CRM Drives Real-Time Enterprise
CRM is still the hottest area in the technology sector and is driving the industry towards the real-time enterprise, according to industry executives attending DCI's Customer Relationship Management Conference & Expo in Boston.
Despite some over-hyped failure rates and general weak technology spending among companies, the CRM market is growing healthily and becoming more integrated into enterprise systems, executives said during the first day of the show. "CRM became the number one revenue generator for software applications last year on a licensing basis and it is not going to go down. It is going to stay number one," said Barton Goldenberg , president of ISM Inc., a CRM consultancy firm. "ERP is not going to catch up and supply chain [applications are] not going to catch up."
Why is CRM still growing? There are many factors weighing heavily in the favor of CRM, according to Goldenberg and others. For one, it appears corporate executives are finally starting to realize that CRM is a business strategy that needs to be embraced, well thought out and closely measured instead of looked at simply as a technology solution.
"CRM is a comprehensive process that provides seamless coordination between all customer facing functions by integrating people, process and technology to optimize relationships with customers," said Dean Athanasia, executive vice president of strategic marketing at FleetBoston.
And Athanasia should know. Two years ago Fleet's Wholesale Bank sales force needed to optimize capital and grow the business by cross selling the banks other services. The firm embraced a Siebel Systems CRM platform to develop a common sales force automation system to unify customer, product and marketing information.
As a result, Fleet as increased its cross-selling revenue by 13 percent, increased the number of products it sells per customer and decreased its dependency on credit revenue, Athanasia said.
But Fleet is not alone, according to Christopher Fletcher, vice president and research director at Aberdeen Group. Fletcher sees more companies from corporate enterprises to medium businesses carefully evaluating CRM as core company strategy. This is helping to drive the real-time enterprise concept, he said.
"All companies are now trying to focus not simply on the technology CRM has to offer, but the business benefits," Fletcher said. "In a high value, B-to-B environment, customers want to know everything in real time. It starts with the shipment of an order through any channel." Aberdeen is currently putting together a white paper on the real-time enterprise, he said.
Goldenberg agreed saying "CRM is the prerequisite for the real-time enterprise." Because of the integration experience, customer touch focus and continued increase of Web commerce and services, CRM is the "building blocks" of the real-time enterprise, he said.
In fact, 1.8 percent of all retail purchases are not made on the Web, which will translate to $40 billion this year, Goldenberg said. Plus, those who purchase goods on the Internet have a 70 percent satisfaction rating compared with 75 percent satisfaction rating in retail stores.
"We have more people on the Web spending and happier," Goldenberg said. This all leads to continued growth for the CRM industry, he said.