CRM frenzy builds despite ugly tales

Australia is at the centre of a "CRM frenzy" despite questionable ROI and ugly tales of failed implementations.

Most enterprises have a minimum of three CRM-related applications in place and are planning big dollar strategies,although it is "very hard to measure", the Australasian managing director of Genesys, James Brooks, told Computerworldyesterday.

Speaking at Force 01, the annual Genesys user group conference in Melbourne, Brooks said CRM strategies have to be"owned" by the CEO to overcome divisions between IT staff, marketing and the chief financial officer (CFO).

"IT spending on these projects has moved from the reactive days of Y2K and the GST to being proactive, so enterprisewants strong ROI which isn't always easy with CRM," he said.

"I have heard more about ROI in the past 12 months than the last 16 years of being in IT; the CFO pressure is strongand deals just won't go through without figures."

Brooks attributed high failure rates to projects that neglect business processes.

"CRM is not just an IT issue, the software is great but it's not always followed up with good business processes andthe alignment of company divisions; CRM success is very reliant on people and their ability to follow through onboard-level strategies."

The two-day conference was opened by Genesys CEO Ad Nederlof who estimates the average enterprise has 14 databases anda myriad of different applications making a CRM strategy a big integration issue.

"But customers won't wait, so companies need to move fast starting with the front end to manage real-time customerinteraction, then worry about the back end," Nederlof said.

He also announced the availability of Genesys Express in Australia, a packaged call centre solution with apre-configured template that can be deployed in less than two weeks.

Call centre company SalesForce also announced the installation of Genesys computer telephony integration (CTI) inAustralia to service its contract with Web travel booking venture Travel Exchange Asia.

The B2B and B2C travel portal is a joint venture between 11 airlines, including Qantas, Malaysia Airlines and US onlinetravel agency Travelocity.

More than 300 participants attended the conference, which featured call centre case studies from Telstra and the NSWPolice.

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