Customer relationship software is of course one of the most common and expansive manifestation of the SaaS revolution. At this point, hundreds of titles in this industry have been talked to oblivion and back, and hundreds of lists, reviews and tutorials have been published, adding terabytes of data to the internet.
So, for many readers, this is going to be a completely redundant article. Those of you who’ve read our reviews of customer relationship software published within the last couple months will find nothing particularly new here, as it’s not yet time for an update.
However, since there has been a wave of new interest in this topic, this one is for the uninitiated, who are looking to find out their first information about CRM software and what’s good.
With that in mind, let’s take a look.
#1 – Salesforce
Salesforce is the most popular, for the most part, CRM software solution available right now. It’s indicative of something special about the SaaS boom, that being that a lot of startup, new names in software have taken the throne in this field, rather than established names such as Microsoft.
Salesforce offers all the standard CRM amenities you’d be looking for, but it goes further, with an exposed API called Apex. With Apex, you can design custom forms, automata and extensions that basically remove the limit to feature list in principle.
Taking advantage of this API are a vast group of developers who have banded together in the App Exchange to offer some really cool extensions for Salesforce that make it do lots of wild things.
#2 – Microsoft Dynamics
Dynamics is basically Microsoft’s answer to Salesforce, as Bing was its answer to Google. And, like Bing, it’s very well designed and functions perfectly for its task, but it just can’t seem to outshine the competition. This might be partly due to Salesforce’s head start, but it’s also partially due to a lack of an App Exchange equivalent.
Price-wise, this one and Salesforce are higher end, so they’re less accessible to smaller businesses, and that plus the lack of that exchange kind of stick Dynamics in the middle of lists like this. It does have a solid exposed API which is standard Microsoft .Net and web framework API. That makes it really easy to develop around.
#3 – Zoho
Zoho is for smaller and medium businesses, and it trims a lot of the fat the other two retain. It does have an exposed API, and its competence as a core CRM solution are pretty good.
However, it doesn’t integrate easily with the kinds of third party services and technologies the other two can accomplish. But, it’s priced for small and medium businesses, and you get what you pay for. The philosophy is that at that stage of business growth, the extra power the others have above the call of CRM prowess are not yet going to be required.
Customer relationship software like these are only the tip of the ice berg. Everyone is making a CRM solution, including Oracle, Sun, a ton of other newcomers, and even Google is repeatedly threatening to announce one themselves (which ought to be interesting).