Forrester study finds that buyers are demanding easier integration, faster return on investment and better support from vendors COMPANIES that spend millions on customer relationship management products and services are a largely dissatisfied bunch, as most of their purchases fail to fulfil their desire for easier integration and better vendor support, according to a Forrester Research report.

Buyers expressed discontent over the level of business benefits that CRM brings to their enterprises, and said they want faster return on investments and better support from vendors.

The finding doesn`t bode well for the four major CRM companies, Siebel Systems, Oracle, Amdocs, and , that together will share the bulk of the estimated $13 billion that enterprises worldwide are forecast to spend on CRM initiatives in 2005.

The study finds that buyers are dissatisfied with CRM investments on multiple levels.

A survey of 94 business and IT executives found that:
* Only 29% of executives surveyed are satisfied with how easily CRM applications integrate with existing data applications and sources.
* Only 34% of respondents said they were happy with customer support from CRM software vendors after purchasing applications and services.
* Less than 50% said their expectations have been met and that they are "fully satisfied".

To help companies make smart CRM investment decisions, Forrester Research has released a new Forrester Wave that evaluates and ranks four major CRM players - Amdocs, Oracle, SAP, and Siebel Systems.

"Selection of a CRM vendor is a marriage, not a date," says William Band, a consulting analyst with Forrester Research. "Enterprise buyers must think carefully about the vendor partner they choose and understand the long-term commitment of these decisions."

He adds: "Average enterprise-class CRM licence deals can cost more than $600 000 and, over the next year, companies will spend an estimated $3.2 billion on CRM licence costs alone. In addition, they will incur costs involving hardware purchases, software integration, maintenance, and the administrative expenses for managing new IT assets. Big money is at risk."

While there are several choices of CRM vendors, ranging from licensed vendors serving enterprises to hosted CRM vendors using a software-as-a-service model, Forrester chose to evaluate enterprise CRM suites delivered through an on-premise licensed arrangement. The report evaluates the four leading vendors based on 177 criteria grouped in three categories - current offering, product strategy, and market presence. Forrester`s findings show that while all four vendors` CRM suites offer advantages, companies must choose the best fit for their specific needs. Overall, Forrester found that:
* Siebel continues to offer the most comprehensive solution-set for enterprise-class organisations, with the largest array of front-office solutions tailored to specific industry challenges and opportunities.
* SAP, through mySAP CRM, has emerged with increasing momentum. The company is investing heavily to fill out its product suite and offers buyers end-to-end business process solutions.
* Oracle`s recent acquisition of PeopleSoft gives the combined entity full coverage of all major CRM functionalities and a larger, more industry-balanced customer base on which to build.
* Amdocs offers a flexible application with deep customer service functionality, scalability, and profound knowledge of the communications services providers and high-tech industries. The company offers an end-to-end solution by integrating customer-facing relationship management with the important customer billing process.

Tags: CRM