CRM Remains a Fertile Market
Forty-two percent of U.S. companies are using CRM, according to new market research from the consulting firm KensingtonHouse, and the percentage just keeps on growing. Even more notable, in terms of current and future growth, is the fact that CRM's "market fertility" -- the percentage of companies deploying, upgrading, or actively considering a CRM purchase -- stands at 38 percent, according to the report.
The market-fertility figure is the metric KensingtonHouse chose to highlight, as it reveals a record number of companies deploying or planning to deploy CRM. "This is significantly above what I've seen historically, which has been 18 to 25 percent fertility," says Thomas Moriarty, the consultancy's president.
According to the survey, the main reason for the current wave of CRM popularity is the maturity of the on-demand delivery model and functionality set. Fifty-five percent of respondents expressed a preference for on-demand, with a mere 14 percent nominating on-premise and 31 percent undecided. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents were either small or midsize businesses (SMBs), but Moriarty says that the preference for on demand extended to the enterprise segment as well. The research, sponsored by Microsoft CRM partner T.H.G. Sales Automation, canvassed 437 respondents representing a population of 20,000 companies with a degree of accuracy of plus or minus 5 percent.
On demand is succeeding because of both its low cost and its simplicity, Moriarty says, adding that KensingtonHouse estimates the model can lower the cost of a CRM deployment by as much as 60 percent while also offering an increasingly user-friendly experience. "Customization is so easy now that you don't have to be a bits-and-bytes guy to go in and create all kinds of different fields, reports, and dashboards," he says.
While on-demand initiatives may be easier to implement than on-premise ones, adopters of either variety should still be aware of the significant risks of project failure. Gartner recently predicted that, by the end of 2008, "25 percent of CRM projects will be postponed or canceled because of the CRM skill shortage in consultants and systems integrators." While this sounds like an inordinately high number to industry outsiders, Moriarty emphasizes that it has to be taken in context. "Three years ago, that number would have been 75 percent," he claims.
The good news is not only that the ecosystem of CRM consultants and systems integrators has matured through continued CRM implementation success, but also that CRM adopters can control their own fates by making CRM an institutional priority. The recent Management Tools and Trends 2007
report from management consultancy Bain & Co. revealed that companies that put more effort into CRM up front (including long-term planning, unwavering executive sponsorship, and diligent change management) get more out of the technology. In the Bain survey, those companies who put a "major effort" into CRM reported a 4.17 satisfaction score on a five-point scale, while those putting in a "limited effort" were only able to achieve a 3.53 score.
That data point alone should convince any CRM adopter aiming to maximize return on investment to enter into the implementation prepared and willing to put in some heavy lifting. "You have to maintain the quality of data and make sure to load a good set of business rules that specify how the system is going to be used," Moriarty counsels. "You have to do the work."
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