Reactive CRM strategies reap few benefits, warned Consultancy Plaut, one of the largest European implementation consultancies with 1,800 consultants worldwide, during an SAP debate on CRM. Karl Thurston, UK managing director for Plaut, remarked that many companies were just looking for enabling technologies imagining they had already worked out their strategy. "Companies should look for business benefits, and return on investment," he noted. "Although there's been an advance on six months ago when people were just looking for sales, or customer service, organizations still need to think this through up front."
He added that CRM might go the way of ERP, where companies have implemented different projects and are now revisiting them with application integration technologies to pull benefits out. "Organizations are waking up to the fact they have to integrate different projects, particularly if they want return on investment." Plaut would take customers back to the first stage of its methodology, he said, if it felt they were not going to get the full benefit. "A lot of companies don't want to hear that, and as an organization we would point out they need to think about it and call in the key decision makers and set up a roadmap."
SAP is making a major push into CRM, with an integrated offering based on its data warehouse and adding in functionality from partners including Nortel Networks. Andrew Munday, marketing manager at the German giant, said: "Organizations can string transaction and relationship data together today, but they're still working out what to do with it." However, independent consultant Nick Hewson pointed out that most CRM projects were point solutions. "A lot of projects on the ground are still point of pain, usually in terms of operational systems. Integration comes some way down the line."
In the back-office, large companies are only now finding the true cost of their ERP implementations. Many have found that because of political and cultural divisions they have ended up with a number of different systems in different countries. Others have been disappointed not to have better management information at the end of a project, which ironically often provides the motivation for such systems in the first place.