Technology research company Nucleus just released its bi-annual assessment of CRM applications and probably unsurprisingly, named Microsoft, Oracle and the leading vendors in the space.

While the breadth and functionality of their products are well known, there are others on the list that are less well-known and provide functionality that is less expansive or has lower market reach than the three leaders.

The CRM Technology Value Matrix from Nucleus is a bit like a lesser-known Gartner Magic Quadrant and in this case gives an overview of the CRM market as we head into 2012.

Again, like Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, there are a number of caveats that should be considered before taking the results at face value, and potential customers should examine all products before making any purchasing decisions.

Measuring ROI

The CRM Value Matrix is based on two core measures: functionality and usability. Nucleus says it uses these measures to assess applications' ability to deliver ROI and maximize the value of the investment over time.

  • Usability: Based on a number of factors including intuitiveness of the application, availability of role-based interfaces, training requirements and productivity impact on users.
  • Functionality: Based on the breadth and depth of functionality, availability and ease of integration with add-on functionality.

CRM Market Overview

Because of the competitive nature of the market at the moment, many vendors have started to add new functionality and features on an almost bi-annual basis to compliment the now standard features that support sales force automation, customer service and support.

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Nucleus' CRM Value Matrix

Most CRM vendors have by now developed extensive ecosystems of partners to add extra functionality either for a specific vertical or for a specific task. Key areas of development currently include social capabilities, marketing and web optimization, (particularly for business-to-consumer CRM), as well as sales effectiveness and enablement.

Competition will intensify in the coming year as enterprises reach the end-of-life of current technology contracts and cloud-based CRM vendors muscle in to pick up the new contracts.

Within Nucleus’ Matrix, three vendors fell into the leader’s quadrant in the Value Matrix, although 11 others are snapping very close at their heels.

The leaders include: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Oracle CRM On Demand.

1. Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Because of its Outlook and Office integration, its personalization and role-based view, Dynamics CRM has always scored highly. Its development of an online application marketplace that offers users better and quicker access to added CRM functionality has added considerable value to Dynamics CRM.

The recently released Q4 service updates come with activity feeds, microblogging, conversations and automated activity updates as well as other collaboration capabilities and adds to the overall value of the product from a functionality perspective.


Salesforce has added a considerable number of capabilities to its platform over the course of the year, including the October upgrade of Chatter that offered presence monitoring, integrations with instant messaging and screen sharing.

It also added a REST API that enabled Chatter to integrate with other enterprise collaboration platforms, which will be particularly useful given that SharePoint is now present in 70% of enterprises. For sales and marketing, it extended its Jigsaw integration with Dun & Bradstreet data, giving users easier access to customer and profile data.

With mobility key in sales departments, it added, which allows users to deploy applications and run them on any device that is HTML5 enabled.

Salesforce also announced social enterprise licensing. Its goal is to drive the adoption of technology beyond core CRM users and encourage clients to experiment with social technologies without having to adjust their existing licensing arrangements.

3. Oracle CRM On Demand

With Release 19 in July, Oracle has continued to expand its functionality footprint and now delivers integration of the full marketing automation functionality it bought with the Market2Lead acquisition last year. Release 19 also included dynamic content suggestion as well as Outlook integration, enhanced functionality for a number of specific verticals and additional mobile functionality.

Nucleus says it expects to see the InQuira acquisition come into play over the next few months, which should add better customer self-service and Web support capabilities. 

Other CRM providers

There are 11 other companies that are also considered in the report, some of which contain powerful functionality. The report cites Oracle Siebel CRM as an example, claiming it has the greatest depth and breadth of functionality of any CRM application measured in the Matrix, but also the sharpest learning curve.

However, recent developments could change that and see Seibel moving into the leader's quadrant. It has continued to develop Outlook integration and mobile enhancements, while a number of points on the roadmap should enhance usability, including Siebel CRM Desktop, Open UI and Task-Based UI.

SAP is listed, as is SugarCRM and newcomer Zoho, but for different reasons didn’t make it into the leader’s quadrant.

While the leaders score highly in both the functionality and usability criteria, it is important to look at those outside the quadrant if you are looking for specific functionality or something that is smaller and maybe more suitable for a small company or department needs.