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CRM Success Stories Are Abundant
Highly publicized cases of past CRM failures are no reason to condemn an entire category of technology.
Posted Apr 7, 2003
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Aberdeen Group's latest report, "What Works: Ten Significant CRM Implementations in 2002," wants to illustrate that isolated, highly publicized cases of past CRM failures are no reason to condemn an entire category of technology. The Boston market researcher shows that CRM success stories are easily found, and includes valuable lessons and best practices that can help others. In fact, there were so many entries vying for Aberdeen's "Top Ten Significant CRM Implementations of 2002," it was difficult to narrow the field, according to the report's author Denis Pombriant, vice president and managing director of Aberdeen's CRM practice. Entries came from as far away as Australia. "There is a lot of negative information about CRM out there and a lot of it is speculative," Pombriant says. "This survey proves that success stories are not hard to find, and that CRM is something that can be done effectively, profitably, and successfully." The report showcases examples of excellence in CRM implementations across of a range of different industries, companies of varying sizes, focusing on different problems and solutions. However, it is not a ranking. Pombriant adds that ROI continues to be a major theme in the CRM industry, and that 2002 was no exception. "We wanted to identify cases where implementations succeeded and where the customer could point to a return they received from the implementation," he says. Here are the top 10: Newell Rubbermaid (Art Technology Group), Cable & Wireless (ChannelWave Software), Arizona Department of Transportation (FrontRange Solutions), Beazer Homes USA (Online Insight), Engage (Salesforce.com), PepsiAmericas (PeopleSoft), Avnet (SalesLogix), Sovereign Bank (Salesnet), Boehriner Ingelheim (Siebel Systems), Hitachi (Selectica). Pombriant cites a few examples of interesting findings. For example, drug company Boehriner Ingelheim had been analyzing its business from a CRM perspective for years, before it ever purchased its Siebel Systems solution, he says. "All that analysis meant there were no false moves and they had a clear idea of all their business processes," Pombriant says. "Understanding your business needs--you can't get away from that. Unless you do it, you don't know if you need CRM. It's never a bad idea to have a deep understanding of business before changing it."
However, Pombriant adds a tip. "There is great value in doing that analysis alone with vendors," he says. "When you present a business problem to vendors they try and solve it. Your problem is the nail and they always have the hammer." Another obvious-but-important finding is the need to involve key executives at the highest level in driving adoption. At Engage, a spin-off of CMGI, the entire executive staff was involved in the selection of Salesforce.com. "That sent a message to everyone in the company about how important this decision was," Pombriant says. However, he adds that in addition to buy-in from the top brass, a company should identify project leaders to see that adoption is achieved in all company tiers. Rather than implementing CRM by region or department, Boehriner identified its best performers in the company and leaders that others look up to. The thinking was that if they champion the system others will follow, Pombriant says. The study also includes some information released at the end of March about CRM spending intentions and customer satisfaction (http://www.destinationcrm.com/articles/default.asp?ArticleID=3040), where Aberdeen states that this year's CRM outlook looks to be much rosier than last year's, when spending on CRM slowed and users focused on highly publicized failure rates.
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