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Summer Reading – Thoughts on Gartner’s Latest CRM CEC Magic Quadrant


As I ramp up DCG’s social CRM research I’ve been looking through a number of recent industry studies including the latest edition of the Gartner Magic Quadrant on CRM Customer Engagement Center solutions (new term they are using to reflect the growing role of social channels – report is available from several featured vendors) and thought it would be useful to share my observations and beach-side perspective on their analysis.

First off, whether you love or hate the MQ, Gartner’s framework is an established, thorough, (mostly) understandable lens to view solutions providers and their capabilities. It’s a great tool that I’ve used in my marketing roles over the years. But it’s just a tool. Second, even though vendor professional services capabilities and partners are part of the Customer Experience and Operations components, I feel that part is relatively underweighted. And third, I can’t help thinking that the MQ continues to be mostly an inside-out perspective. Which is why I ponder a potential third dimension (making it a magic cube?!) below.

Some of my observations on the rankings:

Overrated vendors? – I can see Salesforce ahead of the pack when it comes to innovation, especially given the company’s early leadership in cloud, social and user-centric design, but I just can’t see them as tops in ability to execute as well, given limited experience in large, complex service centers or industries where process automation is key (as Gartner notes). I also question Pegasystems in the leadership quadrant, although they fit the ‘visionary’ label for sure. Pega has done a lot to promote BPM in the customer area, and is a highly capable solution where a rules engine (my background) can drive complex service processes. But given the company’s relatively recent focus on CRM, limited partnerships (note progress below), and still emerging social offerings, I’d bump them down below RightNow, Microsoft, and perhaps even Amdocs on the execution dimension.

And Some Who May be Underrated – With its recent HANA roll-out, commitment to mobile, revamped CRM organization, plus relationships with value-add solutions like NetBase and Open Text, SAP is showing signs it’s becoming much more forward-looking when it comes to defining the future of CRM (and CEM, as noted below). While SAP’s positioning on the execution dimension looks about right, I see them moving over to the right significantly over the next 12 months. Besides SAP, I also see Parature more squarely in the visionary box (see below), and potentially KANA (my old company) higher given strength of Ciboodle product and KANA’s in-house professional services team, a key asset when deploying process-driven service solutions.

Missing Players – where’s Nimble, someone who just about invented Social CRM? Or if Lithium is in the conversation, why not Jive?

Key developments since MQ was published:

Oracle – Salesforce partnership – whether this announcement means that Oracle felt it needed to adjust their CRM GTM strategy, or both parties see the threat from SAP and others, this was a key development that will no doubt influence future MQs. My friend and former colleague Esteban Kolsky has an excellent write-up on this deal here.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM tiered pricing – in early July the company announced a more flexible 3-tier pricing policy for its online apps, which offers to make the product more competitive with Salesforce.

Parature Social Customer Service Suite – in late June the company announced new capabilities including a new social monitoring tool and Facebook portal that significantly enhance the company’s social CRM chops.

Pegasystems Process Extender available on Salesforce AppExchange – at the end of May the company made it easier for Pega applications to interoperate with Saleforce apps.

SAP purchase of Hybris – see the Tim Walters write-up of this deal that enhances SAP’s cloud and omnichannel e-commerce capabilities.

So Is there a need for a third dimension?

I’ve always thought there’s something to be said for leading by example – especially when you are pitching technology to organizations who need to revamp the way they interact with their customers. That’s why I started tracking the social activity of the top CRM vendors a few year back, as featured in this piece in CRM Magazine. And including social chatter, customer feedback, and reviews would be a great addition to these types of vendor scorecards.

Plus, as a marketer, I want to see if the top vendors are selling new ideas or simply selling products, as I discuss in this recent post on B2B social marketing. For these reasons I’d love to see each vendor’s relative social presence and influence (e.g., Klout) as well as the volume and depth of content they produce and share, and how they engage within the community added to the analysis. Even better, I’d like to know if they are capturing not only market share, but also the share of conversations about key industry topics or trends.

Interestingly, if you take the 3 ‘leaders’ (Oracle RightNow, Pega and Salesforce) and 3 ‘challengers’ (Oracle Siebel, SAP and Microsoft) from this MQ and do a quick rundown of their share of social conversations over the past few months on 3 of the key topics discussed in the report (analytics, social media, and mobile), Salesforce, SAP, and Microsoft rise to the top, while Oracle and Pega drop back in this type of social engagement ranking.

Will this type of social search and listening-based analysis replace the MQ anytime soon? It’s doubtful. But I hope it shows that there are other approaches outside of tools like the MQ that may provide insights into what vendors think, and what customers and experts are saying about their products. And even more so, the best tools allow buyers and third-party influencers to do their own analysis. Which is always the best way to test assumptions, plug in your own needs, and come to your own conclusions. A point that Scott Liewehr makes at the end of his recent post looking at the latest Forrester Wave on WCM.

As he noted in that post, if you are evaluating CRM/CEM/CEC solutions and are looking for the right tool and solution provider, DCG has deep experience running selection processes and also helping align internal goals, needs and resources. Plus our new Guide to Service Providers is the definitive resource for comparing and picking a CEM service partner. We’d love to share our perspectives and see how we might help.


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