While many established full suite vendors will tell you to stick with a single vendor's vertically integrated solution, the fact is that many of them started out as point solution providers themselves, so why change now? The answer has to do with the difficulty and expense of integrating third party applications. The history of CRM is largely, but far from completely, about end users selecting best of breed components and integrating them into what works best for them. Suite vendors might have the market cornered right now on integrated suites but not all of them are hotbeds of innovation in the "seams". So it makes sense that organizations looking for competitive advantage still look at emerging vendors and continue integrating those solutions rather than waiting for the big guys to get around to developing something similar.
Now, the good news is that over the last few years most CRM vendors have rearchitected their applications using modular approaches and foundation technologies which include Java/J2EE, COM and .Net, and even C++. What has resulted is that third parties can integrate with the vertical suites are more easily than ever before. In an Aberdeen InSight "Modular Architectures: A New Era for Best-of-Breed CRM?" we discuss this idea more fully. It's available for free if you are interested.
This was first published in July 2002