The customer relationship management (CRM) market is bloated, Forrester reports — surprising no one. And this big, bulky market is led by three tech giants: Salesforce, SAP CRM and Oracle Siebel, with two more, Microsoft and Pegasystems, snapping at their heels.

The one thing that stands out in Forrester's recently published Wave for CRM Suites for Large Organizations in the first quarter of 2015 is that nothing much is new: we've seen most of these trends in the space before.

Market Consolidation

There is one notable exception. According to report author Kate Leggett, the market has matured and converged as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Today, all the CRM leaders provide just about all the necessary functionality.

In a blog post she noted that Oracle has been focusing on end-to-end customer experience across all customer touchpoints and that SAP provides a broad set of features from built up through actuation activity.

For its part, Salesforce has spent considerable time building out its Service Cloud and has broadened its CRM footprint with the 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing automation.

The leaders have developed a number specific strengths that are carrying them forward. This trend will continue in the future as the larger vendors continue their buying sprees to fill gaps in their portfolios or redefine their strategic directions. 

Forrester defines CRM as "business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers."

Enterprises are using to develop efficiencies across sales, marketing and customer service organizations when interacting with customers. The result is that even in recent months two thirds of technology decision makers have bought at least some capabilities, including:

  • Customer service and support solution (CSS): 41 percent
  • Sales force automation (SFA): 34 percent
  • Marketing automation: 26 percent

Forrester's CRM Leaders

Forrester ranked nine CRM suites for large organizations — Infor CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite, Oracle (Siebel CRM), Pegasystems, Salesforce, SAP (SAP Cloud for Customer and SAP CRM), and SugarCRM. On the basis of 95 criteria, it selected six leaders.

1. Salesforce

Salesforce’s leadership is built on what Forrester describes as clear vision coupled with sound execution. Its SaaS-only application offers mobile support and good user experience, as well as marketing automation capabilities through its Marketing Cloud.

Forrester criticized its business analysis tools as well as its e-commerce capabilities.

2. SAP CRM

SAP CRM supports end-to-end customer engagement and commerce experiences. It offers consistent experiences across all channels throughout the entire customer journey and in real time.

However, Forrester said customers perceive it as an expensive option with long deployment times. SAP is attempting to address this with its new Cloud for Customer offerings, as well as streamlined solutions that provide CRM capabilities.

3. Oracle Siebel CRM

Oracle delivers complete customer life-cycle solutions that enable organizations create and manage customer experiences across all channels, devices and customer touchpoints.

While this vision is a solid one, Forrester said it requires a large number of products to be integrated for success.Enterprises also view it as an expensive solution with lengthy deployment times.

4. Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM is a cost-effective CRM that offers users connections to real-time information as well as access to that information at home, at work and on the go, Forrester said.

It scored high marks for usability along with strong reporting, analytics, and customer data management for private and public sectors.

5. Pegasystems

Pegasystems uses its strength in the business process management and case management space to manage the customer journey in real time and across communication channels using predictive analytics for next-best-actions scenarios.

While customers perceive it as an expensive solution, Forrester noted that it offers quantifiable returns on investment based on process improvements and customer satisfaction.

6. SAP Cloud for Customer

Released in 2012, Forrester stated that this product has strong customer data management and business intelligence, backed by sound technology and architecture. It  offers modern user experiences and mobility support.

However, it has weak marketing and customer service capabilities, Forrester claimed.