CRM the next ERP?: Gartner

Customer relationship management (CRM) projects driven purely by technology imperatives could go the way of similarly managed (and failed) ERP implementations, according to a Gartner analysis.

"The big disillusionment with enterprise resource plannning (ERP) implementations was not due to their lack of functionality, but due to the way things were implemented, and there is a danger of this occurring with CRM," says Neil McMurchy, research director, enterprise applications at Gartner.

"You can see the ERP scenario happening all over again with CRM as there are so many technology driven implementations. People are looking for the magic technology bullet here, [but] the hard stuff is in the front end [strategic project planning, and in working out] how you change the culture to engage with a customer. Organisations must think about business objectives first."

McMurchy, who views CRM as a business strategy with enabling technology, said the fundamental problem is that a lot of organisations are not sitting down and asking the really hard questions first: like "who are the customers, what sort of relationship do we want to have with that customer or different customer segments.

Organisations also need to be aware that no one CRM suite vendor can provide all their requirements, claims McMurchy. "Certainly for large organisations we do not see any single CRM suite vendor satisfying any more than about 50 per cent of requirements."

Mark Camilleri, MD of Onyx Software, argues that any CRM implementation, small, medium or large, requires a degree of integration.

"What is needed is for vendors to be a little more responsible. Our IT industry has a history of overselling and under delivering. In CRM if you don't put the people and process first, it just won't work."

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