A year ago, some of SearchCRM.com's best and brightest experts shared their predictions for the CRM market in 2007. While not all of the predictions played out as expected, it's worth looking back on the year to discuss how well CRM vendors lived up to expectations and how technology trends like self-service, speech analytics, Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile CRM and Web 2.0 affected customers and the CRM landscape. This two-part series examines the CRM market in 2007. In part one, read insight from Forrester's Bill Band, Strategic Contact's Lori Bocklund, DMG Consulting's Donna Fluss, and Sheryl Kingstone of The Yankee Group. Part two of the CRM market in 2007 series will feature insight from The Yankee Group's Ken Landoline, Beagle Research's Denis Pombriant, and John Ragsdale of the SSPA.
Bill Band, vice president and principal analyst, business process and applications, Forrester Research:
SearchCRM.com: Last year, you predicted that Oracle would pursue a full court press in the CRM market in 2007 and said they were intent on sustaining Siebel's historical leadership position in the CRM market. Did this happen as expected?
Band: Oracle absorbed Siebel this year, developing Siebel 8.0, which included new functionality, and they added new elements to [bring] it in line with Fusion. They did what [we] expected there, but they don't seem to be taking as much of a leadership stance in the market as they used to, so the market doesn't have any visionary thought leadership. They are focusing on the Oracle user base, and they're getting ready for Fusion. All of those things are necessary -- maybe not as exciting, but probably what the user base wants.
Lori Bocklund, president of Strategic Contact Inc.:
SearchCRM.com: A year ago, you predicted that 2007 would be "the year of the bundle" and that even smaller call centers would look to bundled products. Did that play out as you thought it would?
Bocklund: From [what I see in] our client base, I think there is a high-attraction factor to being able to buy a pre-integrated package from one vendor. Sometimes it's all from one vendor; in other cases, it's from one distributor that works with a set of vendors to bring the pieces together.
I think in fact the [smaller call centers] are the ones moving that way faster. They may not do it all at once, but they can get more things once at one price and through one evaluation process. [Of course], it doesn't always mean low cost, but it's about getting things that work well together.
SearchCRM.com: You also predicted that hosted products might find their niche in 2007. Did this happen?
Bocklund: There's still some interest in hosted; [hosted products] still have to be considered. A lot of the analysts still target it as high growth. Everybody looks at it, [but] not a whole lot of them want to go there yet. There are more mature bundles from premise-based vendors.
SearchCRM.com: What was the biggest surprise in the call center market this year?
Bocklund: Frustration [from call center customers] with poor-performing platforms and poor-performing support. I think that is a sad turn of events, when you have mission-critical operations and a history of rock-solid support. I think we need to start a rating system for calling out these vendors.
Why is this happening? [There's a] push for new technology, new architecture is changing support models and [some vendors are experiencing] fast growth – they can't keep up with what they are doing in the market, while making sure the products are rock solid and making sure the support is there. I hope this changes in 2008.
Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC:
SearchCRM.com: Last year, you predicted that 2007 would be the year of analytics. Were analytics applications adopted at the rate you'd have expected this year?
Fluss: 2007 was absolutely the year of analytics. These tools are playing an essential role in improving the performance and opening up call centers. They are providing great insight into what's happening, and they are also allowing the call center to be better at what it does.
There are quite a few barriers [to adopting analytics and other newer applications]. The vendors in many of these areas haven't done a very good job of [communicating] the value proposition to end users.
Contact centers have three goals. [The first two are] improving productivity and providing a great customer experience. We can't even go on to the third goal, contributing revenue, unless we meet the second goal. The answer is analytics.
SearchCRM.com: A year ago, you predicted that the call center would become a more strategic part of the enterprise in 2007. Did this happen as expected?
Fluss: The role of the call center continues to evolve. Within five to 10 years, the call center will be one of the most important revenue drivers in the enterprise. That's why call center performance management is so very valuable. It remains one of the most misunderstood call center applications, but it is going to become more important to extending the value of the call center into the enterprise.
Sheryl Kingstone, director of enterprise applications and mobility strategies at the Yankee Group:
SearchCRM.com: A year ago, you predicted that the mobile CRM market would grow in 2007. Did this happen as expected?
Kingstone: Absolutely. We hit a tipping point and we started seeing a lot more success and more RFPs. [We saw more organizations] incorporating it as a must-have item. [I think] it's just the beginning.
A lot of companies have invested in email or CRM that they want to maximize. [Plus] a lot of people are remote and mobile, so reaching out to the mobile workers and empowering them is critical. You can't bridge that gap without mobile CRM.
SearchCRM.com: Is this still a fragmented market? Do you see that changing in 2008?
Kingstone: I don't see it changing in the near future. I think the carriers need to step up to the plate and consider how they can meet the "anywhere" needs. And [I'm] really talking about anywhere access through different methods. Mobility is going to play a huge role in 2008.
Read part two of the CRM market in 2007 series, which will feature insight from The Yankee Group's Ken Landoline, Beagle Research's Denis Pombriant, and John Ragsdale of the SSPA.