The CRM WatchList 2011 Preseason: Who's Gonna Make The Team?

Each year, after baseball season ends, those of us who remain fanatics, spend the offseason pondering who our favorite team is going to get that will strengthen us in our run for next year's world series.  Then after the meetings over the winter and the trades etc,  comes spring training where all the young arms and older vets get the chance to go head to head to earn a place on the team's final 25 man roster for the next years pennant chase.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor on

Each year, after baseball season ends, those of us who remain fanatics, spend the offseason pondering who our favorite team is going to get that will strengthen us in our run for next year's world series.  Then after the meetings over the winter and the trades etc,  comes spring training where all the young arms and older vets get the chance to go head to head to earn a place on the team's final 25 man roster for the next years pennant chase.

Well, I'm announcing the CRM 2011 Watchlist Preseason. (Dramatic music with a sports theme). For the first time ever, I'm going to publish my list of candidates for the final Watchlist and then give you the chance, in the name of crowd sourcing and/or vendor self-promotion - a chance to expand that list of candidates before I make my final selections.

Why?  Because I want to let you know what I'm thinking and how I think.  And vice versa. I need to hear from everyone. In order for me to do this right, I need inputs and I also want to be as transparent as possible. Since that transparency can't be physical, meaning I have to wear clothes and I am of ordinary flesh and blood and thus NOT ghostly enough, it will be cerebral. I'm going to expose my thought processes to your cruel barbs and taunts.  But I am of thick New York baked skin so I can handle all that you might throw at me.

So here's the deal.  I'm going to tell you what categories are this year. Then the caveats associated with this list. Then what my criteria are for selection - without revealing how I weight them (weigh them?).  Next I'm going to give you the parameters for the nomination process for companies not on the list and how you can nominate them.  Then I will list the list - without any commentary for any company. Just the list and only the list. Okay, here goes.

The Categories

There are three categories this year.  First - and always the most popular - the technology vendor firms who are such an integral part of the CRM and SCRM market - from giving us all heartburn to at times wowing us with their innovative approach to things.  But always selling - as they should.  They are a business, no matter how offensive that people find vendors selling to be.  Second - a handful of systems integrators and consulting firms - each of whom participates in the life of the CRM world in some way.  Third - and brand new - a look, though slightly less judgmental - at the analyst institutions (note I didn't say just companies) and a market research firm or two worth following. Not independent analysts.  The organizations/institutions. You'll see what I mean.

The Caveats

There are a few things that I need to tell you - I have to get them off my mind before I can move this thing forward. They are killing me. I can't wait to tell you.  Let's go have a drink and I'll unburden these stones on my soul.

I love drama.

Actually, this is just some preliminary universal criteria that are important to understand.

  1. This list - the one you are about to see is the list of companies et. al being considered - not the companies that are good enough to make the final cut. These are the ones who have generally been on my radar awhile and have done something noteworthy enough for me to be ruminating about them and to give them a final nod if they deserve it.
  2. Ah, but even that is fraught with peril, because this year, in a twist worthy of Alfred Hitchcock that's as subtle as Quentin Tarantino's movies,  the Watchlist is going to be reorganized so that some of the companies to watch will be on the rise, some neutral and some on the way down. It is a good thing that you're on the list - because it means that you've done well for the industry and with your customers over the last 12 months - but some companies are noteworthy because while still worth it, they are doing all they can to get removed from the list - and that will be discussed in the final list when it comes out. Sometimes with what I think they can do to repair their increasing damage - because after all, they still are good enough to make the list - which all in all is a positive thing.
  3. I very well may have forgotten some companies that I think should be candidates but the odds of that are miniscule - but again, possible. So....see below on what to do if I have forgotten you or your candidate for the list - or didn't know.
  4. This is a CRM Watchlist - meaning that worthiness is not just how well you analyze twitter traffic or how you suck up to digerati. Traditional CRM still has its place and a BIG place.  Gartner estimates that SCRM is $1 billion of $13 billion in the total CRM market in 2011 so we're still only talkin' maybe 7.5% or so.  Okay? What that means is that while Social CRM is an important part of some of the criteria, its not the sole criteria.  Again this is Social CRM, not social media. Social isn't the center of the universe here - its channels for input and outreach.

The Criteria

Okay, what I'm going to do here is to reveal what my criteria are for making my selection so you can see how I'm thinking. What I'm NOT going to do is reveal how I weigh the criteria and believe me there is significant differences in importance to me from criterion to criterion.  Plus the weights are different between categories. So how I weigh something for a technology vendor isn't necessarily how I weigh it for a consulting firm or an analyst institution.  Take my word for it, what you think are the weights aren't probably the weights.  Though I imagine, saying that is a bit of a truism, since you'd have to be able to read my mind to know how I weigh them, and unless you're Anna Paquin on True Blood, odds aren't good that you can do that.

There are a couple of general points to be made, earthlings.  First, if you haven't been watched closely by me for at least a year, the likelihood of you making this list is not that good. But it has been done by a few in the past.  The arguments can be made. So its worth going for it.  If you haven't existed a year, however, don't bother to even try. Not...gonna...happen.

Additionally, the analyst institutions/market research firms are more informal than the rest.  I'm going to opine more than anything about those. They aren't meeting these criteria.

Without further ado and in no particular order:

  1. Financial Performance - This one is obvious, I would think. How well have they done in the last 12 months?  Part of this is for understanding how they think about their top and bottom lines.  Part of this is to gauge their stability.  Needless to say, this will vary widely and all I'll say about weight is that I take into account how long they've existed and a couple of other things when I look here. How important is this in the overall scheme? Hard to say - for you - heh, heh - but if you know me, you'll know something about how I think here.
  2. Management - This is a look at who their top and CRM/SCRM management are. Remember this is a CRM watchlist so companies that might look good in some other category, might not look so good here. Think Apple -or maybe not.  Leadership counts and since what you often find in companies is that there is an area, island, silo that is functioning extremely well, despite top management - well, in CRM areas, that matters a great deal here - as far as how I look at Management. How I weight it relative to the rest? Keep guessing.
  3. State of Technology Products (Vendor) - Since consulting firms and analyst institutions don't have technology products, this is a vendor only category that takes a look at the quality of their technology portfolio as related to CRM - for its solidity, for its ability to do the jobs needed in its category, for its forward thinking.
  4. Partnerships/Alliances - who do these companies hang out - at least the tech vendors and the SI/consulting institutions.  Was their partner mix a wise one? Are they getting results with their channel/ecosystem? Are they fair to their partners?  All part of the thinking.
  5. Mission/Vision - Could be very important, since it sets the tone for all other things. What are they trying to do according to them - and how well are they doing it - according to me.  What are they thinking long term - do they have the chops to accomplish it - or are they using their vision as a marketing/PR ploy?  Hmmm.
  6. Market Presence/Impact - What kind of impact and presence do they have in the market? That means how they are perceived, how they participate, what their messaging is and how it coheres with their actions in the market.  How they run their external operations - outreach to customers. Customers perception of them?
  7. Thought Leadership -  This is different than market presence.  For example, there is one major company (who shall be revealed in the final Watchlist probably) who has great market presence but is only providing modest to poor thought leadership.  This means how you move the needle forward when it comes to thinking about ideas - which could be in your domain - say, analytics" - but it also looks at how  you relate to analysts, bloggers etc. and how much you participate in the idea marketplace in the community - independent industry conferences etc. and what materials you are putting out there be it a white paper, an event, a video, a conference of your own.
  8. Corporate Culture - Finally, how does your mission/vision and belief structure affect your company and how it interacts with its staff and its customers?  How well do you treat your employees? What do your customers think of working with you - not just of  you.  Are you flexible enough a culture to be able to change when need be.  How imperious is management or how empowered are the staff etc.? All part of this equation.

The List

Okay, now the piece de resistance.  The list.  One thing. The analyst/market research list is admittedly incomplete but I wanted to show you what I was thinking so I put the companies currently on it out there. When it comes to those you see here, they are pretty much going to be chatted about in my final list.  Any others, not necessarily but they are welcome to be considered.

The Technology Vendors

Once again, a reminder. This is NOT the Watchlist "winners." These are companies being considered for the final list. Most won't make it.  However, this is open to additions through November 30.  (See below for the final conditions of addition)

  1. Oracle
  2. SAP
  3. Microsoft
  4. Salesforce.com
  5. NetSuite
  6. RightNow
  7. Sage
  8. SugarCRM
  9. Lithium
  10. Jive
  11. Radian6
  12. Attensity
  13. Aplicor
  14. Maximizer
  15. Nimble
  16. SAS
  17. Baynote
  18. Moxie
  19. Infusionsoft
  20. Eloqua
  21. Marketo
  22. Clarabridge
  23. Cisco
  24. IBM
  25. Really Simple Systems
  26. Zoho
  27. Socialtext
  28. Amdocs
  29. Pegasystems
  30. Sword-Ciboodle
  31. GetSatisfaction
  32. CDC Pivotal
  33. InvisibleCRM
  34. Relayware
  35. Infor
  36. Visible
  37. Google
  38. Apple
  39. Amazon
  40. Telligent
  41. InsideView
  42. Vovici
  43. CrowdFactory
  44. KickApps
  45. Leverage
  46. ResponseTek
  47. Mzinga
  48. PBWorks
  49. Gist
  50. Xobni
  51. FuzeDigital
  52. Parature
  53. BatchBlue
  54. Hootsuite
  55. INgage Networks
  56. Adobe (Omniture)
  57. ExactTarget (CoTweet)

The Systems Integrators/Consulting Companies

The paucity of this list admittedly scares me.  There are systems integrators and consulting firms who are excellent at what they do in CRM.  I don't track most of them.  If you know one that I should be considering - make the case.  Again see below for the conditions.  I'd like to be investigating others at this stage - though I'm pretty busy.

  1. Cap Gemini
  2. Accenture
  3. Cognizant
  4. Deloitte Touche

The Analyst Institutions/Market Research Firms

Again, open to more inclusions.  Only one market research firm that made a big impression on me this year so far but I'm looking back into my notes for more beyond the analyst groups also mentioned.  Any suggestions?  Far more informal here.

  1. Gartner Group
  2. Forrester Research
  3. IDC
  4. Constellation Group
  5. Altimeter Group
  6. Saugatech Research

Conditions for Inclusion

Okay gang, here's what I need from you for additions to the list:

  1. Self promotion from vendors is fine, but marketing fluff won't be convincing. Convince me for real.
  2. If you know of a company - you can be associated with it or not - convince me why I should consider it.  Anyone can do this but don't waste my time either.  Make sure you want to do this because if I include it, I'll be doing additional background work that I will need to do.  I don't want to work 24X7 everyone.
  3. Either make your case in a comment here or via email - paul-greenberg3@comcast.net  There will be NO other way to do it.
  4. The deadline is November 30 COB Eastern Time - that would be about 8pm for me.  Sigh.


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