Making CRM work for you: Part I

In this two part special on CRM, we will hear from customers of major CRM players--including Siebel Systems, Peoplesoft, Oracle, Avaya and SAP--on how they measure return on investment for these colossal projects.

update "When considering customer relationship management (CRM), many enterprises fall into the trap of believing that technology will solve all their problems.

"They fail to realize that technology is only an enabler, supporting the strategies, tactics and processes that are the result of CRM," writes GartnerGroup's S. Nelson.

And in a March report on customer relationship management (CRM), Gartner claimed that up to 60 percent of worldwide CRM implementations fail to meet expectations.

Gartner also forecasted worldwide CRM software and services spending will reach US$76.3 billion in 2005, up from US$23 billion last year while Frost & Sullivan predicts that Asia Pacific CRM revenues will top US$5 billion by 2007.

Are these statistics for real?

In this two part special on CRM, we will hear from customers of major CRM players--including Siebel Systems, Peoplesoft, Oracle, Avaya and SAP--on how they measure return on investment for these colossal projects.

They will also share their many challenges and pitfalls users should be aware of before deploying a CRM application.

But why do companies implement this technology? Are they misled into thinking that CRM stands for Customer Retention Miracle?

In part I, we look at recent challenges and issues facing MIS managers and customers seeking to deploy CRM solutions.

Can you handle CRM?
Trying to master customer relationship management (CRM) suites these days is somewhat akin to attempting to eat not-quite-solid Jell-O with a fork.
CRM suites tackle sales-force management, customer communications (call centers, e-mail and Web chats), internal help-desk operations, and even self-service Web sites. But in trying to do everything, some CRM packages wind up doing nothing.

A big hand from CRM
Smaller companies have not joined in the CRM party due to its high costs and complexity. Ask a manager if he has thought about deploying sales force automation (SFA) software from Siebel Systems, customer call center applications from PeopleSoft or marketing tools from Oracle, and he'll ask you not to be offended while he laughs.

Playing the CRM odds
There are all kinds of competitive-edge technologies being deployed by businesses today. Many technologies - such as Web-based supply chain management software, which we wrote about last week - may be difficult to deploy. But hard-pressed companies have beaten the odds and successfully implemented SCM systems. Then there are other technologies - such as some new forms of virtual private networks, which we explore in this week's issue - that are turning out to be, shall we say, works in progress.

Knock-out CRM deployments
It's common knowledge that enterprise software markets and IT budgets have taken a beating this year. Amid all the gloom, there's been one bright spot--customer relationship management (CRM). The category has been on a roll and most analyst reports project that CRM will continue growing faster than other enterprise software categories.

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