CEO at Econsultancy
21 February 2001 17:23pm
What follows is a brief review of leading vendors in the CRM / eCRM industry. A broad range is included representing a mixture from the more ‘traditional’ enterprise CRM players to more dedicated eCRM or e-business platform vendors.
The companies reviewed are: Siebel, Oracle, PeopleSoft/Vantive, Nortel/Clarify, Onyx, MicroStrategy, Kana, e.Gain, Vignette, BroadVision, e.Piphany and ATG
It should be noted that the list is not comprehensive: why e.Piphany and not Broadbase or NetPerceptions? Why e.Gain and Kana and not Delano? Why BroadVision and ATG and not OpenMarket, Interwoven or Interworld? Why Onyx and not Pivotal? Essentially for little other reason than a lack of time and that the companies chosen, my hook or by crook, have gained a higher level of mind share if not in the market then at least in my mind.
These reviews are not meant to be recommendations in any way. The best solution for any company will depend on that company’s particular circumstance and a raft of other important considerations such as: customer support, contracts, servicing, cultural fit, integration with existing and future technology implementations, existing partnerships etc.
A few key messages come across:
- Expect consolidation in the marketplace
- eCRM and CRM will converge. In the same way that all business is becoming e-business, such that in the future it can be called just ‘business’ again, the difference between eCRM and CRM will become increasingly blurred and irrelevant
- ASPs and hosted services will form an increasingly important part of CRM solutions – and other e-business solutions for that matter
- Wireless will be big, it just hasn’t gained critical user mass yet
- The big boys see CRM as part of a broader move towards end-to-end e-business
A fairly crude split is made between the ‘big boys’ coming from database, customer service, Sales Force Automation, ERP type backgrounds and the ‘e-crowd’ who have typically mushroomed from an analytics and e-mail / e-commerce / content management background.
*The big boys – moving from CRM to e-business*
Probably the company most synonymous with CRM and, with over 4,500 employees across 28 countries, the heavyweight of the CRM industry. Siebel’s heritage is in sales force automation but they have since branched out into all areas of CRM.
Until recently, Siebel’s analytic capabilities were not that impressive but the recent release of Siebel eBusiness 2000.3 has addressed this as well as provided a much more comprehensive eMarketing application.
Siebel has been comparatively slow to move away from its proprietary client-server architecture towards open n-tier standards but is going that way and provides embedded integration hooks into external applications such as SAP.
Siebel provides solutions tailored to the following verticals: Automotive, Public Sector, Communications, Consumer Goods, Apparel and Footwear, Energy, Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Pharma and Retail.
Scale and breadth of solutions; Vertical-specific offerings
Cost; still not a truly open architecture; analytics only recently brought up to scratch
Similarly to other big players, particularly Oracle, Siebel is positioning itself as being about e-business, not just CRM – it’s company strapline is now simply ‘eBusiness’. The acquisition of OpenSite Technologies in 2000 was indicative as this provided Siebel with the e-commerce capabilities necessary for e-business more broadly.
Similarly to Oracle and PeopleSoft/Vantive, Siebel is actively pursuing wireless (including deals with Sprint, Palm and Nokia) and ASP solutions. Furthermore, Siebel’s release of Siebel eBusiness 2000 Midmarket Edition signals a move towards the mid-market where there are a higher volume of customers.
Siebel seems well entrenched at the highest end of the market with the largest market share at around 18%, but it remains to be seen how well they will fare in their move towards the mid range.
In just a few years Oracle has dramatically increased its efforts in the CRM space, rising to be undeniably in the top tier of CRM vendors, currently the fourth largest player by market share after Siebel, Vantive and Clarify.
Oracle’s offering covers sales, marketing and services with the recent Oracle CRM 11i also supporting multimedia call centres. As well as integrating much of the ERP side of Oracle into the Service product, there are also 2 commerce components to the Sales product (iStore and iPayment) which enables Oracle to play somewhere between the likes of Nortel/Clarify and BroadVision. Add strong online marketing capabilities founded on robust business intelligence and analytics and you’ve got a solution that is about as complete as it could be.
Oracle has also made significant investment into wireless services, though these are based largely on hosted solutions. The Sales product has a component allowing salespeople to store information on a Palm device, but the most comprehensive offering is the ASP / portal at oraclemobile.com
Database and analytics technology; scale and scope of offering; commerce and wireless capabilities;
Along with the other major CRM players, Oracle is moving to link the front and back offices through an end-to-end e-business solution. CRM or eCRM is in fact a subset of e-business on a broader scale for Oracle, the world’s second largest software company after Microsoft. Oracle is forming an IP infrastructure to handle all forms of voice and data that will support an integrated e-business system. Their alliance with Cisco in July 2000 helps support this as well as giving them enhanced interaction management capabilities.
It will interesting to see how far Oracle go with their ASP / hosted services approach. This is currently particularly evident through their wireless initiative (oraclemobile.com) and compares intriguingly with MicroStrategy’s strategy.com wireless portal. The evolution of Microsoft’s .NET will no doubt shape Oracle’s strategy.
Oracle is already a big fish and Larry Ellison’s determination to be richer than Bill Gates should ensure they remain one of the very biggest in the CRM sphere.
The PeopleSoft/Vantive marriage has turned out to be much successful than some analysts though it might be last January. PeopleSoft’s back-office and ERP strengths with Vantive’s front-office customer service, interaction management and field support strengths, all underpinned and delivered using an open and scalable internet architecture based on Java and XML, have made CRM PeopleSoft/Vantive’s best-selling product.
The back-office meets front-office capabilities give a huge array of services and applications, including everything from data warehousing and complex analytics to e-commerce and supply chain management. Open integration with other external applications, such as SAP, has also been built in.
Combination of best-of-breed back-office and front-office solutions
PeopleSoft’s financial difficulties have held integration back somewhat; more cautionary approach to wireless
The ERP market may have died, causing PeopleSoft’s financial problems, but the Vantive acquisition and move towards a CRM future seem to be paying dividends. PeopleSoft’s installed customer base will also be an advantage in selling to clients looking to move towards web-based CRM solutions.
A less aggressive move into wireless capabilities does not signal a flaw in long term strategy, more a realisation that it will still be a while before a critical mass of end customers actually want to use these applications.
PeopleSoft/Vantive’s recent creation of eCenter hosting services, coupled with their customer, employee and supplier portals, points towards an ASP future that has interesting parallels with both Onyx and Oracle in particular.
Clarify’s recent purchase by Nortel Networks gives them the financial clout to compete as one of the larger enterprise CRM vendors. Clarify’s large suite of solutions is similar to Siebel’s and they have vertical market propositions for Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Automotive, High Technology, Retail, Utilities and Energy, Travel.
Clarify’s expertise was in its call centre software (hence Nortel’s interest) but the Feb 2000 release of their eFrontOffice 9.0 suite, along with a major deal with SAP, have taken it firmly into the broader CRM sphere.
Customer support, communications services, call centres; big player with comprehensive
suite of CRM products; specific vertical offerings
Analytical capabilities, online personalisation, high costs, partner management
On the CRM / eCRM convergence spectrum, Nortel/Clarify are the coming from the CRM side
and moving towards eCRM in exactly the same way that Vignette and BroadVision are moving from eCRM towards CRM. Nortel/Clarify’s core aim is to incorporate all customer touchpoints under a single framework and they are well positioned to provide the link between CRM and eCRM. Maybe they are considering acquiring digital domain expertise to enhance their ‘e’ credentials?
Onyx has made a name for itself through being the first CRM company to push the concept of using portals as web interfaces to the underlying information. These portals aggregate the information and provide tools to use it as well as giving personalised views depending on the target market. There are 3 such portals in the product suite: Employee, Customer and Partner portals. Underpinning all these is an e-Business engine which provides data, workflow and integration capabilities.
Onyx, along with MicroStrategy and many of the other CRM vendors, is also making a strong play towards wireless with recent releases of two mobile products, ‘Mobile Client’ and ‘Outlook’.
Portal-based interface; customer self-service features; mobile offering; comprehensive suite of products
Dependence on Microsoft technology; interactive capabilities under-developed compared to self-service component; e-commerce / content management capabilities not core competencies
Onyx sees itself as one of the remaining big players following a market shake out. With over 600 customers and a serious commitment to international growth (they have full service offices in 10 countries across the globe) they have a good chance of achieving this. The portal mindshare that they have won has helped position them as ‘e-business competent’ as well as having the more ‘traditional’ CRM capabilities, which could be very important as there is increased convergence and consolidation.
MicroStrategy’s background was in providing professional services to support Business Intelligence solutions, an area where they were very strong. More recently they have build up their own product line combining analytic and operational customer relationship management capabilities, unifying in real time all inbound and outbound interactions with customers as well as providing campaign measurement and real time personalisation. The platform has been internet-designed from the ground up and is based on a server-centric XML architecture.
MicroStrategy were amongst the first to commit to multi-channel delivery, in particular wireless, as their site strategy.com, which provides personalised content aggregation for wireless devices, testifies.
Business Intelligence, analytics, personalisation, multi-channel information and insight delivery / management
Commerce; not an enterprise CRM solution – focuses on being a multi-channel e-business platform
MicroStrategy is making a strong stake to lay claim of what they call ‘the decade of the voice’. Their strategy.com site gives an idea of where they see themselves and the market going – personalised voice content activated and managed via the web. It will be interesting to see how they compete with a squeeze from the e-business platforms such as BroadVision and Vignette on the one side and the CRM heavyweights on the other.
*The e-crowd – from e-mail and e-commerce to e-CRM and e-business*
Vignette sits in the same e-business content / commerce / personalisation group as ATG and BroadVision among others. Vignette has benefited from early entry into this market and strong capabilities in content production and delivery. The acquisition of DataSage greatly enhanced Vignette’s analytics strengths, further bolstered as it OEMs NetPerceptions’ collaborative filtering technology.
Similarly to BroadVision, Vignette offers packaged solutions such as B2B exchanges, although Vignette positions itself more as a platform than a provider of ‘out of a box’ packaged solutions which BroadVision does more of. For e-commerce Vignette has typically partnered with commerce providers such as IBM Web Sphere, BEA Weblogic, Openmarket, Transact and Intershop. Vignette also partners with the likes of Siebel to integrate into existing CRM solutions. Vignette is particularly dominant in the retail banking sector.
Personalisation, multi-platform content delivery and management
Commerce; heritage of proprietary technology; not an enterprise CRM solution – focuses on
being a multi-channel e-business platform
Vignette has been offering increasingly advanced and sector / industry specific solutions
across multiple digital channels. The question is how far their content management and e-business platform strengths can continue to allow them to grow and compete. In the short term this is still a fast growing market but as all things ‘e’ get subsumed back into core business operations where will this leave Vignette? For now, partnering with the likes of Siebel works fine, but will one of them have to swallow the other in the longer term? And how much room is there in the e-business platform market for the short term – can Vignette, BroadVision, ATG, Open Market, InterWorld et al all survive independently, or must there be consolidation?
Broadvision has built out from its core personalisation technology, first capitalising on the One-to-One marketing concepts popularised by Peppers and Rogers, to offer an industry-leading package integrating e-commerce, personalisation, analytics and content management. The core product, One-to-One Enterprise, has various incarnations to serve a number of specific markets including B2C and B2B market places as well as specific sectors such as Financial Services.
BroadVision’s acquisition of Interleaf provided strong XML content management and multi-channel distribution capabilities. BroadVision continues to partner with the likes of Broadbase and e.Piphany for more advanced analytical and personalisation capabilities such as collaborative filtering.
Market leading all-in-one content, commerce and personalisation platform for e-business
Expensive; One-to-One product has only recently migrated to Java-based standards
Kana, not dissimilarly to e.Gain, has grown from an e-mail management solution to offer many other aspects of customer interaction and contact management such as call center integration, online voice and web customer servicing, chat, instant messaging. Most of these capabilities have been acquired since Kana’s incorporation in 1996.
Kana benefited from their acquisition of Silknet providing key technology to broaden their proposition based on a platform using open standards and protocols and built from the ground up using an n-tier internet architecture. Key capabilities added include customer interaction management across multiple channels e.g. customer preferences, interaction history, support requests, order status etc.
Open, standards-based internet architecture; robust and rounded customer self-service and
interaction management solutions; artificial intelligence engine
Focus on customer self service aspects of CRM; weak content / commerce management capabilities
In just 5 years Kana has grown from a simple e-mail management solution to a company
whose ambition is to provide a multichannel communications framework enabling enterprise relationship management. Despite the Silknet acquisition, it is debatable how far Kana can really consider themselves an enterprise solution. As they try to position themselves as the end-to-end e-business service offering they will come up against behemoths like Siebel. Should make for an interesting struggle.
e.Gain’s offers strong inbound and outbound e-mail management capabilities and has been building further capabilities in online customer service and support including intelligent self-service, voice and chat traffic routing and interactive web collaboration.
e.Gain’s focus is very much customer service as opposed to marketing, personalisation or analytics.
Open, standards-based internet architecture; e-mail management; easy integration with
Missing strong analytics and AI engines; focus only on a small part of the overall CRM
picture; limited marketing capabilities
see Kana. One also has to wonder how many e-mail-to-eCRM-to-CRM companies can survive – how will e.Gain compete with Kana, will either or both acquire or be acquired? A
very similar shakedown looks set to happen here as in the Content Management / Commerce
e-business platform provider arena (see Vignette outlook).
e.Piphany’s background was in data analytics (cf. Microstrategy, Broadbase). Their purchase of Octane Software, however, has allowed them to bring together analytic and operational customer relationship management based on an n-tier internet architecture for managing customer interactions and capturing users’ behavioural data.
Octane’s expertise in customer self-service, combined with e.Piphany’s core analytics strengths enables a web-based, intelligent CRM solution set that coordinates and unifies in real time all inbound and outbound interactions with customers as well as providing campaign measurement and real time personalisation (e.Piphany acquired Rightpoint in 2000 for their real-time personalisation engine). This combination of analytic applications, with personalization, interaction management and transactional processing makes a compelling story.
Unique combination of analytics and customer management; personalisation; open, standards-based n-tier internet architecture
Not an enterprise level CRM solution e.g. sales and marketing automation not core competencies.
e.Piphany are currently in an interesting middle ground. It looks like they’re taking on the big boys. Their management team certainly comprises of big boys (ex-Oracle, KPMG etc.) and the release of E.5 gives them a product set to compete. However, they are not cheap (like the big boys) and don’t have the same existing big client traction that the incumbent big boys do. That said, the end of 2000 saw e.Piphany do a deal with Sun (having been a Microsoft-only house until then) and 2001 has kicked off well with Time Customer Service and VerticalNet as key customer wins.
ATG’s offer is not dissimilar to that of BroadVision’s although partners are often used for the workflow, publishing and collaborative authoring features that a content management application such as Interwoven or Documentum bring. The Dynamo e-Business Platform has strong commerce and personalisation capabilities, similar to BroadVision’s strengths, and has the advantage of having been Java based for longer and J2EE Certified.
Personalisation and Commerce; integrated e-business platform
Content Management; not an enterprise CRM solution
This Vendor Review is part of a White Paper that I will soon be publishing "eCRM meets CRM: an Executive Briefing". This will cover many other topics: definitions, the market place, strategies and tactics, trends etc.
If you'd like to know when this is published so you can get a free copy, e-mail me at
19 September 2008 06:40am
Have a try and go for CRM designed by enterprise wizard. These guys provide custome solution and by demo I used it was impressive. But since you are the expert why dont you analyize it and help us increase our options.
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