Defined metrics may heal CRM reputation

A CTO recently told the story of his CEO insisting the company get CRM, even though it wasn't totally clear what exactly that meant. Improved customer relationship management should be at the top of every company's agenda, but IT executives implementing these applications should not repeat ERP's failure to generate meaningful business data.

In an atmosphere where many companies are still digesting unused software licences, IT can draw more value from CRM applications with a well-conceived business-intelligence strategy.

The leading reason to implement CRM applications is to get a comprehensive view of the customer. But for the right hand to know what the left hand is doing in customer interactions and analysis, multiple departments need to share information.

Unfortunately, data silos and fierce ownership of customer information persist in most organisations. Without a mandate to share data and internal metrics, analysts will have trouble determining, for instance, which customers are most profitable.

Better data can also help measure an improved customer experience -- another overlooked measurement.

There is a collision of operational CRM and business intelligence. As CRM vendors bolt that functionality to their core applications, business intelligence vendors have all built CRM templates.

Ultimately, CRM platforms will automate multiple business processes with analytics in a single package. But now users are left culling data from various vendors' applications. Without a commitment to interoperability in the form of Web services standards such as XML and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), customer analytics may be more like cracking open a safe than sifting for gold.

Are you finding value in your CRM applications? Write to david_beynon@idg.com.au

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