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Spotlight Evaluation --- Onyx CRM Software Review

Onyx CRM Software Review


Special thanks to a number of for their assistance with this review.


Now under the auspices of Aptean, a roll-up which includes Onyx CRM, Pivotal CRM and Saratoga CRM among other enterprise software applications, Onyx supports more than 1,700 mid-market and enterprise customers in approximately 50 countries. While Onyx is largely known for its on-premise horizontal customer relationship management software suite, it also provides industry specific versions for the healthcare, financial services, professional services, contact center, high-technology and government vertical markets. The company's primary target market includes the Fortune 2000 or the Global 5000 and key customers include Amway Corporation, Mellon Financial Corporation, The Regence Group, Riggs Bank and State Street Corporation.


Onyx Corporate History

From its original headquarters in Kirkland, Washington, the company was formed in 1994 by a small group of former Microsoft employees. The first product was called EnCompass and released in 1995. The company went public in 1999, however, after transitional management teams and failing to advance in the public markets, the company was acquired by Made2Manage (M2M Holdings) in 2006. After its seventh software company acquisition, M2M later changed its corporate name to Consona in 2007. Onyx CRM combined with another Consona acquisition, Knova’s Service Resolution Management, and Million Handshakes, forms the basis of the newly branded "Consona CRM". The integrated KNOVA V7 software solution used knowledge management and flexible searching to facilitate an intelligent and configurable customer experience. The customer service system provides impressive user forums, self-service capabilities, field service, knowledge desk and guided selling aids. Million Handshakes is a marketing automation and customer dialog solution from technology partner Million Handshakes. Finally, in August 2012, Aptean was formed from the merger of CDC Software and Consona Corporation.


Onyx Software Technology

Onyx technology was originally created from Microsoft technologies such as Visual Basic and SQL Server. While the product began as a client/server (fat client) solution, it has slowly but steadily evolved to a thin(ner) client, (although not a zero footprint) that is .NET based and with a SOA (service oriented architecture). The product technology remains Microsoft-centric, the XML web services and multiple-tier, component-based distributed architecture grant significant scalability for enterprise customers and the designer tools permit flexible business rules and user defined workflow routines to accommodate challenging business processes.


Onyx takes a unique building block approach to delivering integrated Customer Relationship Management software modules. Unlike traditional CRM systems which package line of business software modules based on departmental functions (e.g. sales force automation (SFA), marketing management and customer support), Onyx CRM includes just three process oriented software applications, with each covering a range of divisions, tasks, and capabilities. These three individually-purchased software components – customer management, process management, and performance management – are designed to consolidate disparate and often disjointed processes across sales, marketing and service and ultimately enable faster and more predictable execution of customer-facing business activities.


Onyx CRM Strengths & Weaknesses

The Onyx CRM Customer Management module resembles an online employee-based portal used for all company staff, a partner information portal for sales and marketing staff, and a customer information portal for marketing and customer support teams. Sales and support users can leverage wireless and mobile capabilities and marketing professionals can use advanced email features as part of their campaigns. The Onyx CRM Process Management component permits business process workflow configuration and a designer tool to fairly easily script, implement, and test business rules for customer-facing activities. The Onyx CRM Performance Management module provides impressive scorecarding, reporting, analytical analysis, using OLAP (online analytical processing) cubes and configurable dashboards.


Onyx weaknesses include the lack of a SaaS or cloud CRM solution, dated software in desperate need of a technology refresh, weak marketing software and a potentially weak or unstable parent company. The least impressive software capability in the Onyx CRM portfolio is the marketing software. Marketing campaign management, event management, distribution tracking and campaign analysis have been weaknesses of Onyx for a very long time.


Key competitive feature sets of the Onyx CRM software system include the following:

  • Onyx does a good job at delivering an integrated 360 degree customer view. The Employee Portal offers a flexible, extensible and scalable data architecture and capability to control the user interface presentation and workflow design in order to create and deliver a unique and highly relevant user experience.

  • The graphically pleasing user-interface (UI) provides key customer information in a consolidated location for strong ease of use and knowledge sharing among across all customer touches and activities.

  • Seamless email, calendar and task list integration with Microsoft Outlook increases user productivity.

  • Pervasive use of real-time analytical information is available in reports, dashboards and date warehouse online analysis.

  • Customer interactions, activities and touch points are easily consolidated across the multiple channels of Web, e-mail, phone or in person communication.

  • Flexible business rule and scripting customization allow customers to create simple to relatively complex business process automation.

  • An intuitive and flexible software customization tool permits system administrators some ability to graphically customize the CRM system for their business. Onyx provides a tools suite that permits users multiple methods to configure, change and manage the user interface and business processes without necessarily making source code modifications. This allows the customer to modify the CRM software system for unique or complex business processes, escalations, routing, alerts or notifications without complex CRM software development.

  • The system administration platform tools (such as SQL Generation) facilitate smoother upgrades and provide greater extensibility.

Aptean Overview

Aptean (formerly Consona and CDC Software) is an M&A roll-up type company that through its acquisitions provides integrated enterprise business software systems for many types of companies, including small and midsized assemble-to-order (ATO), make-to-order (MTO), make-to-stock (MTS), engineer-to-order (ETO), and mixed mode discrete manufacturers. The holding company is headquartered in the Atlanta area and employs staff in the US, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom.


Aptean is private, venture financed and unclear in company and product direction. Customers may incur significant short term or long-term risk due to continued acquisitions, divestitures and the fluid nature of the companies M&A heritage and continued operation.


  Forrester Onyx CRM Review


Forrester analyst William Band, offered his own generally favorable assessment of the Onyx CRM software system.


According to Band in a research comment of a few years ago, "The Onyx CRM solution has been in the market for a decade and was one of the first enterprise CRM solutions to adopt a flexible, three-tier architecture, with tight alignment to Microsoft technologies. The company was taken private by the better-capitalized M2M Holdings in August 2006 — which will help allay buyer concerns about the long-term viability of the product and company.


The product's strongest functional areas are in sales and customer service. But it lacks deep functionality in many areas, including marketing, field service, customer data management, eCommerce, and partner channel management.


Onyx is best suited for buyers who want a flexible CRM solution — with business process management (BPM) capabilities — that leverages Microsoft infrastructure technologies."


CRM software reviews


While design and system administration tools were reviewed, the Onyx CRM system review considered only the generally available, unaltered (out of the box) CRM software application.

Onyx & Consona CRM Reference Sites

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