Creating solutions to critical business problems like sales opportunity management that are easier to use is critical for the tools to be accepted and for the industry to grow.
Posted Jan 5, 2004
CRM applications for large, midsize, and small businesses have many differences, but all have focused on adding better integration/synchronization with the personal information-management application that is already on more than 150 million business desktops: Microsoft Outlook. 2004 is the year that Outlook becomes a viable platform for contact management in the quest for easier to use solutions for tracking and managing sales opportunities.
Three major factors have created the opportunity for Outlook to take center stage. First, the slow economy required companies to continue to look for every efficiency in every aspect of their operations while analyzing new solutions against the cost of implementation including their CRM and sales opportunity management systems. Second, when larger companies downsized during tough economic times, more small businesses are created (which expands the lower end of the market for software applications). Third and most significant is Microsoft's release of .NET and a more comprehensive and reliable set of development objects for Office. This created the first opportunity for software developers to work at the object level of the Outlook.
2004--The year of Outlook as a platform for CRM
Ease-of-use is the single largest barrier to acceptance in any new software installation. Talk to any sales professional who has gone through deployment of a new CRM solution, small or large, and the refrain is similar: "With the new system I had to change the way I tracked and managed my sales leads and it was a major headache. I use less than 20 percent of the system when I actually use it. Besides, I'm already doing most of that stuff inside of Outlook. They are making more work for me instead of adding to my productivity."
Creating solutions to critical business problems like sales opportunity management that are easier to use is critical for the tools to be accepted and for the industry to grow. The return on the investment that large and small companies make in these tools is hinged on how well the workforce embraces the use and value of the tool. Outlook is a natural platform for day-to-day interactions with customers, clients, and coworkers due to the desktop ubiquity it represents.
About the Author
James Wong, cofounder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, has been an entrepreneur of three successful companies, including Avidian, which develops tools designed to enhance Outlook. Prior to Avidian he was cofounder and president of Foci Technologies, which in January 2001 was acquired by Meritage Technologies. Wong received a B.S. in business administration from the University of Washington.