Manufacturing, communications and media to lead CRM adoption by 2011

CRM market forecast

As CRM becomes mobile, Australian adoption rates remain under 10 percent and still lag behind the US. However, Goldmine senior director Paul Petersen says the technology is less than two years from mass-market appeal, and says consumers are beginning to realize CRM's benefits, such as lead generation, by deploying it over multiple systems.

Where has CRM software evolved from, how strong is it now and where do you see it in the future?

CRM evolved from sales force management. Even today most businesses have not automated their sales forecasting processes or put their customer contacts in a single database for communication and customer retention purposes.

The big challenge for organizations is that it's no longer enough to implement CRM in just one department - it has to be integrated across multiple departments, including sales, marketing and customer service for lead generation and management activities. We are seeing a lot of marketing people who want to be linked to the sales system so that prospects can be transferred and shared seamlessly between the three departments. There is going to be a lot more emphasis on the process and workflow needed to facilitate this integration in 2007.

What is Australia's CRM adoption rates compared to the rest of the world?

While Australian organizations are fairly forward thinking, they lag slightly behind the US when it comes to CRM adoption. Beyond basic contact management, adoption rate are less than 10 percent, whereas the United States is passing the 10 percent mark. There are common business issues present in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the United Kingdom. China is asking the same forward thinking questions, despite their CRM adoption rate being much lower.

IDC recently predicted the manufacturing, communications and media, and healthcare industries to show the strongest growth in CRM software over the next five years, with compound annual growth rates of 8.1 percent, 8.0percent, and 7.2 percent, respectively. Do you agree with these figures? Why are these industries adopting CRM faster than others?

We continue to see manufacturing as one of our core markets. Communications and media organizations are also starting to look for increased control of their sales processes to counter the effects of deregulation and the emergence of new media markets and products.

We are seeing a lot of growth in networks consisting of dealers, resellers, agents or franchisees, which are after a common deployment platform for independent businesses.

Banking and finance is also going to be big in 2007 and these organizations, whether retail banks or investment brokerages, want horizontal solutions to integrate their different CRM initiatives.

Business and professional services are another growth market as are some other non-traditional CRM areas like healthcare, government and education. These non-traditional areas are implementing the same type of process management and CRM principles being used by those in traditional CRM markets; for example, to focus on retaining and taking care of customers rather than lead generation and building sales.

What is mobile CRM? How aware is industry of it and how long until it reaches mass-market appeal?

There are still some device limitations, particularly the capacity of the device to store only a few history items for each contact. My guess is that we are still approximately two years away from mass-market appeal. There is a lot of interest in mobile CRM but a lot of it is purely educational at this point.

The problem right now is the three competing platforms in the market - Blackberry, Palm and Microsoft Windows CE. Many mobile applications are designed to do little more than transmit contact information and basic calendar entries.

These contact management basics are helpful, but we are going to have to develop our Goldmine CRM solution separately for each platform in order to achieve the benefits of mobile CRM. Our strategy will be to develop a Goldmine application for each platform to take advantage of the unique features of each device, instead of having one solution for all three devices.

What CRM strategies does FrontRange have for the future?

From a product perspective, it's about having a couple of choices so that customers can pick the solution that best fits their requirements. In addition to our Goldmine corporate edition, which is based on Microsoft SQL, we plan to release an enterprise edition in 2007 which will be based on .NET, with an industry-standard business process mark-up language (BPML) engine to integrate sales and marketing processes, and assist in allowing data to pass between departments seamlessly. Integration is an important part of our strategy and is the cornerstone of our new product line. We also feel it will be a key differentiator for us in the market.

Success in the market will also come down to how we address buying factors such as flexibility in implementation options available. Whether organizations deploy their CRMs with channel partners and systems integrators, or implement it themselves, there must be flexibility and capability in the software and offering to support the approaches.

In North America, Microsoft also selected Goldmine corporate edition as part of the Vista business roll out in January 2007. We will be the only CRM solution that they will be talking about when they market Vista for the SME market, which is a pretty big endorsement and an interesting one considering Microsoft is also a competitor in the CRM space.

Who are the big players in CRM?

Salesforce.com, Microsoft, FrontRange Solutions and Sage are the big players; obviously each has a very different value proposition.

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