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Companies Need Better IT Plumbing
Posted Jan 23, 2002
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Companies are lacking the adequate IT infrastructures to manage their CRM systems, according to a recent survey by PwC Consulting.

Many enterprise companies do not have the proper IT infrastructures and are having a tough time making CRM work because of factors that include a lack of CRM integration initiatives across marketing, sales and service channels and lack of integration between front and back office systems, the study states. The "Multi-Channel Value Qualification" survey based on interviews with executives from 225 Global 2000 companies, found that many of the respondents have not achieved "channel mastery" in CRM.

The problem facing many corporate CRM strategies is that companies are throwing people at the problem, says Sam Kapreilian, partner of PwC's Management Consulting Practice. "They have large call centers and it is a large expense for these organizations, and what they haven't done is adapted their infrastructures to support multi-channel requirements for their customers. That includes wireless, the phone and the Web," he says.

In many instances across large Fortune 500 type firms, the call center is usually not connected to the back-end operational system, Kapreilian says. "You place an order on the Web, you are not sure where it is. You call the call center and they don't have visibility to where it is or they have to go into another system." He says such infrastructure scenarios means there is a lack of a multi-channel integration that gives a 360-degree view of the customer.

The PwC survey found that about 75 percent of the companies polled are still trying to mesh their front-to-back office operations. In addition, 60 percent of the companies polled reported that their cross-channel integration still needs improvement, while only 25 percent reported that they reached their cross-channel integration.

Much of the disconnected CRM is related to infrastructure problems where companies have installed too many point solutions and where executives have not looked at their CRM and infrastructure initiatives as part of a broader picture, says Kapreilian.

But the good news, he says, companies are taking a step back and rethinking their IT architectures. "You will see more of a standardization around the number of platforms and see companies dealing with fewer vendors," he says.

In taking a more cautious look at their infrastructures, Kapreilian says, IT departments are being more careful in planning CRM initiatives with a three-to-five year view as opposed to increasing their investments in their stand-alone Web sites.

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