In response to growing demand for a low-cost and easy to implement alternative to traditional customer relationship management (CRM), Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) today introduces its 2004 Hosted Sales Force Automation (SFA) TechRankings assessment of four key solutions. Forrester invited CRM vendors offering hosted SFA products or services to participate in TechRankings, an objective, scenario-based product testing and evaluation process.

Hosted CRM’s Web-based interface and pay-as-you-go subscription model bring CRM value to a new set of users — from traveling sales representatives to channel partners to business executives. SFA is the most widely adopted area of hosted CRM, as well as the first area most companies consider when they begin CRM implementations. The independent nature of most sales forces makes it particularly well-suited to the hosted model.

The low entry cost and short implementation time for hosted SFA provides companies with a number of benefits, including fast deployment to a wide distributed audience with easy upgrade when required. Hosted SFA solutions also allow companies to test the CRM waters without requiring hardware or IT resources. In addition, end users can access and manage the solution through a simple Web browser, allowing them to easily modify business processes and screen layouts as the business changes.

TechRankings analyzed both the ability of the vendor to support the solution and its functionality, including the tools to manage the sales process and sales management — from managing opportunities, quotas and forecasts, to assessing the results. Four vendors have participated to date:

  • NetSuite Version 9.1
  • Salesnet Extended
  • Enterprise Edition
  • Siebel CRM OnDemand — UpShot Edition

While each of the vendors has different strengths and weaknesses, in general Forrester’s testing revealed robust sales analysis tools, including reporting and dashboarding, but immature analytics, such as cross-sell or purchase analysis. Integration with desktop applications was another strong feature, with good support for PDAs and desktop tools. Forrester also noted that process management, such as automating next steps, encouraging sales best practices, and alerting users to take action, was becoming a differentiator for some vendors.

“With the CRM market moving to cost-conscious midsized companies, we’re seeing hosted SFA solutions as an emerging battleground for CRM,” said Erin Kinikin, vice president, research director, at Forrester. “Hosted SFA solutions are now at parity with traditional CRM products for basic sales functionality, qualifying them for the short list for companies with low integration requirements and distributed sales forces.”

About TechRankings

Launched in October 2000, TechRankings evaluates more than 70 enterprise software products through rigorous hands-on scenario-based product testing, in-depth research, and objective analysis of global vendor offerings. TechRankings allows Forrester clients to use online tools to customize the research — and product evaluation rankings — to focus on the most important criteria and vendors. Forrester invites all important vendors, based on their product fit and momentum, to participate in each TechRankings evaluation. Forrester does not charge vendors in any way to participate.

The TechRankings research mentioned in this press release is available to Forrester WholeView¿ clients and can be found through The Giga “IT Trends 2004: Customer Relationship Management” is available to Giga Advisory clients and can be found through