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11/22/2006
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Keep An Eye On Sales Force Automation

For companies looking to extend their customer relationship management software to sales the time is right to look at sales-force automation applications, particularly from those vendors that offer SFA as a Web service. That's according to market research firm Gartner, which recently released its predictions for the SFA market.

For companies looking to extend their customer relationship management software to sales the time is right to look at sales-force automation applications, particularly from those vendors that offer SFA as a Web service. That's according to market research firm Gartner, which recently released its predictions for the SFA market.The way Gartner sees it, smaller vendors will be offering best-of-breed applications for managing sales and leads while application suite vendors continue to focus on building out their CRM and enterprise resource planning systems. Between 2005 and 2010, the SFA market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 13.1 percent, according to Gartner. By 2009, more than 50 percent of new SFA deployments will be delivered over the Internet as a service.

Gartner sees an increasing number of sales organizations embracing the software-as-a-service model, as its capabilities improve to handle more complex tasks. An area where the model is lacking is in automating complex processes that span multiple departments.

Leading the charge for SaaS is Salesforce.com, which the research firm says is adding 50,000 sales subscribers per quarter. All the competing vendors taken as a whole can't beat that number.

For those companies ready to give the SaaS model a try, Gartner recommends that they involve IT departments, which can provide the necessary guidance on service-level agreements. In addition, don't forget that SaaS is sold as a monthly subscription based on the number of users, so the purchase is most likely to fit into an operating budget, instead of a capital budget, which is where licensed software normally ends up.

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