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Sword Ciboodle Company Viability Assessment


An Operating Unit of The Sword Group

Sword Group is the parent company of Sword Ciboodle and acquired the customer service CRM application company in 2008 for approximately €47m when it operated under the name Graham Technology/Ciboodle. Founded in December 2000, the Sword Group operates in 37 countries, employs over 1,800 people and generates about €185m in consolidated revenue. The company is public (listed in EURONEXT Paris), profitable and organized into three divisions—a Software Division, IT Services Division and Communications Technologies Division—and achieves expansion via organic growth and too a much larger extent an active acquisition and roll-up strategy. Since 2000, Sword Group has completed 31 acquisitions.

The holding company's modus operandi is to deliver best of breed business applications to highly regulated markets. In addition to Sword Ciboodle, the Sword Group software applications portfolio includes insurance distribution technology from Sword AgencyPort, anti-money laundering and straight-through-processing banking solutions from Sword FircoSoft, financial systems to the retail banking sector from Sword Apak, and governance and risk compliance management software from Sword Achiever.

Sword Ciboodle is a small, entrepreneurial customer service software technology company that remains largely outside the purview of most direct competitors. Financials for the Ciboodle operating unit are not broken out or separately disclosed, however, our estimate is that Ciboodle generates turnover of approximately €25M per annum. Our estimate is based on third party sources, estimates obtained from executive interviews and comparison points with other customer service CRM software vendors.

Company strengths which suggest Sword Ciboodle is a strong challenger for a leadership role in the customer service CRM software market include the following.

  • The company shows impressive growth. More importantly than acquiring new customers is the company's ability to satisfy and retain their customers.
  • Sword Ciboodle shows continued software innovation. For example, the company's alliance with SAS delivers impressive analytics and the Ciboodle One unified agent desktop module sets the bar for an agent user experience.
  • The company enjoys strategic alliances with a strong network of global system integrators, and to a lesser extent independent software vendors (ISVs), including Accenture, CSC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, hiSoft and IBM.

However, in an increasingly fragmented and competitive CRM software industry with a steady stream of new venture-backed start-ups along with much larger and more mature competitors, Sword Ciboodle also incurs substantial risks.

  • Sword Ciboodle faces formidable competition with much larger competitors in each of the primary CRM software sectors which it competes. Within the process-based customer service application market, highly regarded and much larger competitors include Chordiant & Pegasystems and RightNow Technologies. Within the broader CRM software market, Sword Ciboodle competes with on-premise giants Oracle (primarily with Oracle Siebel, PeopleSoft and Fusion) and SAP, as well as a host of cloud-based CRM systems including Oracle Fusion and (with its Service Cloud).
  • The company lags both its BPM competitors and traditional CRM software competitors in making a transition to the cloud. This is likely due to less agile technology, absence of a multi-tenant architecture and unwillingness to host cloud software themselves. Failure to eventually deliver a true SaaS and cloud CRM application will unquestionably limit the company's competitiveness and continued growth.
  • The company lacks a well rounded or balanced CRM suite—which includes strong Sales Force Automation (SFA), marketing automation, mobile CRM and social CRM. While there is a strength in being a best of breed customer service BPM solution, point solutions often lose favor once broader CRM suite solutions deliver comparable functionality, with the benefits of vendor managed seamless integration, reduced costs and one stop vendor accountability.

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