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 Welcome to CRM café

Here we look at the state of the CRM software industry and identify the top CRM software systems, top cloud CRM solutions and top social CRM tools.

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Top 5 CRM Software

 

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Top 10 Cloud CRM

 

 

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Top 10 Cloud CRM Solutions

The Top 10 cloud or Software as a Service (SaaS) Customer Relationship Management solutions as measured by global market share.

Salesforce.com
Salesforce.com Advantages
  • Salesforce.com is a proven innovator. The company delivers new product features, and new capabilities, on a continuous basis.
  • Salesforce promotes an active user community—including customers and partners. Salesforce uses its Ideas software function to manage community input, its Radian6 cloud monitor to listen to online channels, social networks integration to liaise with customers in online venues. Too often CRM vendors do not practice the Customer Relationship Management strategy and execution they preach to the market, however, Salesforce.com clearly walks the walk.
  • The Salesforce user interface (UI) maximizes consumer technologies to deliver a simple and rewarding user experience. Navigation and logic follows that of eBay or Amazon.com. No instruction manuals required. This has delivered a strong positive effect in achieving user adoption—especially among sales professionals.
  • Salesforce.com's combination of Force.com, other Platform as a Service tools and the AppExchange online marketplace lead the cloud CRM industry in terms of SaaS integration, software customization and third party extensibility.
Salesforce.com Disadvantages
  • As Salesforce continues its transition from a CRM vendor to a platform provider, several CRM competitors have exceeded Salesforce's CRM features and capabilities.
  • The marketing software is competitively weak in the cloud CRM industry.
  • Salesforce also does not offer sophisticated business intelligence (BI). If you seek data mining, data warehousing, online analytical processing (OLAP) or predictive analytics you will need to acquire third party software from AppExchange or elsewhere.
  • When reviewing features to features Salesforce is the highest priced product in the cloud CRM industry.
  • Salesforce becomes less competitive when looking beyond CRM. For businesses seeking broader business software suites, such as including accounting or ERP systems, the inconsistency and shallow integrations delivered with third party AppExchange vendors do not stand up as well to single vendor software products from competitors such as NetSuite and SAP Business ByDesign.
  • Salesforce generally does not provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) unless the customer negotiates it. Even then, SLAs are inconsistent from customer to customer and offer lesser uptime guarantees than primary cloud CRM competitors.
Microsoft

Microsoft CRM Advantages

  • Microsoft CRM is feature rich yet easy to use. The SFA software can run within an Outlook client and gives the look and feel of an Microsoft Office environment. Ease of use tools include a contextual ribbon bar, role-based design and user personalization of workspaces and page views.
  • Easy access to information. Wizard-driven visualization panels, support for PowerPivot and Excel cubes, time-sensitive queries, and easy to create dashboards give users the ability to access information without getting IT involved.
  • Microsoft CRM offers choice in software delivery—be it on premise, SaaS or partner hosted. The Microsoft SaaS and on-premise software products share the same code base thereby allowing customers to change delivery models if they choose. Also, Microsoft CRM is hosting neutral, allowing customers to select among a plethora of hosting providers or bring the software in house.
  • The Microsoft CRM review shows customization and platform software integration tools which increase product flexibility and extensibility.
  • Strong desktop integration. Office users can seamlessly integrate with the CRM database.
  • An offline sales client with automatic synchronization when online connectivity is reestablished.
  • A global CRM system that delivers localized capabilities in 40 regions and 41 languages.
  • A combination of deep features sets and the lowest subscription pricing among all SaaS CRM vendors makes Microsoft CRM the best value proposition in the industry.

Microsoft CRM Disadvantages

  • The marketing and customer service software are improving however are not as strong as the SFA software.
  • Microsoft supports a third party product portal called Pinpoint which is a fair online marketplace, however, it lacks the quantity of applications as compared to eco-systems such as AppExchange.
  • Microsoft has consolidated the CRM software interface with the Outlook client providing a familiar and user friendly client presentation. However, customers wanting to use Exchange to better scale the management of syncing contacts, email, tasks and appointments will need to acquire a third party partner product.
  • Microsoft also manages four popular accounting software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications—Dynamics AX, Nav, GP and SL. Front to back office integration is powerful in automating enterprise-wide business processes. However, none of the four ERP systems are cloud apps and integration among Microsoft ERP and CRM systems is available, but has always been clunky and complex. Microsoft executives suggest the company will improve CRM to ERP integration in late 2011 or 2012.
  • Microsoft does not provide CRM hosting to several prominent countries, such as Argentina, China and Taiwan.
  • Microsoft CRM does not provide wide browser support. CRM only runs on IE 7 to 9, with Windows XP or later.
  • The company does not provide customer sandbox environments for testing or QA.
Oracle CRM On Demand

Oracle CRM on Demand Advantages

  • Oracle is the first cloud CRM vendor to embed sophisticated marketing and lead management software, which includes digital tracking, lead scoring, nurture campaigns and distribution of sales ready leads.
  • Oracle CRM on Demand provides the best Business Intelligence (BI) in the cloud CRM industry. Beyond dashboards which all vendor deliver, the Answers on Demand analysis tool facilitates easy creation of custom reports—and where CRM on Demand dominates the competition is with its data warehousing and OLAP (online analytical processing). CRM data can be analyzed among multiple dimensions, manipulated and modeled in real time for learning and insight that's not possible from canned reports.
  • Oracle CRM offers customers a choice when it comes to hosting. Customers can elect the multi-tenant hosting option or can choose to upgrade to a single-tenant hosting option.
  • Oracle CRM on Demand offers an attractive total cost of ownership (TCO). Its subscription fee is one of the lowest in the cloud CRM industry.

Oracle CRM on Demand Disadvantages

  • The user interface and user experience doesn't keep up with some SaaS CRM competitors who have better embraced consumer technologies. While the user interface is efficient and intuitive, it's just not engaging or rewarding.
  • The Oracle CRM on Demand product lags cloud competitors in social media and social CRM features.
  • The CRM on Demand business partner channel is small and doesn't offer a mature online ecosystem of integrated third party plug-in solutions. While the company is steadily growing their indirect business partner channel, it remains a fraction of what some competitors bring to the cloud marketplace.
  • Mobile CRM solutions are pretty good, however, support a limited number of devices. The Mobile Sales Assistant operates on the iPhone and RIM Blackberry, while the Mobile Sales Forecast only runs on the Apple iPhone.
  • Certain key functions (e.g. e-mail marketing) only run on the IE browser while others support only IE and Firefox browsers.
RightNow
RightNow Advantages:
  • A market leader for large B2C companies seeking customer service and customer experience applications. The company's support product excels in multi-channel service, incident management, knowledge management and customer experience management (CEM).
  • Good social CRM tools empower brand owners to create customer and partner communities, promote peer to peer engagement, liaise with social networks and import social streams, and implement mash-ups to merge data from different sources.
  • Despite weak sales force automation (SFA) software, the marketing system is impressive with deep campaign functionality and predictive analytics.
  • The Natural Language Search engine offers a unique semantic search technology. The natural language search uses algorithms with industry specific linguistic dictionaries and local language sets to return more accurate responses.
  • The application offers unique voice enablement capabilities, including a voice interface to knowledgebase, case management, password reset, customer surveys, and one number routing.
RightNow Disadvantages:
  • An uneven and some would say unbalanced CRM application suite. Sales force automation (SFA) is particularly weak.
  • No offline client is available to access CRM data while disconnected from the Internet.
  • The company doesn't offer a third party online ecosystem or online marketplace of integrated third party solutions.
  • A fat client technology and heavy client side download is required. This is not a typical browser-based, lightweight, thin-client CRM solution.
  • RightNow often uses CRM scare tactics—usually citing sky high CRM implementation failure rates—to suggest that CRM has failed over the years, and they are different as they are customer experience management (CEM), not customer relationship management (CRM). Its a pathetic attempt to try to find differentiation. RightNow Technologies CX suite is clearly a CRM application.
SugarCRM

SugarCRM Advantages

  • The SugarCRM development framework, customization tools and open source code offer the most flexible and extensible software customization in the CRM market. SugarCRM can be customized at various levels, such as the data model as well as objects, columns, fields and user interface (UI).
  • SugarCRM is one of the few SaaS CRM vendors to offer cloud portability. Customers have the choice to select the public or private cloud that best meets their reliability, performance and service level agreement needs. Customers can elect to run their CRM software on the Amazon EC2 cloud, Microsoft Azure cloud, Rackspace cloud or other public clouds—or switch clouds at will if a better provider becomes available.
  • The SugarCRM development community, SugarForge, is the most mature open source community in the business software applications industry. There are more than 250,000 members, 25,000 software developers and nearly 1,000 CRM extension projects. The strength of this community continues to deliver a deep portfolio of complimentary products and delivers local support throughout the world.
  • Sugar CRM offers a compelling CRM software acquisition cost and one of the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) CRM applications in the marketplace.

SugarCRM Disadvantages

  • Sugar CRM's four paid product editions have a minimum 5 user count. This can result in a high acquisition cost for some small businesses with less than 5 users.
  • Sugar's Service Level Agreement (SLA) for its CRM On-Demand hosting service is not as strong as some CRM competitors.
  • Sugar lacks the brand visibility of its much larger software competitors. Even though the company has a compelling story, it suffers from limited market awareness outside its core open source community. This is steadily improving as the CRM vendor demonstrates continued business performance and growth, but remains an obstacle which holds back the company's customer acquisitions and market share growth objectives.
  • Like most SaaS CRM vendors, Sugar is somewhere between weak and absent when it comes to business intelligence, customer analytics, data mining and predictive analytics.
  • As a commercial open source CRM product, some middle market and enterprise businesses demonstrate hesitation in the procurement process due to a lack of familiarity with open source. There are many sale opportunities where Sugar CRM simply does not get invited to participate because of buyer reluctance. Increased promotion and better messaging is beginning to chip away at this perception dilemma.

Cloud CRM solutions 6 through 10 under development ...

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