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2005's top 10 stories in CRM and customer data

We rummaged through our stories from last year and came up with a list of the most compelling and important articles in CDI and CRM. In many ways, it was a landmark year.

10. Midmarket and SMB CRM still holding promise -- As consolidation and maturity hits the enterprise CRM market, vendors are fine-tuning their midmarket and SMB strategies. The Sage Group plc is straightening out its Saleslogix, ACT and ACCPAC lines; Microsoft is still making headway; and SAP's Business One tool is getting some good attention.

9. Data warehouses face failure -- The business intelligence (BI) market got a heavy dose of reality this year when Gartner reported that half of data warehouse projects are destined for doom. Through 2007, 50% of warehousing projects will see limited acceptance or be outright failures. The culprit? That's right, dirty data.

8. Data management market makes way for IBM -- Big Blue made apparent its strategy to strengthen its information management offerings in 2005, snapping up data quality vendor Ascential Software for $1.4 billion and data integration player DWL as well. As CRM matures, data integration and data quality are becoming increasingly important. IBM staked out a strong position in one year with these strategic buys.

7. You might as well leave the jacket on, Mr. Lawrie -- Brought in from IBM's global sales division to help change Siebel Systems' culture for the better and turn around its slumping sales, Mike Lawrie lasted less than a year as CEO. When things didn't improve quickly, the board swiftly and abruptly took action, ousting Lawrie and appointing George Shaheen, longtime Siebel ally, as the company's new leader.

6. Hosted CRM proclaims itself enterprise ready -- After two successful IPOs last year, CRM's hosted market began 2005 with plenty of momentum. The deployment model "grew up" rather quickly -- not only taking on a more sophisticated identity (commonly referred to now as software as a service, or SaaS), but also taking on more enterprise accounts. Several pioneers declared themselves enterprise ready in 2005. And they made a convincing argument with's 5,000-seat deal at Merrill Lynch and major deals for RightNow Technologies and Entellium as well. Yet many analysts remain skeptical. Are the hosted players trying to grow up too fast? Time will tell.

5. Open source makes CRM debut -- Long relegated to database software, the open source movement turned its eye on enterprise applications in 2005. Several startups jumped into the BI market, and SugarCRM claimed more than its share of headlines as it took the open source CRM market by storm.

4. Aspect and Concerto tie the knot -- The contact center market got a little smaller in 2005 when Intervoice added to its interactive voice response arsenal with the acquisition of Edify and Microsoft added a speech technology vendor. But the big doozy was the marriage of Aspect and Concerto. The deal brings together workforce management and unified contact center applications -- resulting in one formidable contact center heavyweight.

3. After a long (too long?) wait, Microsoft delivers on CRM 3.0 -- Microsoft skipped over 2.0 and went right to 3.0, rebranded its CRM application into Dynamics CRM and, perhaps most importantly, added marketing capabilities and a monthly pricing option. So far the feedback has been positive, but some are wondering whether it was worth the wait.

2. CDI takes center stage -- Integration has been an issue in CRM for years, but in 2005, businesses started taking a long hard look at customer data integration. Gartner offered its first Magic Quadrant for the category, and the Global 2000 companies were expected to spend an average of $1.2 million on CDI in 2005. Whether customer data was siloed in old systems, separated by mergers and acquisitions, or scattered among suppliers, this was the year to start getting it together.

We'd ask for a drum roll here, but it's probably not much of a surprise …

1. Oracle snaps up Siebel -- Sure, there's consolidation every year. In 2004, Oracle completed its acquisition of PeopleSoft. But when Larry Ellison reaches out and spends $5.85 billion for the company that practically started it all … well, that's hands down the year's top story. We'll see what the fallout means in 2006, but some are already asking: Could this be the end of enterprise CRM?

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