Former CRM consulting arm of SPL WorldGroup, WorldGroup Consulting, has split from the global business consultancy and systems integrator to take on the "Big Five" professional services arena.
WorldGroup Consulting is the IT, e-commerce and customer relationship management (CRM) services spin-off of energy and utilities business SPL WorldGroup.
The new entity claims its "vendor-neutral" stance will force it into a 100 per cent customer focus.
"There is confusion in the marketplace," said Stephen Bool, managing director of WorldGroup Consulting Australia. "There needs to be clarity of what businesses do. CRM is about . . . giving customers geographical and real-time access to business information and [creating] self-service channels," he said.
The company pledges to keep CRM as well as "customer-focused business solutions" at the forefront of their counsel, Bool said.
CRM had become more crucial for the banking, utilities and telecommunications industries since degregulating, according to Bool - a trend which he said was forcing companies to become more competitive and therefore more customer focused.
"Currently many companies have product-based systems and don't actually know the relationship they have with their customer, if they know who the customer is at all," Bool asserted.
Moreover, he believed the term CRM had been "flogged to death" since taking off in Australia in the last decade.
According to Bool, headcount at WorldGroup's Australian operation will grow steadily from 100 consultants - half the number of global employees - to 150 over the next year. However, getting the "right people" - those with a strong "customer-orientation" - was a major "constraint" for the firm, he conceded.
WorldGroup will conduct a stringent local recruitment drive, hiring only e-commerce and e-business specialists with "niche expertise", Bool said.
While the firm is relishing the opportunity to compete with the Big 5 consulting houses - Andersen Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young, Deloitte Consulting and Arthur Anderson - Bool said the major challenge for the new entity was the ability to access the Big Five's existing industry relationships and lucrative customer base, saying they had "bedded down" comfortably with the local IT industry.
WorldGroup predicts it will sustain its 50 per cent annual growth projection over the next few years, drawing revenue heavily from Asia. Forty six per cent of the local region's CRM expenditure will come from Asia over the next year, according to Bool.
The company's Australian client base includes NRMA, Zurich, Macquarie Bank, David Jones, Peakhour, Coats Hire and Bankers Trust. Local revenue exceeds $15 million (representing half of the firm's global annual earnings) and is forecast to reach $24 million in 2001.