As part of its ongoing effort to help users evaluate vendor offerings, META Group announced the availability of a METAspectrum report on the customer relationship management (CRM) application suite market. CRM suites enable companies to manage and optimize their customer relationships.

According to META Group, a lack of perceived value resulting from technology over-investment will drive organizations in 2005 to realign their CRM initiatives with their business strategies, and legacy applications nearing end-of-life will motivate organizations to upgrade to next-generation CRM architectures. By 2006, CRM transformation will become strategic for mainstream organizations, supported by industry-specific products, service-oriented architectures, integration frameworks, and articulated value propositions.

Leading vendors in this market demonstrate excellence in several key areas: vision/strategy, mind share, ecosystem investment strategy, feature/function depth and vertical coverage. Vendor performance and presence are equally important for the CRM market -- vendors must excel in both areas to succeed. The most important presence criteria include awareness/reputation (e.g., mind share, shortlist frequency), vision/strategy and industry focus (e.g., vertical process expertise). The most important performance criteria include technology (e.g., features/functionality, integration, architecture), execution (e.g., customer referenceability, vendor's effectiveness in managing new product introduction) and services (e.g., hosting options, professional services).

"CRM application suites provide a broad range of technologies to support implementation of customer-life-cycle patterns and CRM processes across the organization," said Elizabeth Roche, vice president at META Group. "End users must consider their unique process, functional, budgetary, and technological requirements, and tailor their CRM application decisions accordingly."

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