Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
Oh, wait, you probably think that I’m talking about which companies to watch in 2010. Nah. I already made those decisions. I’m talking about how to deliver the list. Should I do it the splitscreen method? One big post? Several parts?
Well, I’ve made my decision. Three parts, over a few days. Broken out in the following way:
Part 1 – The 4 Majors – that would be Oracle, salesforce.com, SAP, and Microsoft
Part II – The Annual Locks – that would be companies like….RightNow, NetSuite etc. These are companies that are pretty well assured to make it year after year because they think in terms of progress. And they play in the CRM world – now Social CRM.
Part III – The Newbies – Those that didn’t make it last year to the main list. There will be some big surprises here. BIG surprises. And remember this is a companies to watch list, not a companies to love list. It might be watch for an implosion. Might.
As a guest part of the forecast, we’re going to have one or two pundits give me a sentence or two on their take on the companies. Brent Leary, however, will do his CRM SMB companies to watch which may overlap with mine but there may be different opinions.
Additionally, I’ll name a check back in 6 mos list which will be a linked list and no more than that. They are companies that intrigue me but as far as I’m concerned, not quite there yet, but are likely to be in 6 mos.
As for the companies that dropped off the list from 2009, I’ll leave it for you to go back and compare what I said then and where they got in 2009. They are off the list because one way or the other they didn’t meet my expectations – though that doesn’t mean they did badly. If you want to know why they did (or if you’re the vendor, why you did) drop off, feel free to call, tweet, comment here, email me)
This part is on the Big 4. Why we should be watching them in 2010. What reasons they are on this list. What to expect.
For gods sakes, PLEASE don’t ignore my pleas for two things – a thumbs up or down rating (you see that at the top of this on ZDNet at least) and more importantly, comments including companies I should have included and WHY I should have included them. Who would you include? But give the reasons, not the sales pitch. Please? Please? Pleeeeeeeeease?
Okay on to the show here.
These are not being ranked so the order is meaningless.
2010 is going to be an interesting year for SAP. As I noted in my SAP Business Influencer’s Conference analysis if they are going to begin to regain some of the market, especially in the on demand and cloud worlds, which they claim a total commitment to, they are going to have to clarify their overall message. Regain might be the wrong word here – gain more appropriate. They not only will have to decide what they are going to be to the market but how they are going to approach their own product/services portfolio (I won’t say “what they want to be when they grow up” since they are grown up and that as a general rule, is a sappy literary turn of phrase). I have some definite differences with the efficacy of the message they seem to be presenting which you can read in the above analysis.
But there is much more here than their message. I’ve seen a release of SAP CRM 7.0 and it is a clear improvement over their first real CRM market asskicker which was SAP CRM 2007. SAP CRM 7.0 is a very, very good app with a couple of flaws, most notably what I think was (at least when I saw it) badly executed territory management functionality. However, that said, the overall CRM 7.0 app is not only strong in traditional sales and customer service functionality (I didn’t see the marketing pieces) but also has integrated social channels such as Twitter and Facebook and allowed for other channels through customization that is not hard to do. They also have, gasp of all gasps, a very attractive, user friendly, “even-better-than-the-Google-white-interface-of-SAP-CRM-2007,” user interface that allows for personalization of the workspace through individualized widget selection and through just arrangement of what you want to see and view including feeds and dashboards, or, say, current opportunities that need to be acted on.
But, this is about the company in 2010, not the product. We’re going to be reviewing the product among many others in 2010. Watch for an interesting announcement in the 1st quarter sometime about what I mean when I say “we.”
Okay, onward and upward.
One area that I (and others) think has done SAP very well and will continue to be a market mover for them is their acquisition of Business Objects. From a CRM standpoint there are several products of importance that come from B.O. First their integration of Twitter with Business Insight which provides a strong sentiment analysis/text analysis of meaningful Twitter streams and attaches business rules and workflow so that alerts and routing at the enterprise level based on the Twitter sentiment can be done, Second the use of Business Objects Explorer which they’ve made the analytics engine associated with their “in memory model” computing. It does lightning fast, near real or real time calculations (we saw 275 million data rows “figured out” in less than a second) and an actually accomplished on demand product with Business Objects Business Intelligence On Demand.
But for them to regain ground that I think they lost in the CRM world in 2009, they need to figure out who they are fast and make a far better case for their commitment to the cloud and on demand then they have. While not strictly a CRM related effort, their release of Business By Design this year will be critical to their “reinvention.” They’re already at version 2.5 which they call a “feature pack” not a release (I guess because it hasn’t been released. Duh.). It seems to be fully functional and yet pinning them to an actual release date is a bit of a chore. They have a theoretical 100 customers now, which places them well behind the on demand curve – at a distance they may never catch up if they don’t get down and dirty and take a calculated shot at releasing this elusive product. If they don’t they will suffer cross-enterprise, including CRM, because of their publicly stated commitment to SaaS and the cloud – at least as a hybrid (also Oracle’s strategy). And, honestly, I don’t know that they will release it, which, at this point, puts them in the “enough but too late” and “I’m still a skeptic” category.
On the CRM side, to their credit, they are following some of the trends they need to. They have a major commitment to mobile. They have a REST API which smacks of mobile technology love. They have an alliance with Sybase and the Sybase iAnywhere platform which gives them the ability to “translate” content on the mobile fly regardless of operating system. They have a partnership with Syclos which gives them a highly configurable field service mobile app that focuses on asset & service management. They have their Blackberry SFA app, which was developed by RIM in a breakthrough collaboration by SAP and released in May 2009, about a year after the initial announcement. In this domain, nothing could be clearer re: their commitment – and its CRM impact.
2010 for SAP at least when it comes to CRM is a watershed year. They have three things they’re going to have to do to jump forward. First, the company has to clarify who they are and commit to that vision and mission. Second, they need a MUCH better marketing and messaging effort around CRM 7.0 despite their apocryphal “someday three letter acronyms will disappear” thrust taken at the SAP Business Influencers Summit (yeah, that’ll happen soon) This part of their work has been muddied at best, poorly managed at worst. But CRM 7.0 needs to have top of the class visibility, since it could be a flagship for SAP (even without my biases, I can see that.) Third, they need to release Business By Design, even without a CRM component so that their commitment to SaaS at least is seen as something serious, because it isn’t easy to see at this point. For our purposes a CRM 7.0 campaign and release is something that makes or breaks their position in the CRM industry and with customers, in 2010. Its a big year for these guys. They lost ground in 2009 and need to make it up in 2010.
The last year has been game changing for Oracle when it comes to Social CRM. While they initiated their effort in 2008, what they called Social CRM then was really more Enterprise 2.0 and sales optimization functionality with their announcement of Sales Prospector, Sales Library and Sales Campaign. The only thing they did that approximated actual Social CRM – meaning it provided a pipe for customer engagement was the mobile loyalty stuff they did with L’Oreal, which allowed customers to provide and get UGC via comments, ratings, rankings etc on the consumer ‘Net. But in 2009, their road map and releases this year were spot on when it comes to the pulse of the public and business and were more along what we expect Social CRM technology to be. During OpenWorld 2009, they announced, a number of key applications including one from left field that I personally would never have seen coming. They announced a toolkit that worked with Siebel customer data (transactional one must presume) that seemed to be one of the first realized applications that is using social characteristics – in this case ” Connect to someone like me” access for customers using Siebel data. They aren’t the only company using transactional data to figure out and score who is “like me.” SAS in their Customer Intelligence analytics is entirely capable of doing that. But the fact that they are taking the social customers seriously throughout their entire CRM organization is actually refreshing.
What makes Oracle a no longer so surprising contender for leadership in the Social CRM realm is that their CRM organization is committed to innovation and is committed to it from thought leadership (mindshare) to product development and marketing (market share). Is that a company wide trait? Not to my knowledge but their CRM team sure gets it.
Top this off with Anthony Lye’s selection by CRM Magazine as a key influencer in 2009. Then the cherry? CRM is Oracle’s most successful revenue producer in 2009. In the words of Adam Sandler in his Chanukkah song “not too shabby.” (look right here with 58 seconds to go.)
What are the pitfalls? Well, there are a couple that can make Oracle “someone less than like me.” First, they have to actually release all these things they are showing and don’t do what the Big boys often do, which is endless beta cycles. Put it on an accelerator program if need be and get it out and iterate, iterate, iterate, with the customers. Let the customers point out the production flaws. This is an area where SAP does very very well, and Oracle not as well. I get what their corporative imperatives are, god knows and understand we don’t live in a pure world. But there does come a time when the customers need to know you’re real, and the social customer is that much more demanding than they were five, six years ago. Releasing these products and not just endless roadmaps would go a long way to slaking that social customer thirst.
Second, align the cloud messaging coming from Larry Ellison with what the benefits of the cloud to Oracle actually are. His mockery, while ha-ha funny, as you can see from the Churchill Club video, isn’t appropriate if Oracle wants to be successful in 2010. Like every company with deep on premise commitments, no one is going to fault Oracle for a hybrid model. SAP has one too. Microsoft sort of has one. As Ray Wang, one of the most respected and well liked analysts in the enterprise world recently said on a video interview with Robert Scoble and his Altimeter Group partner, Jeremiah Owyang, “on premise information, that’s not gonna go away. But all the edges, best of breed solutions…what you can do to move infrastructure costs, that’s moving into the cloud.” (BTW, if Ray says it, listen to it BIG TIME) But Larry needs to realize that regardless of his pronouncements, not only is the cloud here to stay but is of increasing interest to many of his major customers. I’m not speaking of the CRM group here. They are down with that already.
In 2010, then, they have to deliver their roadmap and kick up their efforts in the cloud to maintain a leading position in CRM.
I’m just sayin’…