
What I said - In the last couple of months, Zoho redesigned their CRM offering and provided something that is nearly complete for a small business - and explicitly designed that way. They reached the 25,000 customer (not users) level; they are holding their first ever User Conference at the end of March (I'm keynoting it) and they are re-emerging in the market around expanding their presence and even providing some thought leadership down the road. But the key for why I need six months - it’s that "re" in front of several of their efforts. They also have tempered some of their former outbursts which is very important to their growth, now that they play. So, for the next six months, let's see if the "re" part is in front of the alization that they are a player to stay.
What they did – The most significant thing that I’ve seen from Zoho over the last six months is a product release – campaign management that puts them into head to head competition with small business market beast Infusionsoft. But they have done little to expand their thought leadership and market reach enough to take them to the next level. Raju Vegesna is still out there on the stump doing his usual great job of maintaining Zoho’s visibility but the expansion necessary hasn’t been there.
Decision – No go. Maybe for the 2013 awards. Lets see what they do.
Sorry to say not a single one made it this year, though several made enough progress to see good things for them in 2013. That said, the market is clearly accelerating, what it takes to make an impact is increasingly difficult, given the growth of the CRM (which is SCRM + traditional CRM) market and the messages are always changing (customer experience anyone – party like its 2001! But also 2012. Future post.) and customers are sculpting the landscape. None of the companies that I covered made me completely comfortable, though I should shout out to Xactly and Cognizant for making the most progress and of the ones on the 6 months list, have the best shot at 2013.
The 2013 CRM Watchlist
Remember, for those of you who want to participate in the CRM Watchlist competition for 2013, please send me an email requesting the registration form at email@example.com. Once you return the registration form, you’ll get the questionnaire and the CRM Watchlist 2012 Yearbook, which, besides 110 pages of CRM Watchlist 2012 winner goodness, has the 2013 rules too. Unlike many of the awards like this, there is NO charge at all. This is free. We have over 100 companies as of now with the questionnaire. I’d love to have you on board. Size of company doesn’t matter here. The questionnaire is due in November 30, 2012.
Take your shot.
See ya later.