Onyx Software, a CRM vendor that competes against the likes of Siebel,
Kana, and Pivotal in the mid-market, is committed to distributing its
applications through ASPs. Onyx's main product is Onyx 2000, which has
the following four components:
Engine - This is the backbone for the rest of the applications. The
engine consists of a data center, process technology (technology that
tracks customer interactions across company divisions and routes customer
data to the appropriate division), an interface framework that manages
the user interface for the other three components mentioned below, and
an integration framework to tie Onyx's front end applications to other
vendor's back end (ERP and other) systems.
Portal - This application allows organizations to provide personalized
marketing, e-commerce, and service functions to their customers over
the Internet. Capabilities include catalog and campaign management,
product configuration and order processing, and online service functions
- including a self-help knowledge database.
Portal - This application allows employees to manage contact information
and sales opportunities, and view customer service queues. The Employee
Portal also allows third party products to be viewed in the same interface
via enterprise portal technology
Portal - This application allows organizations to provide collaborative
marketing, selling and support capabilities to their partner channel.
This includes the ability to distribute leads to partners and provide
product configuration and order processing.
version of each component is available via ASPs. Onyx has developed a
partner network titled ASPiN that matches software, hardware, and hosting
companies to the needs of the client. Clients that choose to have their
CRM data managed by an ASPiN partner can decide to purchase or rent the
applications and select onsite or offsite data storage.
Vice President of Business Development, says the ASPiN program is a business
development initiative as much as it is a service offering. Mr. Bledsoe
states that Onyx strives to make their ASP partner relationships successful
by ensuring that partners have the vertical expertise in the client's
industry before allowing them to administer Onyx applications. This forces
Onyx to maintain close relationships with its ASP partners such that ASPs
only take business for which they are qualified. Although this makes Onyx's
partner relationships difficult to maintain, the potential benefit to
the client is clear - their CRM solution will go to the partners with
a set services that most closely meets the client's needs.
ASP offerings for CRM applications are enjoying fast acceptance in the
mid-market. Onyx is positioning its offering to take advantage of this
trend. A challenge for any mid-market CRM vendor is to convince potential
clients that their offering provides a clear advantage in a confusing
market. Mid-market organizations have many choices in the marketplace.
TEC is witnessing a few trends in the CRM marketplace that will benefit
organizations in the long-term, but currently create confusion.
first trend is the acceptance of the ASP model as a mode of distribution
to the mid-market. Nearly every mid-market vendor has some form of an
ASP offering. Although the promise of reduced implementation risk and
time, lower upfront costs, etc. justify the ASP model, this brings an
entire new set of issues for the mid-market organization to consider.
Some of the issues that need consideration include the technical capability
of the ASP to administer the program, the ability of the ASP to guarantee
connectivity, what pricing model to choose, and how to negotiate a service
level agreement. These issues need to be addressed in conjunction with
evaluating the capabilities of the software package, and understanding
if the ASP offering differs from the traditional licensed offering.
second trend that is sure to make a CRM selection cumbersome is the push
to have a single vendor supply both analytical and operational applications.
Analytics applications include business intelligence tools, customer analytics
tools, segmentation tools, and web analysis tools. SAS, Broadbase, E.piphany,
WebTrends, and Net Perceptions traditionally supplied analytics tools.
Operational applications include sales force automation, contact and lead
management, and customer service functions. Siebel, Onyx, Pivotal, and
Interact traditionally supplied operational tools.
have been a number of acquisitions and alliances between the two types
of vendors (see Broadbase
Continues to Expand and When
You Realized the Need for a Unified View of Your Customers, that is E.piphany
for more information on this market trend). This makes a CRM selection
perplexing because no vendor has every aspect of operational and analytical
CRM, and every vendor is focusing efforts on coming up with a "complete
solution." Wading through the marketing hype to find a vendor that has
the right mix of operational and analytical CRM to meet the organization's
needs is becoming increasingly difficult in this blurred market.
the long term as the product offerings and ASP distribution models mature
these trends should benefit most organizations. Onyx appears to be moving
in the right direction because its focus on managing the ASP reseller
as a close partner should help make many of the ASP issues less cumbersome
for its clients. Furthermore, Mr. Bledsoe did tell TEC that although Onyx's
current offering has limited analytics capabilities; it is actively seeking
partnerships with analytics vendors to provide those functions. Onyx will
not disclose whom it is considering as partners, or what types of analytical
tools it is planning to add at this time.
Mid-market firms looking to use an ASP for their operational CRM needs
should certainly consider the service options available in the Onyx ASPiN
program. Onyx has a sound strategy for distributing its product through
ASPs. If analytics components are important to your CRM initiative be
sure to wait and see who Onyx partners with, what tools will be available,
and what the timeframe is for commercial availability.
the tradeoffs with using an ASP. Some of the potential benefits are:
upfront product costs
of application maintenance from the internal IT staff's agenda
Some of the
potential pitfalls with using an ASP are:
an ASP that lacks the technical ability to administer the program
responsibility when something goes wrong (the ASP blaming the application
vendor and vice versa)