As the CRM and CEC markets continue to evolve, Gartner updates the criteria it uses to evaluate providers, which means the vendors included in this report may differ from prior iterations. For example, Cherwell was added to this year’s report, while Kustomer, a Niche Player in the 2020 report, was dropped from the list. It’s also worth noting that Gartner ranks many of the vendors here on account of how well they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Gartner, many of the most successful CEC applications include digital engagement channels, voice-of-the-customer functionalities, customer service analytics, automated engagement, IoT connections, scalable cloud systems, workforce engagement management (WEC), and other features for case, workflow, and knowledge management.
A breakdown of each category listed and the companies associated with it is below.
There are very few changes made in the 2021 iteration of this Magic Quadrant, as many of the vendors listed maintained their position in the report. For example, Salesforce remains the top Leader, with Gartner reporting that nearly 70% of prospective CEC customers they spoke with had Salesforce Cloud listed as their first, second, or third choice. The company also exhibits a strong vision for the future as it continues to invest in its global presence and industry-specific services. Salesforce also launched two solutions to help state and local governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Gartner cites as exhibiting a strong “Ability to Execute.”
Pegasystems is the next Leader, followed closely by Microsoft. The Gartner report says that Pegasystems’ emphasis on automated services and integration capabilities, alongside its success as an implementation and digital transformation partner, earned Pegasystems its place as a Leader. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s CEC services—which come from its Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Power Virtual Agents, Power Automate, and other applications—rank highly for their adaptable product strategy and general viability, as determined by its steady revenue growth in 2020.
Known for its high adoption rates and accessible user interface, Zendesk earns its place as a Leader in Gartner’s report thanks to its investment in automated conversations orchestration, native and third-party bots, and workforce management tools. While Gartner does note that Zendesk isn’t an ideal solution for larger enterprises, the company has the most customers of any vendor listed in this Magic Quadrant. It is a good fit for organizations that do not require industry-specific customizations.
ServiceNow’s Customer Service Management (CSM) product provides its clients with a robust platform of capabilities for asset management, real-time monitoring, cross-enterprise workflows, IoT threshold monitoring, and other tools included in its IntegrationHub. While ServiceNow ranks higher for its ability to execute, Oracle is listed as having higher completeness of vision. Gartner spotlights its knowledge management solution and its Oracle Intelligent Advisor (OIA) service, which offers smart advice via self-service and conversational channels, as its strongest features.
SAP is the only Challenger in this year’s report, although it skirts the line between both the Niche Player and Leader category. The company continues to invest and expand its CEC offering. Its most prominent strengths are defined as its geographic reach, end-to-end service management capabilities, and its Industry Cloud service, which SAP and its partners use to develop industry-specific applications.
Verint and its Customer Engagement Cloud Platform is the top Niche Player. The company’s omnichannel software platform features well-regarded product capabilities like real-time analytics and reporting that are proving integral to supporting the end-to-end customer journey. Gartner also spotlights Verint’s knowledge management and workforce engagement management features, which have been reinforced by strategic acquisitions, as evidence of its continued investment in its CEC offering.
Appian’s Customer Engagement Operations, formerly known as the Intelligent Contact Center, is the next Niche Player. According to the report, Appian’s most notable strengths are its product capabilities, process-driven application development platform, full-stack automation capabilities, and implementation support. The latter ensures that each new Appian customer can deploy their first application within eight weeks.
Creatio and eGain are ranked similarly in the Niche Player quadrant, but for different reasons. Creatio’s strengths are identified as being its ease of use, industry-specific solutions, and product functionalities like its case management and analytics features. Meanwhile, Gartner points to eGain’s customer success programs, like Gain 3-1-1 and the eGain Innovation in 30 Days program, and its automation and AI tools as standout features of its CEC services.
CRMNEXT’s CEC solution, CRMNEXT Service Management, received high marks for its scalability, professional services, which cover things like personalized customer journey maps and implementation services, and its customization tools that enable users to develop unique business flows. Meanwhile, SugarCRM offers a CEC solution known for its easy implementation, flexible customizability, customer service, and emphasis on integrations, as evidenced by its Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).
Cherwell, the only new vendor in this year’s report, offers a service management solution for mid-size and larger enterprises, specifically in B2B markets. Gartner’s report identifies Cherwell’s product functionality as one of its strengths, citing its flexibility, customization, and service management features. Other strengths include its competitive pricing and total cost of ownership (TCO) and its COVID-19 response, which consisted of a crisis management solution, a remote employee management solution, and flexible payment plans. Ivanti acquired the company in March 2021.
The final vendor listed is Zoho. Its customer service offering, Zoho Desk, is well regarded for its streamlined implementation, ease of use, and the value it offers relative to cost. Zoho also features a suite of integrative capabilities, as Zoho Desk can be easily integrated with other popular tools and Zoho products, like Zoho CRM, Creator, Forms, and Analytics.
Freshworks is the single Visionary in the 2021 report, although, like Verint, it skirts the line between Visionary and Niche Player. The company benefits from its evolving and multichannel services, especially when paired with its extensive marketplace of applications and connectors for its partners, customers, and developers. Gartner also notes Freshworks customer growth, support, and total cost of ownership (TCO) as being notable additions to the company’s offerings.