And the Winner Is…

By Heather Baldwin

Thinking of implementing a CRM system? First you may want to check out new research from Aberdeen Group which identifies the top 10 implementations of 2000, along with three honorable mentions. The case studies highlight a wide range of vendors, their customers, the business problems they were trying to solve and the solutions implemented. So companies looking for examples of how other enterprises successfully solved certain business problems have a good chance of finding it here, said Denis Pombriant, report editor and Aberdeen research director.

Pombriant’s methodology was straightforward: In late 2000, he emailed his CRM vendor contacts to announce Aberdeen’s intent to identify the top 10 implementations of 2000 and asked each vendor to nominate their best single implementation by answering six essay questions which addressed topics such as how the vendor and customer found each other, what the business problems were, what the return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) was, and what the future held for the solution. Pombriant and his team graded each answer, did some statistical analysis to whittle the list to 15, then interviewed the vendor and customer to create a more detailed case study and arrive at the final top 10. Winners and their implementations included Annuncio (Dell Computers), eAssist (British Telecom), FirePond (Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York) and Siebel (Honeywell Aerospace). For a complete list, visit

While the top 10 list yielded a variety of business problems that were solved, “one of the really interesting findings was that even as organizations wanted to find more efficient ways to sell, one of their big concerns was how they could best keep existing customers,” said Pombriant. “This is interesting because as [engaging] as sales force automation is, we all know the stats on how expensive it is to bring in a new customer versus keeping an existing customer happy, and there was a real consciousness of that.”

There were two other common threads which Pombriant said really contributed to the success of the top 10 implementations. First, the companies and vendors who made the list “exhibited great willingness to involve the end-user and management in the success; they knew that if implementation was going to be successful, they had to have management and user buy-in,” Pombriant said. Second, each customer understood that a big-bang approach, in which the CRM application is implemented company-wide all at once, would not work. Instead, each top 10 implementation was done incrementally.