CRM and social CRM expert Paul Greenberg finished posting his CRM 2011 Watchlist series this week. It's six parts totaling more than 35,000 words. It's a much more detailed and comprehensive view of the CRM space than you would expect from a Magic Quadrant or Wave report, and it's completely free. Greenberg covers both vendors and consulting companies. It's less formal than the Magic Quadrant and Greenberg does a lot of shooting from the hip.

Greenberg used the following subjective criteria to rank the companies: financial performance; management; state of technology products; partnerships/alliances; mission/vision; market presence/impact; thought leadership and corporate culture. Greenberg didn't rank the winners in any particular order, but he did reveal which vendor scored the highest. The answer probably won't surprise you.

Those wanting an explanation on just what the heck "social CRM" is and why it matters, Greenberg's article "Social CRM? Really? REALLY?" is required reading. And I want to echo Greenberg's sentiment from the Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara conference: as a customer "I want to be engaged not managed."

The six parts are:

The series is massive, but here are the highlights, along with some thoughts:

Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com was the highest scoring company on Greenberg's list. Like I said, this shouldn't be a surprise. Greenberg only mentions one serious criticism: the company doesn't spend enough time at events other than its own. I've written plenty about Salesforce.com in the last few months, and will surely write more so I'll just leave it at that.

SugarCRM

SugarCRM's score didn't meet Greenberg's threshold for inclusion, but he included it anyway. Because, as he says, because they belong there. He writes that the company's 6.1 is a quality platform, and notes its iPhone app and integration with Outlook and Qontext. He also praises the company's Sugar Exchange platform and partnerships. So why didn't they meet his threshold?

All in all, I can't pin down a clear vision for them or really focused direction, though I'm sure they have one. More importantly, I don't see them having the market impact that they should have, given what they offer. I'm not alone in that. Conversations with other analysts/thought leaders/influencers/journalists and customers confirm that. For a company this far along, they are not having the impact they should.

I have trouble pinning down Sugar's vision as well, and that's part of what makes it hard for me to get excited about it. I chose them as the honorable mention for CRM in our Top 10 Enterprise Products of 2010 on the strength of its offering. But it's hard to get excited about a company that's value proposition seems to be "We're like Saleforce.com, but cheaper." Unless you're a budget consciousness company, of course. Then you should probably be very excited about Sugar.

Moxie

Greenberg writes:

Moxie, formerly nGenera, had been having a hard time staying focused as they entered 2010. While they had a very good and evolving customer service product that was based on knowledge management, crowdsourcing, self service and customer service communities, that threw in a decent amount of internal collaboration features as part of the mix - an entire product devoted to it infact. Their idea? To foster employee engagement and customer engagement. Good thinking.

I've expressed skepticism of Moxie before, but I've been more interested since I saw the interview with CEO Tom Kelley at Net:Work. The trouble with Moxie is that i seems late in the game (though it has been around as nGenera for a bit longer). Also, its big differentiator is usability. That's good. I think that's the most important aspect and it will be what really drives differentiation in the future. But it's hard to prove.

The best way to prove that you have a usable product is also the reason that usability is so important: adoption. But when you've got a relatively new product, it's hard to prove anything. But the company has done some really serious research on usability and I hope it pays off.

Also, this week Moxie hired Megan Murray - a very well respected person in the enterprise 2.0 community - as a collaboration strategist.

KickApps

Greenberg writes:

Kickapps. Hmmm. I'm putting a company on this list that I never met anyone from. They've made no attempt to ever contact me. (Sniff. I'm hurt. I'm just so hurt. )They don't show up much in the "official mind share channels" (a group I just made up). Yet...here they are.

Why? Because, when it gets down to it, this company is SOLID.

My thoughts exactly. It's a solid company. It's actually been very good at reaching out to us (I'm surprised Greenberg hasn't heard from them). But the company seems to be missing from the larger social media debate. I don't know why that is, but it's a big part of why SugarCRM beat them out to be the honorable mention on Top 10 Enterprise Products of 2010 list in the social CRM category.

Cisco

I'm a lot less impressed with Cisco's social CRM offerings - SocialMiner and Finesse - than Greenberg is. I saw a demo of the two products last week and was underwhelmed. That said it's positioned to do a better job with contact center integration than most companies are.

Greenberg touts Cisco's social CRM management team, and I admit to not knowing much about them. Greenberg's analysis is worth reading.

Closing Thoughts

Of course there's plenty more material. Greenberg's take on IBM, Oracle and SAP is insightful as well. This is some serious reading, but it's well worth it.

There are only two companies that I'm surprised not to see on the list: Zendesk and Zoho. I believe those are two companies well worth watching in 2011.

Photo by kioan