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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy used to learn more about a customer’s needs and behaviors in order to develop a stronger relationship with them, thereby creating a value exchange on both sides. As Lovelock and Wirtz (2010) state in Services Marketing, People, Technology, Strategy, “from a customer perspective, well-implemented CRM systems can offer a unified customer interface that delivers customization and personalization.” Lovelock and Wirtz (2010) argue that at each transaction point, such relevant patron data as a customer's personal preferences as well as his or her overall past history transactions are available to the clerk serving the customer, giving them valuable information about how to interact with the person.

Beyond simple CRM (which, I guess, is never really that simple) Social CRM (SCRM) adds a whole new element to the mix. SCRM is the use of “social media services, techniques and technology to enable organizations to engage with customers” ( In his article Time To Put a Stake in the Ground On Social CRM, Paul Greenberg (2009) argues that:

Three major trends are shaping the large enterprise CRM suite market, according to Leslie Ament, senior vice president and chief research officer of the Hypatia Research Group. First, a greater emphasis on analytics means more intuitive and visually appealing dashboards. This has translated “not necessarily [into] an increase in insights, but definitely [into] an increase in the ability to visualize and play with data in a way that’s easily consumable,” Ament says.

Second, workflow configurations have been simplified so that employees can interact with customers more consistently and provide them with similar experiences across the board.

Third, result-oriented outcomes such as commerce and conversion are receiving a greater focus, Ament says., for instance, recently acquired Demandware for $2.8 billion, helping it catch up with IBM, SAP, and Oracle, which have also invested in this area.

And all three of these trends are driven by the desire to reduce friction in a customer’s journey.


Microsoft has been bumped from the top, but it posted the highest score for cost (4.1) and remains strongly functional. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM now provides customers with a fully integrated (converged) suite of products to enhance customer engagement via multiple touch points and to do so with enterprise-wide intelligence supported by [its] Business Analytics platform,” Ament says via email. Jim Dickie, a research fellow at CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global, lauds the company for “integrating tools that salespeople need to be effective.”

Oracle continues to offer a broad range of tools, analysts agree; the vendor posted a score of 4.3 in that category. The company’s “functional sophistication and vertical versions guarantee Oracle a spot on enterprise shortlists,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association. But it’s held back a bit by its high cost and comparatively low customer satisfaction rating (3.6).

SAP, like Oracle, earned points for the range of its products’ functionality (4.1), but it also struggles with cost and customer satisfaction (a 3.3 rating in the latter). Dickie notes that for SAP, it “sometimes seems like CRM is a stepchild to ERP.” Ament says the vendor’s customer engagement and commerce solutions have “feature-rich functionality for sales, service, and marketing that are designed for omnichannel customer engagement journeys with a bias towards results-oriented outcomes such as commerce.”

SugarCRM returns to the leaderboard, thanks to high scores for cost (4.0) and functionality (3.8). According to Dickie, it’s not often seen as a large enterprise option. But Ament notes that SugarCRM has received a big boost from its partnership with IBM, adding that “SugarCRM is positioned as part of IBM PureSystems Centre offerings and as aligning with IBM ExperienceOne/Smarter Commerce, IBM Collaboration Solutions, IBM Analytics, and IBM Infrastructure.”

THE WINNER reclaims the title this year, after falling behind Microsoft in 2015. One reason: The company continues to rate highest overall in depth of functionality (4.4). According to Ragsdale, has seen major improvements in customer satisfaction over the past year or two, as it continues to improve features and invest in its user interface. This could also be due to the willingness of customers to speak up: “Salesforce customers are vocal, responsive, and loyal to its brand promise and delivery on social responsibility, highly graphical user interface with intuitive dashboard, and workflow visualization and ease of use,” Ament says. “The company listens to customer demand and offers a robust set of features and functionality with various pricing options.” Dickie lauds the company’s addition of configure-price-quote (CPQ) capabilities and deeper analytics support.

Another term for “Social CRM” is “Social Media Monitoring”, the process by which companies monitor sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Weibo, WeChat, WhatsApp and others for relevant brand and anti-brand comments and mentions. Social media monitoring tools allow for continuous customer engagement. I will delve further into these social media solution later in this roadmap.

In assessing CRM solutions, Forrester considered three main areas when looking at vendors making it into the Wave. They were:

  • Current Offering: Global capabilities and reach, adoption to specific industries, data management and analytics ability as well as usability.
  • Strategy: Product strategy and vision and how the vendors differentiate themselves in the market.
  • Market Presence: The vendor’s customer and user base in the large organizations market and the resources available to develop the product in the market.


Cruising with Salesforce