CRM needs to look to the back end

Customer relationship management works best if it can handle unstructured data, says Siebel's competitor Oceanus

CRM systems need to focus more on back-end integration of unstructured data, according to systems integrator Oceanus, which launched the new version of its Starfish communications management product last week. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are typically used in the 'front office', juggling structured data -- information entered into forms. Starfish, by contrast, is a back-office product that can accept unstructured data from fax, phone, Web forms, SMS, email and paper sources. All correspondence is stored and linked intelligently, allowing companies to communicate in a format dictated by the customer. The company directors were loath to tag the product as CRM, despite saying one of its main competitors is Seibel, a CRM producer. As well as dealing with unstructured information, the product is also faster to implement, and has a better return on investment, said Oceanus' chairman Nick Rowley. The product is already in use at Zurich Financial Services. This company had been finding that document storage was eating into its office space. With Starfish the company managed to intregrate the information without the need to expand or move offices. Peter Taylor, project manager for Zurich, said that the implementation time was adhered to and the fixed price meant he had no financial worries. Staff training was also a non-issue as it was easy for the employees to understand the benefits of the new system. By comparison, Taylor said "I have heard horror stories about other companies losing half their staff after implementation of similar software."

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