30pc of investments in CRM will be via SaaS by 2012

24 Nov 2008

Some 30pc of new customer service and support application investments will be in the software as a service (SaaS) model by 2012, according to new research.

Organisations are experiencing project savings of 25 to 40pc by deploying CRM applications in a software as a service (SaaS) model, according to Gartner.

Gartner said its clients were making these savings from reduced application expense and lower implementation costs.

Much of the savings that organisations are making is a result of a lesser dependence on large external service providers (ESPs), which typically help businesses improve customer processes as part of the CRM engagement, but which play less of a role when SaaS is involved.

Among the top 100 SaaS deployments in 2007 and 2008, fewer than 10pc involved a large system integrator or an external enterprise business consulting team. This would indicate that the role of ESPs in designing, measuring and driving CRM process improvements will diminish at enterprises deploying SaaS solutions for CRM through 2012.

“Due to the increasing use of SaaS for CRM, ESPs — which include business consulting and system integration services — will have less influence on CRM processes as SaaS accelerates,” said Michael Maoz, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“This could result in an erosion of customer satisfaction among large enterprises that invest in SaaS solutions, unless they invest their own resources to measure and manage long-term CRM process improvements.”

Gartner expects a similar drop in customer experience scores from mid-size businesses. They’re a stronger target for SaaS offerings, and they rarely use ESPs for business consulting skills.

Maoz said that many projects that involve complex customer service contact centres are reported to be ‘on hold’ until better references are available from the large enterprise application vendors that are in the process of releasing a new generation of their products.

However, he said that SaaS is the deployment model of choice for an increasing number of projects. Gartner predicts that all forms of SaaS-delivered customer service applications in the call centre will grow by more than 20pc per year through 2012, and this will deliver significant savings.

By 2012, 30pc of new customer service and support application investments will be through the SaaS model.

Because SaaS applications lack sophistication in BPM and process design, and due to the absence of ESPs offering business process advice, the growing spread of SaaS CRM applications threatens CRM efforts.

“There will be significant savings in infrastructure and resource costs in migrating to SaaS, but to put that money to work in customer process improvements, careful performance measurement of ‘before’ and ‘after’ project spending will need to be performed,” Maoz said.

“If this does not happen, then the savings will be short-sighted, as they will not improve the relationship with the end customer.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years