2014 Readers' Choice Survey: Customer Relationship Management

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SAP leads this year’s ranking of CRM software providers, a testament to its commitment to delivering a 360-degree view of customers while leveraging the latest in analytics, cloud, enterprise mobility, collaboration and social media solutions. Here, Jon Van Duyne, senior executive advisor for Booz & Company, weighs in on the four core trends that influenced readers in their selection of CRM’s top providers.

Can you identify the trends that are influencing CRM implementations today? And how are the top players helping consumer goods companies in these areas?
Van Duyne:
First, demand from mid-tier companies for all forms of CRM, but especially sales force automation and trade promotion management, has been increasing over the last three years, particularly as mid-sized companies began to focus investment on the front office. This trend has benefited providers such as Microsoft,, AFS, Infor and JDA, all of whom have developed a large installed base in the mid-tier over the last 10 or more years. Simultaneously, this trend has put pressure on some of the larger enterprise solution providers who, in some cases, have struggled to build a meaningful presence in this important market segment.

A second trend is the by-product of aging CRM legacy systems. Less expensive, functionally-rich solutions combined with cost-pressures and a growing appreciation of the benefits of cloud computing are forcing a rethink on the part of many CIOs as they consider upgrading or replacing existing CRM applications.  Over recent years, a number of the CRM providers ranked in the survey have upgraded the features of software applications that are relatively straightforward to implement. This move has boosted the popularity of AFS, and other comparable providers as managers seek to avoid the long, expensive implementations often associated with the larger enterprise-class CRM tools.

Third, the continued growth of smart phones and tablets has also had a major impact on the CRM category as consumer goods manufacturers improve the management of daily field operations and in-store execution. Many companies are equipping their sales force with tablets and/or smart phone applications; applications that address these needs and have benefitted from this trend.

Finally, the proliferation of mobile devices has also fuelled a desire on the part of sales and marketing teams to gather consumer insights throughout the path to purchase. Most of the providers on the list are focused on addressing this need, which contributed to their popularity.

Are there any final considerations for consumer goods companies that want to improve CRM ?
Van Duyne:
CRM is a very mature category that was initially developed by Siebel, SAP and CAS. While these providers will certainly continue to play an influential role, the trends detailed above will likely fuel increasing demand for software/cloud solutions that will augment or potentially replace functionality provided by historic category leaders.