Analysts write reports. Even when they don't love them, they write them because it is the source of their power (and revenue) and it is why vendors fear them. Around Gartner Magic Quadrant time or Forrester ranking time or whoever's magic pentagram with curse attached time, the vendors go through INCREDIBLE hoops to get ranked up there. I've been involved in the days long sessions to make sure not just that the information is there and correct, but that the messaging is tweaked exactly right or brimstone will burn the soles of your feet. For many of you more experienced CRMish readers, if I say "upper right quadrant" you know what that means, don't you. Somehow, what actually is the description of the body area around the gall bladder is now Gartner's leadership category and that's Oscar-time if you're in it. (I wonder if you get a goodie bag with Dolce Gabbana shoes or Rado watches when Gartner says that you win?). That is almost a coronation. Not because Gartner tries to make them that. They do what they do as analysts and as Jerry Seinfeld always said, there's nothing wrong with that. What is sad is that the vendors and integrators are always jumping through hoops to get that ranking. The reality is that analysts' rankings are their opinions plus numbers associated with the opinion. These thoughts are arrived at after extensive research with customers, other analysts, the vendors, business partners, etc. In other words, they work at it and come up with their opinion on the success level and the probability of future success in the domain they are researching. They are hardly a measure of objective evaluation. Nor are they meant to be. But potential vendor customers treat them as if they are objective though and that is THEIR mistake - not the analysts.
(Know what? In a future blog entry, I'm going to analyze the analysts. I was going to do that in the latest edition of CRM at the Speed of Light, but due to rapidly angst producing space considerations, McGraw-Hill and I decided to let that chapter go, as much fun as it would have been. Now I got this blog....hmmmm.)
Well, Forrester issued its leadership rankings and guess what? Siebel wins!! Siebel wins!! SIebel WINS!!!! SAP and Oracle came in close behind and Amdocs came in as the sole "strong performer" challenger. Which means they are regaining their place in the CRM universe and all's right with the world again. Only PeopleSoft is missing from these kingdoms of yore and we know where that is. Castille + Aragon + Seville = the medieval Spanish kingdom. PeopleSoft + Retek + ProfitLogic + JD Edwards + Oracle = the kingdom of Oracle.
More germane than the rankings, though, was Forrester's projection that the CRM industry will gather up $13 billion in its bushel baskets this year - though very relatively little of that as licenses - only $3.2 billion (a neat 25%). The rest will be in services including integration and maintenance costs. Apparently, CRM is not in the midst of a demise nor is it suffering through its often skeptical press.. Let's face, despite all the bad press and all the acronyms that make it unintelligble to most people - CRM applications and services will be around as a business for awhile yet . As a strategy and program, though, it will continue to morph from its classic stance of improving customer relationships with better sales, marketing and customer service to improving customer relationships with better experiences between the company and the customer - experiences that engage the entire value chain. $13 billion for the software and services to support that is nothing to sneeze at. But analysts' rankings? ACHOO!