CRM market leader Salesforce and top-tier competitors Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle and SAP are tweaking their CRM product portfolios.
Salesforce has unveiled the Lightning Experience, which comes first to the Sales Cloud, its flagship CRM product. It is said to have been built from the ground up with feedback from thousands of customers. The Lightning Experience combines a new user interface with best practices that enable salespeople to work faster and smarter. In addition, Lightning has at least 25 new features designed for how salespeople sell.
"With the reimagined experience, Salesforce Lightning enables users to work quickly and efficiently, with a modern, consumer-like experience to a range of devices, from a desktop computer or tablet to an Apple Watch," said Sean Alpert, senior director, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce.
While the Dynamics CRM umbrella would appear to give unification to the Microsoft CRM offerings, the picture still seems a little confused. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Parature from Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Microsoft Social Engagement are the company’s business applications that enable companies to market smarter, sell effectively and productively, said Angela Bandlow, senior director, Product Marketing, Dynamics CRM. While they are available in the cloud and on-premise, it would appear that more work is needed to slim down the number of brands and products. That said, Microsoft just acquired another couple of companies in this space: FieldOne, a provider of field service management, and FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform.
A release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM earlier this year stressed intelligent customer engagement. This included its integration with Office 365; a social center where marketing, sales and service teams can monitor social topics; an identical user experience across mobile devices, including a "configure once, deploy everywhere" model; PowerBI Connectors added for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing; and integration with Parature for knowledge management.
"We advise customers to carefully consider how intuitive is the user experience, how well will it scale and how easy is it to adjust to the needs of the business as a vital part of the selection process," said Bandlow. "For those starting with a single departmental application, we urge them to consider early on how they will eventually get to an end-to-end customer engagement solution."
SAP characterizes itself as offering a complete customer engagement and commerce platform with full omni-channel capabilities. SAP hybris Marketing is said to transform marketing to provide a personalized experience for customers in the moment when it really matters to them. The system stores granular elements of customer behavior such as profile information, social media posting, website clicks and reviews and meshes that with existing enterprise data to determine the context of customer interaction in real-time, using the computational power of the HANA in-memory platform. This enables personalization of website content or product recommendations.
SAP Cloud for Sales and SAP Cloud for Service are subscription services optimized for tablets and smartphones. Also powered by SAP HANA, they use predictive models and analytics to provide users with actionable information whenever they access the systems. This is backed up by industry-specific capabilities for 15 industries.
"The user expectation on a mobile device is completely different than what is expected on a desktop," said Volker Hildebrand, vice president of Strategy, Customer Engagement and Commerce for SAP and hybris. "Companies should evaluate the full mobile experience of CRM systems as part of their due diligence to ensure that they get maximum adoption, especially by sales professionals who are now relying on mobile."
Oracle is another one of those vendors with a lot going on in CRM. It appears to focus on the Oracle Sales Cloud but also offers the Oracle Marketing Cloud, the Oracle Service Cloud and other products. But it has slimmed things down a bit by taking Siebel Sales off the table, at least for new customers. It will continue to support its existing and quite large Siebel user base. Gartner thinks it would compete better and more broadly if it combined its cloud CRM-related offerings into one more encompassing product.
According to Gartner, Sales Cloud takes advantage of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) for analytics and is aggressively priced. Oracle also recently acquired Maxymiser, a provider of cloud-based software for marketers to test, target and personalize Web pages and mobile apps. While this may improve the range of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, it adds further integration headaches to a somewhat dispersed product portfolio.