Enterprise relationship management (ERM), customer relationship management (CRM), system infrastructure and collaborative technologies have the highest priority on enterprises' investment agenda, according to a recent survey by International Data Corp. (IDC).
In the study covering over 900 IT professionals in major geographies across the Asia-Pacific region, IDC found that 35.3 percent of respondents put top priority on ERM investments in 2001, up from 33.4 percent in 2000.
Looking at another angle, the percentage of enterprises with no external budget for ERM solutions dropped from 17 percent to 8 percent.
According to IDC, a number of enterprises are turning to strategic solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM and supply chain management (SCM) to help them streamline business processes so they are able to better manage inventory, fulfillment, distribution and customer service in order to stay competitive.
One company that believes in the strategic importance of ERM and CRM is logistics operator Danzas Group.
"Our ERM and CRM solutions are our value-added services to customers and these have greatly enhanced our logistics solutions. These advanced IT solutions have won us many projects," said its head of IT Ko Guan Seng. "Our customers optimize the efficiencies of these IT infrastructures in that they gain better control of their operations, operate on a greater level of transparency and can therefore make informed decisions."
Last year, Danzas' IT spending for Asia-Pacific was 16 million euros (US$14.2 million), and the amount is estimated to increase by 37.5 percent to about 22 million euros in year 2002.
"The attractiveness of ERM solutions lies in their ability to automate and optimize the management of corporate resources, such as people, finances, materials, facilities and intellectual capital required to meet business objectives by tracking, routing and analyzing information concerning these assets," said Robin Giang, IDC's senior analyst, Investment and Strategy Research.
As with ERM solutions, businesses view CRM solutions not only a technology but also as a business strategy.
The ability of CRM solutions to facilitate enterprises in providing their customers with consistent customer information across sales, marketing and service touch points, regardless of whether that transaction is via voice, e-mail, the Web or wireless devices, is the main appeal behind CRM investments today. "In Asia-Pacific, CRM has been on the radar screen of many enterprises the past couple of years," Giang said.
"Even Asian businesses are coming to terms with the fact that the customer is now king and they had better revolutionize the way they have traditionally focused on their customers, including how to create and manage customer relationships as well as how to assess the effectiveness of such relationships," said Giang.
However, while the rewards of a CRM rollout could be enormous, enterprises in Asia-Pacific are still holding back on CRM investments.
"Many enterprises still need to be convinced of the value-add and rapid return on investment of a CRM deployment before actual dollars will be spent," said Giang.