Unpack the Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, and Challengers in core CRM solutions
CX market analyst Forrester has published its 2022 Wave for Core CRM Solutions (Q2).
With 84 percent of software decision-makers at enterprises and 77 percent at SMBs noting that they already use or plan to use a CRM, as per Forrester, the software has become a cornerstone business technology.
Yet, as with most enterprise software, there are many options.
Thankfully, Forrester analyses 11 of the most prominent core CRM vendors after offering a clear-cut definition of the technology.
According to Forrester: “Core CRM is a foundational front-office technology for managing customer relationships that places customer obsession goals within reach.”
As such, a core CRM facilitates service, sales, and marketing activities by creating a unified customer view, which includes conversation and purchase history. It may also feature soft data, such as sentiment or satisfaction scores across the customer lifecycle.
Such data powers many automation, collaboration, and engagement initiatives, the sophistication of which often hinges on the core CRM vendor.
On this note, Forrester recommends that CRM customers leverage providers that:
Assessing possible vendors against such criteria is tricky. Fortunately, Forrester lends a helping hand with a 35 criterion evaluation that divides vendors into four categories: Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, and Challengers. Here, we review them all.
Forrester Wave Leaders showcase a compelling current offering and go-forward strategy that allows them to stand out within a crowded space. This year’s Leaders are:
According to Forrester: “Microsoft paves the way with data-driven, insights-first customer engagement.” Moreover, the analyst lauds its capabilities that include low-code tooling, AI-fuelled next-best actions, and automations for routine front-office tasks. Also very innovative how Teams sits within Dynamics, enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing with CRM and non-CRM users.
A vision to deliver a complete solution – not technology innovation alone – drives Salesforce forwards. Forrester admires this, alongside its Slack-infused CRM use cases, digital sales capabilities, and low-code/no-code tooling. Finally, the analyst suggests that most successful Salesforce-driven transformation projects come when the vendor plays the role of a strategic partner.
Oracle offers a deep core CRM offering that excels in connecting organizational siloes. While noting this, the analyst also commends its quickly evolving user experience, unified analytics engine, and the vendor’s support for complex sales scenarios. Such scenarios include AI-driven forecasting, bookings, and the collection of behavioral data.
Pegasystems aims to offer an autonomous CRM that tackles monotonous, repetitive work through automation that increases enterprise efficiency. In striving to meet this vision, the vendor has developed “exceptional automation and process management within its CRM,” as per Forrester. It also excels in its real-time analytics, allowing companies to anticipate customer needs proactively.
Forrester Wave Strong Performers may fall short of industry leaders. However, these vendors offer impressive use cases and an intriguing future strategy. This year’s Strong Performers are:
While others may stoop over Creatio in their global presence, the vendor offers a robust, low-code CRM that Forrester describes as “truly composable.” Its vision to develop disruptive digital workflows across industries – while providing a choice of channels, personalized options, and coordinated CX – also impresses the analyst. Yet, it could perhaps extend its marketplace.
Forrester considers SAP’s enterprise-grade core functions, deep integrations with back-office solutions, and renewals management processes as significant strengths. As its solutions evolve, the provider aims to offer an industry-first CRM focus, offering a more extensive suite of front- and back-office applications. However, the analyst warns that SAP has too slowly moved to digital and AI.
Tying together Sugar Sell and Sugar Serve on a single platform, SugarCRM aims to “automate work, accelerate engagement, and predict what’s next.” In striving towards the objective, it has developed impressive no-code process automation, pipeline inspection, and journey visualization tools. Nevertheless, Forrester recommends that the vendor enhances its conversational intelligence capabilities and support for newer digital channels.
Forrester Wave Contenders offer a track record of delivering value to customers for specific use cases, despite lagging Leaders and Strong Performers. This year’s Contenders are:
According to Forrester, Zendesk’s “digital engagement capabilities shine.” These include its widescale channel support, rules-driven chatbots, and pervasive automation. As these strengths suggest, many of its best features are in the customer service space. However, the analyst recommends that Zendesk enhances its real-time intelligence and process management elements.
Zoho has built a significant presence with its intense focus on making regional sales and growing its global product operations. Its most considerable strengths include a new user interface for sales teams, AI-driven customer data analysis, and its recommendation engine. Nevertheless, Forrester advises improvements to its core reporting capabilities, mobile capabilities, and feature depth.
Achieving a 40% year-over-year growth, HubSpot is well established at the forefront of the core CRM space. Its intense focus on content creation is perhaps the biggest reason for this, although Forrester commends how it harnesses conversational intelligence to surface coaching insights. Meanwhile, reference clients enjoy its ease of deployment. However, they do wish to better reporting and customization capabilities.
Forrester Wave Challengers provide a well-liked offering, despite falling behind the chasing pack. After all, by making it into the report, they have established a significant global brand presence. This year’s challengers are:
Freshworks has increased its upmarket momentum in 2022, with its native customer data platform (CDP) enabling a 360-degree view of the customer. It also provides a “robust” software development kit and selection of APIs. Nonetheless, Forrester states that “some parts must mature.” The analyst also suggests that Freshworks should extend its packaged AI scenarios while enhancing its reporting and dashboarding.
Traditionally, CRM is a foundational technology for marketing, sales, and service teams. Yet, as CX success increasingly hinges on how companies exploit customer data, CRM is starting to seep into other realms of the business.
The growth of UC systems connecting the enterprise – enabling easier CRM data sharing – is also increasing its value and facilitating a more customer-centric business philosophy. Moreover, it paves the way for CRM data-driven workflows across the business.
How Microsoft connects its CRM with Teams and how Salesforce does so with Slack is an excellent example of this. As such, these companies may continue to differentiate their market-leading CRM solutions.
Nonetheless, many more emerging trends – such as social integrations, embedded analytics, and IoT innovation – are helping redefine the CRM space.
By incorporating these into their go-forward strategy, other vendors may evolve their offerings to catch up with market leaders like Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and Pegasystems.
Uncover Forrester’s findings when it assessed journey orchestration platforms providers by reading our rundown of the Forrester Wave for Journey Orchestration Platforms 2022