Datamonitor suggests Oracle, SAP likely to remain atop CRM market

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Despite growing competition in the CRM application space - including the pending arrival of a new Microsoft solution - current leaders Oracle and SAP should remain the top choices for IT decision makers going forward, a new report by Datamonitor concludes.

Datamonitor's Vuk Trifkoviµ, author of "Decision Matrix: Selecting a CRM Vendor" spoke about how market changes would effect software purchasing in the upcoming years.

"Going forward this is going to be decided less on basic style and functionality because my sense is by now most of the major vendors have already worked out very similar sets of basic things they cover."

With companies, large and small, quickly shifting away from a short-term focus on the next sale and toward developing and nurturing long-term relationships with customers, CRM vendors have had to adapt the products to provide software suites and modules that give companies a single analytical view of customers across multiple channels of interaction.

Oracle-Siebel has the ability to do closed-loop analytics and have the analytical tools to do really targeted direct campaigns.

"There are other vendors who are very good for marketing as well," Trifkoviae said. "Chordiant is one which does really well on the technical tools for marketing functions. Not only do they do analytics, but they're also interoperable with some of advance analytics providers as well.

"CRM vendors, whose solutions can support a long-term strategic approach to customer relationship strategies, based on nurturing relationships with the customer instead on focusing on the transaction itself, will be in a strong position" added Trifkoviµ.

The report notes that global spending on CRM applications will reach $6.6 billion annually in five years, providing plenty of opportunities, not just for Oracle and SAP, but also for a host of smaller rivals, including Chordiant, Infor and Salesforce.com.

Trifkoviµ also says the biggest potential change agent in the CRM space would be the successful launch of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, code-named Titan, set to rollout this summer.

"The new release of Microsoft is going to appeal to either companies that rely on one set of CRM modules or who rely on heavy updates, which are small and medium enterprises," Trifkoviae said.

"The biggest play is Microsoft's ability to integrate this with Microsoft's Office production suites, because that's where the issue of up-take is more important, as people don't have the resources to train properly, so the quick up-take will be very convenient for them. This release will also be much more flexible in deployment..." he continued.

Trifkoviµ added he wouldn't be surprised to see a staggered deployment from Microsoft, with the full suite available on-premise or hosted before it becomes available fully on-demand.

But the report suggests none of these competitors are likely to knock off Oracle as market leader. Thanks to its acquisitions of Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft, Oracle can now offer a staggering array of CRM products to match virtually any IT need, Trifkoviµ says, adding, "Oracle's CRM offering will be improved, both through incremental best-of-breed feature cross-fertilization and its ambitious project of re-engineering a completely new solution, based on its Fusion platform."

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