Recapping the Past Week Okay, last week, I launched the CRM Watchlist for 2011. The first two posts (of six) were published. If you haven't read them, please do. There is something of a method to the madness so it would be kind of important to read at least the first one to understand how I choose a company for Watchlist goodness.
Here they are:
What I'm going to give you here are the names of companies that aren't the full service suite providers or even long time veterans of the CRM market but those that tend to specialize in a particular one of the pillars one way or the other. That means, since this is a CRM Watchlist, you will NOT see pure play social media companies here (though in a later post you'll see the social media and community platforms that have taken CRM integration seriously. They count in this.) What you will see is companies that provide technologies for enabling marketing, customer service and sales.
I'd particularly take a look at the customer service category, primarily because customer service is what drives Social CRM, unlike its traditional cousin, CRM, which was driven by sales.
So, congratulations to the winners here!! This had a lot of competition. It was not easy to make particularly this segment. So even when I'm covering their weaknesses as well as their strengths, to be on this means that at least to me, these companies are the important ones or will be in their areas in 2011. Marketing This is a funny category. There is this constant debate and discussion over who should own the CRM initiatives at a company - which has been magnified by the discussion around Social CRM. Typically, the answer you get, when you get an answer is "the marketing department" or the champion should be the "CMO." Yet, when it comes to technology enablement, marketing has been easily the most under-served of the CRM pillars, with no clear thought leader in the category. Not only is no one grabbing mindshare but the suite providers, with the new exception of Oracle, have been notoriously lax in providing marketing functionality worthy of the name....uh...marketing....functionality.
That said, there are some players in the marketing space worth paying serious attention to - which is why they made the Watchlist for 2011 (duh!). This is a make or break year for most of them, because the category is emerging at the same time social marketing is creating a whole new set of challenges that traditional marketing automation or enterprise marketing management firms have yet to rise to. That said, the social marketing boys and girls need to play with their older siblings or they'll lose out completely.
Okay, he says, rubbing his palms together, who we got? Lessee.
A year ago, Marketo didn't make the watchlist, though they did make the 3 month follow-up. Know why? A year ago they existed and even were doing pretty well, but they didn't fully have their act together. Their target market was unclear, a couple of their integration choices a mild head scratch (this was the headline that tells it all -
"Marketo Integration With Salesforce for Twitter Unifies Social Media, Lead Nurturing and Lead-Scoring; Integration With Helpstream's Social CRM Suite Informs Marketing Activities With Insight from Social Networking Sites"
To be fair, I loved Helpstream too but they went out of business this year. The "salesforce for Twitter" was definitely the reason I had nail marks on my bald spot.
Even so, Marketo had a quality product. They also had a strong management team with an excellent CEO in Phil Fernandez and some strong supporting cast that had loads of experience at customer interaction application company E.piphany (now part of Infor) in this space. So it was only a matter of time 'til they grew up and emerged as a player.
To do that over the last 12 months, they needed to strengthen two things to varying degrees:
They did both.
For example, they've gone WAY beyond a "Twitter integration" with salesforce and are perhaps more tightly integrated with them than any other marketing application out there. Not perhaps. They are. A smart move, given the penetration that salesforce continues to gain.
One of those integrations is a force.com native application that Marketo calls Sales Insight - that is actually a sales collaboration tool, somewhat on the order of Oracle Social CRM tools. What's interesting is that it provides an integrated sales and marketing traditional functionality with social functions. So as a sales rep, you can run a marketing campaign, track the behaviors of the recipients, generate leads via varying customizable criteria, score the leads according to the behaviors, make decisions on your interactions based on these campaign induced behaviors AND then be updated as to changes. Because the platform was force.com, you not only have this fully integrated into Sales Cloud 2 but the customer activity is delivered as a Chatter feed.
They also currently integrate with via partner connectors with NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle/Siebel on premise and on demand, SugarCRM, SAP, etc.
They've nailed it this time, for the most part. I'm not sure of their branding - calling themselves a Revenue Management Performance company - a category that seems to be their creation. They may be just that, but people looking for marketing functionality don't tend to click on "revenue performance management" tags to find it.
For 2011, their task, should they accept it, as a newly minted Watchlist company, is to strengthen their thought leadership and increase their market impact. They are making money, they are well funded, so they have no excuse. 2011 can be their year.
Eloqua may be my most enigmatic choice for the Watchlist, yet they are a repeat winner (check out some of the functionality at this link to last year's Watchlist) who does belong on it. But when it comes to Eloqua, 2011 is truly my "lets see how they do" year. I'm a little warier than I was last year.
When it comes to marketing applications Eloqua is the 300 pound gorilla of the standalones, which is the closest to 800 pounds any standalone marketing solution gets at this time. They are a SaaS based deeply functional marketing automation solution that is slowly incorporating social marketing functionality, but still makes their bones by providing strong traditional marketing automation. They have a primo customer list with some sex appeal - strong showings in financial services (NOT the sexy ones); a huge vertical in high tech - especially software companies (a little sexier) and, super hot, breathing hard sexy - several NBA squads and even a National Hockey League team or two. An Eloqua integration with salesforce.com been used by two clients/friends of mine - the Philadelphia Flyers and the leading progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress (which is oddly listed as "consulting" I guess for lack of a category on the Eloqua website) with enormously creative value and clear results - an endorsement if I ever saw one with my own eyes.
So where do I have concerns? In two areas.
One the usual - thought leadership. Again, this is an area that a company like Eloqua, being a leader in the marketing applications space, could have seized and, like all their brethren out there, didn't. Mindshare is still not owned in this underserved domain. Eloqua deserves more than its share of the blame because they have a small chunk of marketshare in their part of the industry and were positioned in 2010 to do something about it and they didn't.
Second, without a lot of details - I have some concerns about their partner program that to me exhibits some inconsistencies. I've been told that this is going to change dramatically in 2011. Since I happen to like Eloqua and particularly like their CEO Joe Payne, I'm hoping for the best in this area. To me, a current weak spot that can be corrected. I'll hopefully be reporting the changes to you this year some time soon.
All my concerns stated, there is no question of the quality of the application and Eloqua's chance to extend its position in the market in 2011. Even with others like Marketo breathing down their necks, they have a serious chance of grabbing more market and some mind...share this year. But they need to act quickly, fix what they have to fix and continue to build according to the demands of customers out there. Not theircustomers. The customers they don't have yet.
Infusionsoft has always had four things going for it - even though they didn't make the list last year.
As a result, in 2010, their revenue was very healthy - lets just say, they can afford to do a few things and are no longer dependent as they have been in the past on VC money, though certainly don't dislike it. This comes because of 6000 customers and 20,000 users - which, for a company laser targeted in the small business space, is a great place to be.
What makes them particularly worth watching in 2011 is that small businesses are getting increasingly interested in using more sophisticated applications to enable their customer activities - and their operations. Infusionsoft's product offers them all the traditional functionality when it comes to marketing and sort of, um, personal information management e.g. integrated customer records (which they call integrated CRM) etc. They have Outlook integration which in the small business world makes total sense at this point especially since that's still the contact management choice for most small businesses. They have a strong focus on email management - a wise decision again for small business.
I do have a few concerns though. First, their lack of integration with any small business sales functionality beyond the almost nothing that Outlook provides. They position themselves against salesforce.com (and Constant Contact) - sort of unfairly since salesforce.com doesn't provide marketing functionality. They integrate with something called Quick Sales System - a lead capture system that I never heard of so can't speak to - and provide perfunctory sales functionality they call "Opportunity Management." Honestly, they'd be better off just integrating with salesforce.com or if they don't want do that, integrate with something like Avidian's Prophet, a very capable Outlook-integrated SFA system. Their product strategy at least here is kind of odd.
My other concern is that there is no effort that I'm aware of to integrate any social features into the applications. While I understand that small business is behind the curve on the usage of social channels, they are not oblivious to it -and, as we chug along (not a-lug) into 2011, social channels are mainstream communications media that can't be ignored. I'm trusting that with the addition of Richard Tripp as VP of Product Management, from Intuit, they will at least consider dealing with this at a product level.
Beyond that, this is a company I'm actually happy to put on the list this year. SMB has been under represented by me - not Brent who is THE Jedi of SMB CRM - and who shall be on these pages with his "Ish" choices in just a few days. But from my standpoint, this is well deserved.
Jitterjam came out of the blue to make the list this year. They weren't even on my radar in January 2010 but came my way due to the Social CRM Accidental Community's rather positive discussion about them a bit before midyear (Thanks SC-AC). When they got wind of my interest, they sent me note with a playful kinda wise ass approach which as a New Yorker I appreciate. Irony and sarcasm are my red-meat substitute. The real thing kills my stomach. Irony and satire feed my soul - so I appreciated it, though given other things, it might not be the best way to approach a lot of the analyst community.
That said, that may get you appreciated but doesn't get you to be a candidate nor does it get you to inclusion on this list. But they have a lot more than that. Despite their apparently breezy approach, or in alignment with it, they have a social marketing product portfolio that genuinely shows both thought behind it and apparently, delivers on what it provides. Here's a straightforward feature list, ripped from the headlines - oh wait, that's Law and Order. This is ripped straight from the Jitterjam website - the descriptions are theirs, not mine except for the Jitterjame Extensions. The reason I'm running this is that this is what social marketing needs to look like.
They have an interesting pricing model for their apps. There is a monthly subscription (not so interesting) that has an annual rate which gets you 15% discount (boring). Its for a combination of social searches (monitoring), outbound and inbound text messages and what they call "social contact points - which can be a single message communicated via an online channel. That stuff ordinary. You get a certain amount depending on what you pay. But then it gets Jigsaw-like, and for each email address you upload to their crowdsourced contact database, you get a monthly credit (I don't know how much) to add for your use of social contact points.
What's their problem? Well, they are not all that cheap though not horribly expensive either. their target market is somewhat unclear though it smacks of a midmarket to enterprise play; and, they call themselves an integrated Social CRM system, which they aren't. They are what they are. They are social marketing. They don't integrate with anyone yet. They are young so they don't have a lot of story to tell.
So I'm going out on a bit of limb by putting them in the watchlist. But I don't think I'm going out all that far. What they do have is an experienced management team led by Ric Pratte, which all in all has many decades in significant places in CRM so they know the market. They have a very well thought out product that, if they continue to follow through, they will actually go somewhere. They still need to integrate with traditional CRM systems and the varying standalone pillars (SFA perhaps, marketing automation vendors maybe, customer service possibly) This means taking a real leap beyond what is obviously their comfort zone - email marketing (MailChimp, Constant Contact etc.) and they also need to sell their stuff. But for some reason, even though they have the shortest track record of anyone on this list, I'm comfortable with making them a company to watch. I know I'll be lurking. Customer Service Customer service is the centerpiece and the wrapper for Social CRM. In part because the customer has the most direct and emotional stake in their relationship to the company through customer service. But also because customer service is no longer just the specialty of customer service departments but of everyone at a company including sales reps and marketing mavens and even some of the c-level management. Its what's expected by the social customer. So what we're seeing is the transformation of customer service and how it operates - both corporately and externally. Witness the now famous @comcastcares Twitter channel which is a service channel for Comcast that was pioneering just three years ago, but in 2011 is decidedly mainstream. The idea of Twitter channels is just de rigueur in 2011.
Which presents a whole new set of poxes on the traditional customer service house a.k.a. the contact center. New channels, new levels of both qualified and raw information, wrong as often as it is right, new job roles and descriptions, changing tools, different customer demands, a shift in how trust is "distributed" all put a BIG burden on customer service. Thing is, to make this list, as a customer service technology provider, you had to be able to understand and be willing to shoulder those companies burdens by enabling their means to handle this new breed engagement hound known as the social customer. The ones I chose were picked because in 2011 I think they might able to do that. But then again, this is a matter of my numbers and, when it boils down to it, my faith in them. We'll see if that's justified when 2012 rolls around - or before.
Sword-Ciboodle is a Scottish company that in the last two years plus has made serious inroads in the U.S. customer service market, not an easy thing to do for an outpost. They've sold some big deals and established market credibility with a flagship implementation and management services effort at Sears (started in 2009), for example. They've cemented some solid partnerships with companies like SAS , which complement their brand. In fact, they place enough stock in the idea of building a strong partner ecosystem, that they are the only company I know of that elevated the partnership level to a C-level thing, giving Ted Hartley the title of Chief Channel Officer. All in all, they've made an impact in the U.S. market where they had none before - being a quarter billion dollar mostly European entity. They've managed to be a number 1 player in Forrester's Wave in the process-based CRM category - a category I honestly think that Forrester invented, but nonetheless has a few players in it. They've shown up strong in the Enterprise CRM category also with Forrester and show up in pretty much anything that Gartner issues that has "contact center" or "customer service" in the title.
What gets them back onto the Watchlist though is none of that per se. Its their willingness to do what I admire a great deal - put their time, money and mouth where their messaging is.
Even though they really haven't established a presence as a thought leader - yet - they've been highly attuned to the changes in the market and the rise of the social customer. Instead of just paying homage to that, they've made an effort to adjust their product portfolio accordingly. They could have remained comfortable in what they do best - which I call "keeping the ordinary, ordinary" - meaning making sure that the processes in the contact center work, and that the knowledge and tools available to the service representative are flexible and easy to navigate for the agent (the product that covers this used to be called Intelligent Desktop, is now part of what they call Ciboodle One). This would enable support for the 90% of all customer queries that aren't complaints.
But they chose to go in another direction and did what was perhaps the most radical transformation of any company - though without all the angst that usually goes with one of these massive rebranding/rebuilding.
Most important, after deciding to take the plunge, they launched Ciboodle Crowd, a community platform that has the advantage of not only being able to provide locations for customers' service interactions but to capture the interactions and store it in the Ciboodle created unified customer record. Normally, while I'm not a huge fan of build your own - this is a highly competitive community platform that at the same time can call on all of Sword-Ciboodle's customer service technologies from prior (now rebranded and refreshed) products - so it has serious power.
Note something else which might not be something that would be obvious on the surface of these. They, on the advice of folks like me and Esteban Kolsky, took their messaging to a new level - based on what is called Service Dominant Logic (I'm not getting into it in detail here but you can learn more about it in this document by Robert Lusch and Stephen Vargo). What it means is that since the value of something in the business environment is how well it helps people do their jobs (which means literally that - not how well it helps the company do its job but how well it helps the individual employees do the jobs that concern them - their own), the approach that should be taken in marketing is not - here's a list of features and functions, but here's what jobs it helps you do. Note the language in their product descriptions; for example:
A single agent desktop kiss goodbye to the days of entering the same information a million times over in several different desktop applications and forgetting what your customer asked you in the first place. An integrated, unified customer interaction hub with easy access to profile, product, preferences and interactions, helping you to understand your customer, their expectations, and how to service and sell to them more effectively.
Note the approach. Jobs it helps you do. Not features and functions it has. This is the way that marketing can work.
So for their willingness to take calculated risks that are based on a well defined understanding of where the market is going, I applaud them.
In 2011, they have some things they need to do. Though leadership is not theirs - they need to attack the market. Increase their partner ecosystem so that they have the reach that larger companies in their highly, highly competitive space have natively. And make the Ciboodle Crowd SCRM customer service specific product a success. They are hiring to that as you will hear soon in any exciting announcement. But that's only the beginning.
GetSatisfaction made the 2010 Watchlist too. All they've done is get a lot better in the past twelve months. - proving that I'm not bad at pickin' 'em and that they are a keeper - well, it proves the latter at least. They've strengthened their management team by adding Jeff Nolan, who is the former head of SAP Ventures, a key member of the industry influential Enterprise Irregulars (I'm also a member) and someone who is incredibly well grounded and yet has trend monitoring corpuscles in his blood stream so that he knows where the market is going. (For a real picture of who the GetSatisfaction VP of Product Marketing really is, read what he writes here) Add that to the already very experienced and highly capable CEO Wendy Lea and three strong co-founders in Thor Muller, Lane Becker, and Amy Muller and this is something of a dream team when it comes to management smarts in the "grow the start up" space.
The key transition point for GetSatisfaction came with their January 2010 announcement of an integration with salesforce.com. Why? Not because they integrated with salesforce.com particularly. As I've noted frequently enough, this is the first CRM related company everyone integrates with. Nooooo. The key is that what was a site that aggregated customer service communities became a somewhat versatile platform that day - one that integrated with CRM operations in a way that captured and consolidated data. Prior, it successfully hosted a series of active customer service communities for hundreds of companies either officially hosted by the company or set up (unofficially) by a employee of the companies that needed to service customers. The beauty of this was rather than having to go all over the net to get problems resolved and than relying on Google search to get you a potentially unqualified answer, you could come straight to the GetSatisfaction site and get the answers you were looking for - within self-policed communities - creating a higher degree of certainly about the validity of the answer you got from the company you had the beef with to begin with. It wasn't immune from problems for sure, as their flap with 37Signals in 2009 reflected, but they were a blip on a very potentially productive radar.
Becoming a platform, probably the third social site to do so - after Facebook and LinkedIn - gave them opportunities to reach into the customer bases of all the companies that they integrated with and what was a location for a service community became a series of available services that their platform could provide for anyone who wanted to provide a community for their customers.
Needless to say, investors seem to have confidence in them and this interesting turn in their model. In September GetSatisfaction announced a $6 million Series A investment with Azure Capital Partners leading the charge.
This is one of those companies that has exciting possibilities. They are taking a bit of a risk, having already been successful with their service community aggregation model. They have 46,000 customers already. For more stats, check out their infographic (they seem to love them) here.
But there are concerns. First, 2011 is the year that this platform model is going to be successful or not. They've moved into a highly competitive space with all the major CRM providers claiming platform hegemony is their 2011 objective. For them, integrations with CRM packages is key. Yet, outside of the initial one with salesforce.com, the only one that is currently available is Parature, which while worthy, is hardly one that I'd pick to be the #2 choice. No offense intended to Parature. I suppose you could stretch it and call Zendesk CRMish but these are not where I would be stopping or even slowing up at this point.
Second, while they are making commendable efforts to begin to assert some thought leadership in the SCRM space, their SCRM infographic created far too much stir about how wrong it was. To their infinite credit, GetSatisfaction changed it to make it a little better, but I would be more concerned with a campaign that might or might not include an infographic when it comes to thought leadership than to put something out there to have something out there. Infographics are definitely cool, but they need to be definitely right before they go up and should be part of a well constructed thought leadership campaign, not so to speak, slapped on a wall.
That aside, this one is an exciting choice. If this was three years ago, they would have been lumped in with PlanetFeedback as an external customer service site. Now they instead are a really interesting contender that made this Watchlist two years running. 2011 here we come - I'm banking on GetSatisfaction making it in 2012 too.
Genesys' inclusion has a story worth telling over a drink. I won't tell it here because this post is humongous but it really is worthy. I'll buy. Let's just say they were incredibly ballsy and it worked.
I'll clarify their inclusion without the story (way cool) story. A year ago, I didn't even think of them other than as this contact-center-like company, much less consider including them. I had perhaps one interaction with them that was curious and a bit weird so I just shrugged them off after a somewhat cursory look at their CRM offering which was mostly useful but not particularly eyecatching Gplus-Adapters - hooks into existing CRM applications like Siebel or Microsoft. Nothing bad about them, but it didn't guarantee them anything on the radar screen either.
However, they got on my sonar at least, when Charlie Isaacs, who was the former CTO of Kana joined them, well actually parent company Alcatel-Lucent, to head up their e-Services strategy. Charlie is a topflight pro (great sense of humor too) and to get him to a company which you would think would be at most traditional contact centers was something of interest, given Charlie's creative streak.
But as the year progressed, the division doing all the contemporary technology work, Genesys Telecommunications Labs, puts themselves squarely on the scene through what has turned out to be their surprisingly innovative capabilities. Because they are part of a company that also does hardware, they have managed to not just provide the traditional contact center capabilities that we know and expect but they've integrated a multichannel approachwith IVR and other voice technologies, incorporated social media listening and actions, tied themselves through an alliance with Lithium, into service communities and have some extraordinarily innovative capabilities in their pipeline that they can't wait to tell you about.
Okay, that sounds like standard "stuff" so far. What makes them interesting enough to be on the Watchlist for 2011?
Its their technology. Seriously.
Genesys 8, their flagship product, might be the most tightly integrated multichannel customer service communications platform in the industry. What underlies it is rigorous research into how the customer experience is impacted in each channel and every touchpoint and how that the results of the interaction impact other channels and touchpoints. Even though the product integrates workforce and performance management, IVR, VOIP, process centric customer service activities, etc., the core is the Customer Interaction Management (CIM) platform, with the Conversation Manager sitting on top. The core is the CIM platform which actually does exactly what a CIM engine is supposed to do - handle customer interactions - which means expedite their occurence, track them, capture the data, analyze it and store it in a customer record regardless of what channel the interaction took place in. What then adds the more advanced capabilities is the Conversation Manager which sits on top of the CIM platform and all the individual customer's interactions into a single area. In other words, all in all, not only does the Genesys 8 system do that is expected from a deep process and knowledge driven contact center, but it aggregates the entirety of the customer experience so that you can utilize it to gain some insights into your actual individual customer's needs. And it all scales.
The strength of the product and the roadmaps that can't be revealed here put them squarely in the "they are really getting how the customer is thinking" department. They have a lot to do in 2011 to keep moving forward though. First and foremost establish a public presence outside of the world of contact centers and IVR technologies. They have a very smart, tightly formed multi-channel customer service product, but if the only people who know about it are contact center process geeks, they are limiting their market.
But they are not only a ballsy company but one that has cash,has the management, has the leadership and certainly has the product. But what they need now is the presence. I can't wait to see how they do it.
Moxie made it onto the "six months and we'll see" list last year. We saw. They are on the "unequivocally belong" list this year. However, while they are on they still have a boatload of stuff to do to stay on the list, though realistically, if I were them, I wouldn't make that a KPI for next year. If they do what they have to for 2011, I'm sure I'll notice. In any case they've overcome enough of the ones that put them on "we'll see" to say "I saw."
Moxie, formerly nGenera, had been having a hard time staying focused as they entered 2010. While they had a very good and evolving customer service product that was based on knowledge management, crowdsourcing, self service and customer service communities, that threw in a decent amount of internal collaboration features as part of the mix - an entire product devoted to it infact. Their idea? To foster employee engagement and customer engagement. Good thinking.
It took them awhile to get there in part because their business model was to buy companies and roll them into a single entity - sort of having mixed tobaccos or multiple kinds of something else rolled into the same papers. Its sometimes hard to figure out the result. Some of their moves were very interesting, for example, buying CRM provider Talisma in 2008 and then keeping the customer interaction engine and selling off the CRM "parts" to Campus Management - something I still think was a mistake but I understand why they did it. They bought Wikinomics guru Don Tapscott's company and changed the name to nGenera Insight so that they could establish some thought leadership in the space.While Don Tapscott still provides thought leadership, Moxie has made very little capital of the association. Then they had several management changes. Their messaging kept changing.
But, they had a very good product, oddly named, the Spaces Suite, that they had put together from their multiple acquisitions. It focused itself well though - internal and external, employee and customer. The underlying theme was collaboration tools and the channels and processes etc associated with that.
Over 2010, they were able to being to stabilize this. But along came the end of summer and I heard that in order to deal with their past mischegas (Yiddish for mess) and get the company refocused they were going to rebrand in September as Moxie Software. My skepticism arose and all the good will they had built up with me was on shaky ground when I thought "oh, no, not again." But you know what, they announced the rebranding September 15 and its gone very well - very smoothly - actually one of the few that went down as easily as the 1930s soft drink Moxie did - which is why the soft drink was so popular. In addition, their Spaces Suite is being received well in the marketplace, they are paying attention to escalating what they have to do for thought leadership and greater market impact and they seemed to have settled in finally. That's why they are worth watching.
What can they do in 2011? Stay stable in their messaging. Expand their thought leadership efforts by using the assets that they already have and by building out things. They've taken the risks already - with their purported spending of over $100 million for the acquisitions they did to create what is now Moxie. They flailed for awhile. Cultural integration of acquisitions is HARD, people. But they have to now make Moxie's vision clear and take more action on their mission - after they clarify that. They finally seem to have a stable core - with a good product -that gets you a long way.
Pegasystems, a bit more than a year ago, was focused on being an agnostic business process management (BPM) application and in fact was distinctly not-CRM. But about a year ago, Pegasystems recognized that in fact, the world had changed dramatically. They had enough insight to recognize the value of CRM and they took measures to accommodate that. Not only did they revamp their messaging to a more CRM-supportive one, but they spent a few bucks, something this financially sound company can do, and acquired CRM player Chordiant for about $161 million (based on $5.00/share of stock). With that acquisition, they were not only able to justify a CRM centric message to the market, but acquired CRM processes, a company that had vertical strength in particular in insurance, financial services, particularly card services, lending and branch teller services for example, and, of all things European telcos. The acquisition for Pegasystems was a no-brainer, because of the mutual and complementary strengths in some of the same vertical industries and because it gave them CRM functionality and some credibility in a market that they wanted to seriously extend their presence. It didn't hurt that Chordiant was bleeding cash and was picked up cheaply as a result. It came with a downside however. Chordiant only offered an on premise solution, which, at least to me, in part explains why they were bleeding cash. They didn't change with the market, and thus, ironically became part of the Pegasystems master plan to change with the market.
Their acquisition of Chordiant was critical to their CRM-specific aspirations, but not enough to really put them on the map. One advantage that Pega offers that Chordiant doesn't is that their BPM platform as a service. Gartner, in their 2010 CRM Customer Service Contact Centers Magic Quadrant, which put Pegasystems in the highly coveted upper right leadership quadrant, called the PaaS offering an "innovative...development area." Not only can you develop highly customized BPM frameworks, rules, engines, and and apply processes to your specific needs, but you can collaborate in the cloud to do it. What makes this an even stronger offering is that Pega BPM uses a unified architecture that ties the UI, the business rules engine, the processes, and the policies into a neat usable package that emphasizes the word "usable." So that it can be applied to pretty much any system, CRM or not. This is why their revenues were up to $264 million in 2009 from $212 million in 2008. They've nailed this agnostic BPM stuff.
While all that's great, this is a CRM Watchlist. Their acquisition of Chordiant was intriguing, fraught with some danger since Chordiant was antiquated and not improving. But it was also a wise move because Chordiant is a. a CRM system giving Pega credibility in a space they had only some; b. has highly loyal customers in highly specific verticals; and c. has complementary areas of expertise in financial services in particular filling out an important portfolio for the most important Pega vertical and d. is also highly process focused and fits into the Pega ecosystem and CRM plan quite well.
Pega is also thinking ahead. They made some overtures in 2010 around Social CRM, including me doing an SCRM webinar with them. However, their product offering as of now is not SCRM by any stretch. What they do provide is a HIGHLY granular, process/rules based CRM offering that is great for industries that need to be compliant, or are regulated and need scale. Financial services is an obvious one. Health care is another. Industries like telecommunications love this approach.
What makes them part of this Watchlist is that they are an intriguing company that has enough desire and capital and wherewithal and just enough CRM credibility to get somewhere in 2011. They could have remained where they were in the agnostic BPM area and done well without a lot of risk in 2011.In fact, if you look at their 2009 literature they had been somewhat anti-CRM, taking the always useless "CRM is dead" approach. But they did an about face and when they decided that CRM was promising, they went out and acquired a CRM company, rather than take a half measure. They seem to have an abiding interest in SCRM and have publicly acknowledged it with the webinars, marketing etc, which is a good thing. Because they don't have the offering to match that very public interest, they are going to have to put their money where their messaging is in 2011 and show something there. Additionally they are going to have to be very public and very visible in the CRM space because they are years behind some of their competitors when it comes to attempting to gain some sort of hegemony. They are going to have to make cultural changes to be able to be dynamic enough to do that. Not so easy for a company that has been focused on rinse and repeat as a business model for many years (in a good way of course). They aren't there with any of that yet. But what makes them a winner for this Watchlist is the "yet." 2011 is the year to get rid of that 3-letter word. Let's see what they can do.Sales
InsideView is a company I think will make my Watchlist for years to come. Know why? They know they do one thing and rather than get greedy about doing lots of things, they just keep improving on the one thing that they do - sales intelligence. Their scope is narrow, limited to (in a good way) structured and unstructured information that supports sales efforts with categorical and corporate knowledge that is focused around the stuff the competition is doing more than just saying and stuff that your leads, opportunities are doing. Or whoever you care to track in the often fuzzy world of capitalist endeavor.
For example, I now track 76 of my companies using this product and, even with the occasional errant response, its arguably, for my purposes, the most useful tool I use. But I'm small potatoes, so my reports are simple, a bunch of companies and some keywords like CRM and Social CRM. This isn't why InsideView is on the the Watchlist. What makes InsideView a company to watch is that Umberto Milletti, their CEO, realized from Day 1 that while they can stand alone and compete with some of the social media monitoring tools, they were far more powerful integrated with CRM systems, and it was a better business model for them. They proceeded to do just that, by developing custom APIs for each of the CRM partners they've chosen to integrate with. Through the use of APIs they are integrated with, (of course) salesforce.com - the first integration everyone seems to do - and Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Oracle CRM on Demand, NetSuite, Pivotal (through an iframe), SugarCRM and Landslide. A pretty good aggregation to start with.
The best analogy I can think of is handcrafted Italian leather made specially for each individual. The parts of the wallet or coat are generally the same, but each has its own nuance, its own little additive that makes it unique. Thats where InsideView comes it.
It doesn't hurt that they have a solid management team either. Umberto is experienced and quietly busy in the back channels to make sure that he knows who he needs to in the analyst/journalist/influencer world and as a result he knows pretty much who he needs to know. Thus the buzz is good around the company. A more publicly visible active senior management team member - Heidi Tucker is crafting the partnerships and doing much of the major business development - she is ubiquitous and that's a good thing, because as a small company someone needs to be.
Where they fall down a bit is they seem to be far too parsimonious when it comes to the more educational side of thought leadership and mindshare. They do little beyond their own staff in attempts to move mountains - which has its limits. Luckily for them, they have engaging leadership - the aforementioned Umberto and Heidi. But that is never enough, nor is conversation with analysts/journalists/influencers. Nor is just attending other conferences. Now, for InsideView, time to be a little more dramatic in the marketplace. Get the studies out showing why sales intelligence is a justified cost. Only Aberdeen has one, and, given everything, that's pretty limited in value. One study does not a market make. InsideView has to be less quiet this year and show why they are as good as they are - by doing things that get them noticed - even beyond producing a sterling product. Visibility is king for InsideView. Look, I've noticed them - twice now - but Twice is Not Enough (sorry James Bond - twice). 2011 is their year. Now they have to TAKE it.