• January 21, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Required Reading: Tracking the Evolution of CRM

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In the most recent collaboration by Accenture's CRM strategists, Defying The Limits: Mastering High Performance CRM takes a unique vantage point for surveying the past, present, and future of CRM. Accordingly, this year's theme is "The Evolution of CRM." Organized into four chapters that scrutinize recent developments, potential challenges, and future scenarios, Defying The Limits
is a pointed commentary. CRM magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with coauthor of Defying The Limits Sajid Usman, a partner in Accenture's Customer Interaction practice. CRM magazine: Why did you choose to make this year's theme "The Evolution of CRM?" Sajid Usman: What we've seen over the past year or so is a shift in CRM by the leading-edge companies, the folks that are out there who are really customer-centric today--from CRM meaning tactical technology initiatives to CRM meaning change initiatives. Historically, everybody has been focused on technology [and] cost takeout: Make call centers cheaper, and make call center reps more efficient. Now a lot of companies are asking, How do I change my organization, how do I change my business processes, how do I use the data I've got? It's changing CRM into a business phrase, as opposed to a technology phrase. CRM magazine: Why is it important to understand the different approaches to CRM based on industry demands? Usman: First, a lot of industries are different, whether you're talking about the retail industry, which is historically anonymous until point-of-sale, or whether you take the business-to-business space, where you're executing product sales, or you take communications or financial services, where it's a service-orientated relationship. So every industry has very different approaches to how they deal with customers. Understanding that across the industry is really important; it's just different ways to interact with customers. CRM magazine: What's important about the four key segments cited in the book? Usman: When we think about CRM we think about it as a closed loop, but you have to start somewhere; you have to start with a strategy. You go from strategic, to analytic, to operational CRM. There are different themes that go through all that, so it's really about understanding your marketplace, understanding your brand, understanding the impact of that on the marketplace and the relationship with your customers. Then you have an area that talks about the analytics, how you bring that data together and how you understand your customers and your prospects and then how you bring that to life in an operational environment. That's what we really tried to get at in the book, really trying to segment these things, not only for the types of readers, like chief marketing officers who might focus on one chapter of the book, but also to help people structure their thoughts around CRM. It's a big topic. As you evolve into thinking about changing your organization, not just your technology, you have to break that down so you can go and address it. Other Page Turners:
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