CRM services brands suffer from obscurity

Brand Awareness is sorely lacking in the CRM (customer relationship management) services arena, leaving the door wide open for vendors to build mind share, according to a study detailed on Monday by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA).

In fact, half of the respondents in the survey comprised of 400 decision makers from Fortune 1000 companies and government entities could not name a single provider.

"What we found is they do know who the [IT] services vendors are," said Julie Schwartz, vice president of research for Lexington, Massachusetts-based ITSMA. But "on an unaided basis [in which no checklist of vendors was provided in the survey], they're not associating any particular company with CRM services," Schwartz said.

What the results mean is the vendors need to do a better job of getting out the message that they are in the CRM services market, Schwartz said.

"This is a huge market and one of the few markets that hopefully will remain stable, if not grow, over the next year or two and right now, it's very fragmented," Schwartz said. "There's no clear leader in terms of owning the CRM services space."

This gap leaves "a great opportunity for someone to establish themselves as a CRM [services] leader," said Schwartz.

CRM services companies named by respondents in the survey included IBM Global Services, Accenture Ltd., and Siebel Systems Inc.

CRM services, for the purposes of the study, was defined as providers of CRM-related offerings such as consulting, systems integration, and business processes.

IBM Global Services was recognized most frequently as a CRM services provider, but captured just 12 percent of the tally in unaided brand awareness. Accenture and Siebel followed with 9 percent.

ITSMA's study said Oracle Corp., Siebel, IBM Global Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Deloitte Consulting have the highest favorability ratings among CRM providers.

Respondents did name Siebel, Oracle, PeopleSoft Inc., and SAP AG as the top providers of CRM software, according to ITSMA.

According to research firm Gartner Inc., the CRM services market, including applications hosting and services, was projected at US$20 billion in January 2001.

The market was projected to grow annually at 26 percent, bringing it to $65 billion in 2005, although upcoming projections are expected to be adjusted downward due to the tough U.S. economic climate.

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