As it does every year,Beagle Research has investigated emerging technologies and developments in the CRM space, singling out for accolades a handful of leading companies in its report — aptly named CRM WizKids.
This year, the report highlights eight winners: Cast Iron Systems, Centive, Echopass, Market2Lead, Pragmatech, Sapias, Electronic Arts’ customization of Salesforce.com, and Skytide.
“All of these companies are offering users technology or services that are completely new to the market,” Beagle Research principal and report author Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.
The On-Demand Wave
At face value, the companies have little in common, other than the fact that they are providers of point applications — as opposed to suites. However, after taking a closer look, several common themes do emerge, including the fact that many are leveraging on-demand and platform architecture to deliver new solutions to a specific field or task.
For instance, Sapias has developed an on-demand service to help utilities better segment how equipment and field services are used. Service trucks can be both equipment to be used in the field and for transportation, Pombriant explained, and gas for some of these tasks can be tax-deductible. The application tracks when a truck is used for such purposes.
Another example is Centive’s incentive compensation application, which replaces cumbersome spreadsheets — a typical tool in this space — with an on-demand product that also enables sales representatives and managers to track performance and actual commission earnings, as well as forecast earnings based on opportunities in the pipeline.
Some of the winners addressed seemingly perennial pain points for users of CRM systems.
Cast Iron Systems has developed a new approach to integration that allows companies to more easily knit together disparate on-demand applications, such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite, by predefining integration for popular applications and delivering it as an appliance.
Market2Lead has leveraged a combination of data collection from various sources such as e-mail campaigns, Web search and e-mail with analytics to build a multi-step marketing application.
Pragmatech has designed a sales knowledge management system that manages reusable content modules that can be easily configured for any type of corporate content, such as proposals, brochures or presentations.
Skytide’s application analyzes non-traditional data that typically does not fit within a standard data warehousing solution, such as situations with a large number of customer/client iterations.
Other WizKids this year have built advanced mashups that can provide more valuable services to companies than have been delivered up to now through these combinations. Typically, a mashup has been a combination of some kind of database application with a GPS-based mapping system, the report explained, with the most common mashup using satellite images from suppliers like Google Maps.
A next generation of mashups is on the horizon and already in use in some very selected areas, Pombriant stated.
“These companies have built mashups that deliver solutions different from anything that is on the market now,” he noted.
For instance, Echopass, an on-demand call center service provider, teamed up with SecureAlert to combine the Echopass 24/7/365 call center service capabilities with SecureAlert’s monitoring center to track parole or probation offenders.
Another example is EA’s customization of Salesforce.com to fit its human resources needs.
In short, by developing mashups, these firms have opened up whole new areas of business opportunities — which, when one thinks about it, is another common factor among the winners.