20 years of CRM expertise at Cantata

Cantata was formed as an independent CRM consultancy in 2002, and so 2022 sees our 20th anniversary. We looked back on some of our analysis of the last 20 years, and consider how much has changed in this time, while some issues seem just the same!

Our first blog article in 2002 was looking at the CRM implementation services market, as the major consultancies entered the space. “Massive cost overruns, unclear Return on Investment (ROI) and dubious benefits” were a problem; we think it’s fair to say that the implementation of CRM systems has become much more successful over time, but they still encounter overruns, and measurement and management of ROI is still overlooked by a majority of organisations we encounter.” An important part of our work continues to be assisting organisations in the development of strategy, business cases and ROI analysis for their CRM initiatives.

In January 2003, we looked at predictions for the new year. The market was dominated by Siebel, and we wondered if Peoplesoft were going to make an impact – they were later bought by Siebel in a wave of market consolidation. Microsoft had made noises about its new CRM product and, although delayed, we anticipated this would make a huge impact on the market. This was a time of perpetual licenses and budgeting for servers and server licenses. The dream of Software As A Service (SaaS) licensing was in its infancy. Salesforce.com had just started selling internationally, having been founded in 1999. Ironically, SaaS licensing models now can seem more complicated than their predecessors, we now have specialists in our team who spend significant time understanding the complexities of commercial terms and advise on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and potential commercial risks in CRM implementations.

By 2004 it’s interesting that our analysis saw the first merging of the objectives of CRM programmes with wider process automation. Integrated business process automation and workflow was a major development in the CRM market. We now see digital transformation programmes, with a CRM system at their core but wider web portal/e-commerce functionality as a key focus of organisations, as organisations look to implement more advanced CRM, process automation and channel (web, mobile etc.) support in one transformation programme. Over the years we have expanded our engineering team to include not just the core operational CRM expertise, but specialist knowledge around analytics and reporting, web portal capabilities and e-commerce.

In 2007 we first identified the shift to the “mid-market”, which we termed implementations of up to around 500 seats. This shift from large, enterprise deployments to more cost effective implementations has really driven the growth of Cantata (and the market in general) and the majority of our projects are now in the range of 50-250 users.

By 2012, Cantata was 10 years old, and we were recruiting for our new Oxford engineering centre. We had realised that commoditising some of the configuration and components we developed again and again for our clients was sensible, so Cantata Vantage was born. The ability to re-use the specialist CRM enhancements and wide range of collateral we have developed made our offerings much richer, and de-risked and reduced timeframes for implementation projects. We have continued to grow the engineering centre and now support thousands of users worldwide from our Oxford base.

If you have a need for CRM expertise to assist your organisation, we would be delighted to bring our 20 years of experience to bear.