The list of best-in-class Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendors is dominated by large technology companies, many of which earned their position by acquiring a well-established CPG software vendor over the past three to five years, with a couple exceptions. Hans Van Delden, vice president with PwC Strategy&, lends his expertise to examine trends in this critical area of investment.
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Van Delden: Salesforce.com earning the Best in Category honor is no surprise. The company has emerged as the leader in cloud-based CRM. Its base offerings meet the basic CRM needs for many businesses, while its Force.com platform allows its applications to be extended to meet unique business requirements. The platform’s user interface is generally seen as clean, modern and easy to use. Salesforce.com is a strong contender for CRM applications such as Lead & Opportunity Management, Retail Execution and Customer Service. It will likely be a key player in our industry for the foreseeable future.
Large vendors dominate this list. How do their solutions continue to meet changing needs?
Van Delden:AFS Technologies is the leader in Customer Satisfaction after acquiring Trade Insights (formerly MEI). Its solution offers great value to small CG companies that need a basic TPM solution. While it is not particularly advanced compared to other solutions on the market, it is relatively inexpensive. As an established player, it tends to be a safer bet than the many newer entrants in the crowded market.
SAP has been a contender in the CRM space for over a decade. To its credit, the company has continued to invest in the product and as a result, the product has matured greatly over the last 10 years.
This is an especially exciting time for SAP CRM as the product is at a turning point in two regards. First, HANA has the potential to address the single biggest architectural challenge since it entered the TPM market. HANA is a complex technology and will take time to work through its ramp up issues, but it is the most important architectural change SAP has made to its TPM offering. For companies that want to use SAP CRM for more than processing trade payments, HANA is the game changer.
Second, SAP invested a great deal behind its SAP Cloud for Sales product. This product provides a cloud-based alternative to many of the capabilities offered by the on-premise SAP CRM solution, with the notable exception of TPM. While relatively new, SAP Cloud for Sales is impressive and the platform is gaining momentum.
Accenture CAS continues to be competitive in the TPM, Retail Execution and Direct Store Delivery space. The platform’s underlying flexibility allows companies to tailor the solution in order to meet their needs. As with SAP CRM, this solution requires more skilled implementation resources.