Let’s face it: the five year cost of CRM software in a SaaS model has eclipsed on premise software costs for most organizations. We should re-state this: most businesses will not face this issue head on. Obfuscating and a disengenuous sleight-of-hand accounting razzamatazz can give the vague appearance that SaaS is cheaper. SaaS is evolving like Client/Server in the Cloud: next-gen vendor lock-in. Our Open API, our partners, our certification, through our system. Other than that you have complete choice.
The prices have risen as functionality has been added. The argument that it would get cheaper because of economies of scale for the vendor has not translated into lower costs. There still is nothing available to run a global customer support organization for a consumer-oriented enterprise. Most of the vendors in the space can’t make a profit. Software suppliers who have entered the space have not grown significantly, and everyone has to point to the same one or two players, though they are the exception proving the rule. Lack of global data centers to deliver the application servers and store sensitive customer data, as well as integrate with local telephone switches and CTI protocols has also slowed adoption.
And yet SaaS continues to attract CRM application buyers, and for good reason: the desire to outsource infrastructure and IT expertise and lower fixed costs continues unabated. The gutting of internal IT expertise appears irreversible. The only impediment to adoption is lack of product, and lack of competition where there is product.
The cost to a vendor to build out a global capability is steep, and the handful of software companies who have the wherewithal have not seen the CRM space as sufficiently promising to go wide and go deep. That leaves essentially a largely non-competitive market for global scale CRM in a SaaS model.
The result means that unit prices have and will continue to go up for buyers/subscribers. The advice would be to keep a watch on vendor lock-in, and weigh the trade offs between ‘most-of-suite’ versus best-of-breed. It is going to be a long four years until a more competitive global market evolves for SaaS in the Sales and Customer Service CRM space, and keeping options open is not a bad idea as the dust settles.
Or do you see it differently? We see what we see – and there may be hard evidence versus a few anecdotal and incomplete estimates of the above – so jump in and respond!
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