Despite the messaging and megaphones of the largest CRM software publishers, the CRM software market is in transition. As shown in the most recent CRM Market Share Report, the top CRM vendors' collective market share is in steady decline.
What's clear is that a new group of CRM software publishers are taking market share away from the old guard.
What's less clear is why this is occurring, and which up and coming CRM vendors are most benefiting.
Creatio (formerly bpm'online) is one of those up and comers. The company is outperforming the CRM market and taking market share away from the current CRM market leaders. To understand why, I met the company's executives, product experts and customers.
The organization was founded in 2002 and took a unique business process management (BPM) approach when releasing their CRM software. They were savvy enough to recognize the world doesn't need another horizontal marketing, sales and service application, and have since carved additional differentiation in designing CRM for vertical markets.
The company's target market consists of middle market and enterprise companies, although at this point the enterprise market is more aspirational than actual. That said, if the company continues to make inroads with both enterprise customers and global system integrators they may find increased traction.
So why is this company growing faster than the market?
- The product is built on a modern technology platform – including a single-tenant database architecture, service-oriented architecture (SOA), .NET framework and RESTful APIs. More so, the platform tools make the application extensible by business analysts.
- The application offers a choice in delivery – be it online or on-premise. This is particularly helpful for middle market and enterprise companies which often favor on-premise or hybrid delivery.
- The application hallmark is a business process management engine. Process automation aids business agility, improves user productivity, facilitates business process consistency, accelerates cycle times and reduces errors. Process design follows the widely accepted Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard.
- The application includes a deep CRM suite. The sales module offers inventory integration for quotes, sale orders and invoices; opportunity scoring; e-commerce and a loyalty system – capabilities you don't see in many CRM applications. The marketing module satisfies most of the six marketing automation processes and touches upon Marketing Resource Management (MRM) capabilities. Service covers the basic requirements such as case management, queue management, knowledge management, agent desktop, SLAs, customer portal and ITIL processes for internal help desk services. The company must be careful to keep the suite simple. When broad suites become too confusing, customers elect to go simple.
- The application lowers total cost of ownership. Creatio pricing is about 70-75% of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and 50-60% of Salesforce.
This product e has a unique software development process which evolves its CRM solution at an accelerated pace. The company drives software innovation across 28 Scrum teams and delivers three major updates per year.
Creatio competitors are not just the normal cast of characters. Due to its BPM orientation, its direct competitors are players offering similar process-based CRM solutions. Pega is a primary competitor, especially in Europe. Additionally, the company serves about two dozen vertical markets, so finds itself competing with a broad spectrum of industry specific CRM software providers.
Notwithstanding the impressive growth, there are a few caution areas. The company's US expansion is young and uncertain, and topics important to enterprise customers such as customer experience, big data, IoT and AI are not yet supported by the product.
The Future Looks Bright If …
Creatio has a relatively young but competent leadership team that demonstrates technology know-how. They listen to their customers and they deliver incremental improvements at a feverish pace. But to be a market share leader, they need to do more.
More Innovation. The company found differentiation in bringing BPM to CRM. However, nearly every CRM vendor, and especially top CRM vendors such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, have also introduced low code/no code workflow tools. In fact, Microsoft's Power BI has become a category leader. While Creatio may continue to provide thought leadership in this category, the gap has narrowed to the point where this capability is less relevant in CRM buyers' purchasing decisions. Finding new innovation that delivers order of magnitude change ― not just incremental improvements ― will be required to become a market share leader. There are a lot of opportunities to consider, such as innovation to improve user productivity, customer engagement, the customer experience (CX), social business or business intelligence to name a few.
More Disruption. The CRM software industry is incurring accelerated change. Social CRM, customer experience, cloud ecosystems, activity based marketing, big data, IoT, AI and predictive analytics are but a few of the influxes altering the CRM landscape. The company would be wise to not just pick the next market influx that best compliments its product roadmap, but to take ownership and leadership of that niche.
More Vision. The company would benefit from a clear and compelling vision supported with thought leadership and points of view that demonstrate how customers can improve their operations and outperform their competitors with enabling technology.
More Messaging. The company flies under the radar for most CRM software buyers. It needs to step up, be bold and increase its messaging reach. It could do well to pick a fight with one of the market leaders.
More GSIs. The company will need to secure partnerships with the global system integrators (GSIs) in order gain credibility and increased traction with global and U.S. enterprise customers.
More Industry Depth. CRM buyers are increasingly demanding industry specific CRM solutions. The company has a good start, but may be wise to focus on fewer industries in order to go deeper.
CRM software buyers looking for a solution with embedded BPM capabilities at an attractive SaaS or on-premise acquisition cost should put this solution on their shortlist. CRM buyers which find safety in acquiring market share leading products should consider this application in context with the company's business planning and product roadmap.