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Vertical CRM Not Just for Little Guys

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Posted September 11, 2015 By Ann All     Feedback

With new 'clouds' for health care and financial services, Salesforce joins SAP and Oracle in offering industry-specific CRM software.

CRM market leaders Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft account for less than half of the total CRM market. Gartner has estimated that more than 900 companies sell CRM software.

Why is the CRM market so fragmented? When Enterprise Apps Today asked industry experts, they pointed to large numbers of CRM vendors that specialize in serving smaller companies and/or specific industry verticals. Both audiences have needs not necessarily being met by the biggest CRM vendors, they said.

Choosing a CRM product specifically tailored to an industry vertical can save time and money that might otherwise be spent customizing more general CRM software. Frank Scavo, president of management consulting firm Strativa, mentioned as an example Blackbaud's Raiser's Edge, CRM software designed for charities and non-profits with features that address industry-specific workflows and processes not found in other CRM systems such as those involving pledges and volunteers.

The cloud has made it simpler to build vertical CRM solutions, pointed out Alok Misra, co-founder and principal at Navatar Group, in a post on the company blog. It's not surprising that he thinks so as his company does exactly that, offering CRM software for wealth managers.

Vertical CRM solutions are especially popular in industries with stringent regulatory requirements and complicated workflows. In many of those sectors, including health care and financial services, companies often still use a patchwork of proprietary legacy software that hampers their ability to offer flexible and efficient customer service.

Paul DeVriendt, senior VP of products at NexJ Systems, told Enterprise Apps Today that financial services, insurance and health care companies were the target for NexJ's products.

"These markets have a strong demand for people-centered information that is best enabled by CRM software. They tend to have complex technology infrastructures that require solutions with flexible integration capabilities," he said.

Not surprisingly, the CRM giants are also interested in serving vertical markets. SAP last year introduced CRM applications on its HANA cloud platform for the retail, utilities and insurance sectors. For several years Oracle's On Demand CRM has offered features geared toward industries including life sciences, automotive, insurance and financial services.

And Salesforce just staked its claim in the vertical CRM market by announcing "clouds" meant for  financial advisors and health care professionals.

Writing on the company blog, Simon Mulcahy, SVP and general manager of Financial Services for Salesforce, said his company's Financial Services Cloud aims to help financial advisors offer a more collaborative and personalized approach to their clients. That has been tough to date, he wrote, because advisors "have been hampered with dozens of home-grown, on-premise systems that hinder their ability to build deeper relationships with clients."

Salesforce worked with clients in the financial services space, including AIG Advisor Group, Northern Trust and United Capital, to include features that would be useful to advisors. Among them: the ability to collaborate with third parties such as accountants and lawyers on a client's behalf.

Earlier this month Salesforce rolled out the Health Cloud. Writing on the blog, Joshua Newman, chief medical officer and GM of Healthcare and Life Sciences, said that the Affordable Care Act and its outcome-based reimbursements have made it necessary for the health care industry to step up its customer service. Salesforce's software hopes to make it easier with features such as alerts for caregivers and communities that allow caregivers to collaborate and assign tasks across a network of professionals.

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

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