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Gartner customer service Magic Quadrant tackles social media, cloud

Gartner reports companies adopting social CRM and SaaS-based CRM, but they are doing so with some measure of caution.

By now, many companies have their hands in social CRM and Software as a Service (SaaS)-based CRM. But that doesn’t mean they are using it for their core operations -- yet.  

The recently released Gartner Inc. 2011 Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers shows activity in social media and SaaS computing  is on the rise, but there also is evidence of lingering user caution.

Gartner reports that 50% of its clients will be using some kind of social media application as part of their CRM installations by 2013. In fact, that number was upped from the prediction in the 2010 Magic Quadrant report. At that time, Gartner said about 35% of its clients would deploy a social or community participation component to its CRM platform by 2013.

“It has actually accelerated,” Gartner’s Michael Maoz, said of the social CRM activity. Maoz is a Gartner distinguished analyst and author of this Magic Quadrant report. “I am not saying this is a sea change, but more clients are looking to do something,” he added.

Maoz said companies conducting some form of social CRM activity are doing a range of applications, including basic Twitter monitoring.

Maoz’s research also showed that by next year about 10% of customer service centers will have “attempted” a sophisticated social CRM application, such as providing agents with real-time access to a view of customer activity, such as on Facebook.

“This will be an evolution,’’ Maoz added to describe the adoption of social CRM implementations.

Meanwhile, the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm’s data shows SaaS-based CRM will continue to be embraced and, by 2013, at least 75% of customer service centers will use some form of a SaaS application in their contact centers. These SaaS implementations will be for such applications as knowledge management, desktop CRM functionality, feedback management and chat.

However, Gartner also noted that there is some resistance to SaaS for CRM in several segments, including certain geographic areas and countries with particular concerns over data privacy; national and federal government agencies as well as health care organizations that must comply with regulations; and those complex business environments with very high call volumes and transaction volumes.

In addition to highlighting market trends, the Gartner Magic Quadrant assesses the CRM competitive landscape. It presents the research in a quadrant graphic with each of the four segments within it representing a market segment -- niche players, visionaries, challengers and leaders.  

The leader category is made up of companies that demonstrate the most complete product vision as well as ability to execute on its plans.  

This year, Oracle (Siebel), RightNow,, Microsoft and Pegasystems ranked in the leadership segment of the quadrant.

These companies are identified as leaders because they have “marketing-defining vision’’ and are able to execute against that plan. Their customers report that using their chosen software has boosted their competitive standing in their markets and helped them cut costs. A key characteristic of a leader is a company that has customers looking to it for answers on how it can improve its customer service.

SAP remained in the challenger’s box, where it was a year ago, although Gartner reports seeing improvements in its efforts to penetrate in the non-SAP prospect base.

The niche category included Amdocs, Sword Ciboodle, Nice Systems, Oracle (E-Business Suite), Pitney Bowes and Astute Solutions. These companies are identified as offering noteworthy products that provide something unique to a vertical market space. In some cases, they may not offer a full portfolio of products or they may be regionally focused.

For the second year in a row, no company landed in the visionary segment.


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