Gartners Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant came out last month. There were few surprises. SalesForce.com remained the leader, with Oracle’s Siebel coming in second. Microsofts Dynamics CRM is making a push and trying to challenge Seibel and Salesforce.com
Despite what looks like a few leaders among a crowd of lowly contenders, I think there is still room for new players in the leadership quandrant. The visionary quadrant is nearly empty while there is overcrowding in the niche quadrant. The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) space is far from mature.
Saleforce.com jumped out early and figured out the value in a hosted/SaaS/Cloud model. I think it was a great move and clearly the way to go. Companies managing their own Sales Force Automation or CRM server side just makes no sense and unnecessarily increases the cost of sales.
I’ve used 4 of the SFA systems in the magic quadrant, Goldmine, Act, Saleforce.com and Siebel. I prefer Salesforce.com. But despite my preference, I’m not convined they have it nailed. CRM systems need to do some things really well. First they need to be simple to use. They should have an almost idiot proof barrier to adoption. Second they have to be easy to navigate. Don’t confuse easy navigation with ease of use. By navigation I mean the fewer clicks per activity or task. One to three clicks for updating an opportunity, creating a report, or changing a sales stage should be the goal. It needs to be easy to move from one activity to the next flawlessly. I’m don’t think any of the CRM tools do these things really well. I also think CRM tools should look to Facebook and other web 2.0 companies for their UI development. Most CRM systems lack the connection data social networks provide, such as notification of similar solutions being sold by others in the organization, collateral recommendations for specific products or sales opportunities etc. Most CRM tools are still very linear and miss an opportunity to connect sales teams, with the data, the solutions and the customers. Use of the data is an area where CRM tools could make substantial gains and where challengers or niche players could make inroads.
CRM tools are critical. I am a huge fan. I’ve worked in sales organizations that didn’t have them and they just aren’t productive, efficient organizations. Companies dedicated to sales and revenue success adopt and manage a strong CRM tool. CRM tools provide organizations with the data, process, and connectivity necessary to accelerate the sale, manage revenue, identify product gaps and trends etc. CRM tools have the ability to be a core business system for companies large and small. Understanding this, I will not be surprised to see a new contender enter the leader quadrant in the next few years. There is just too much the current CRM systems don’t do or don’t do well today.
Despite the crowded space, the quadrants don’t lie. The visionary quadrant is conspicuously empty. This means there is room for innovation. I hope someone recognizes this and comes up with the next killer CRM app. I’ll use it!