Tiny CRM Services Firm's Grand Opening

The Customer Management Gurus Group (CMG) officially opened its doors today, offering CRM consulting and integration services on the cheap. Founded last year by a handful of consultants, CMG also utilizes a network of 25 independent contractors, called Subject Matter Experts. CMG specializes in 16 industries, such as automotive, heath care, manufacturing and retail. Mari Barringhaus, co-founder of CMG, says her firm provides a range of services, from call-center consulting to Siebel, Onyx and other CRM vendors' software implementations. Projects range from $500 thousand to $1 million in size; and CMG bids often go head-to-head with bids from the Big Five consultancies, says Barringhaus. Already CMG claims many blue-chip customers, including United States Custom Services, Microsoft and AT&T Wireless. CMG's entrance into the market follows the growing buzz around CRM services, particularly in contact-center outsourcing, consulting and marketing services, according to Forrester Research. Services-based revenue will take a lion's share of the overall market, in comparison to software licensing revenues, Forrester reported in a recent study. The reason is that companies want to squeeze more value out of software that they've already bought. Indeed, services already drive up the cost of CRM projects dramatically. And this is precisely the reason why Barringhaus believes her company can beat the competition. By employing a virtual work-force model, whereby consultants work from home offices, overhead is kept at a minimum. This means CMG is able to provide services "at a little over half the rates of big consultancy firms," says Barringhaus, a former consultant at META Group. CMG's coup de grace, though, is deferred billing until 2003, a feature that resonates well in today's budget-strapped market. It's a risky bet for a start-up, but one Barringhaus and her partners are willing to take. CMG is backed by private funding, including cash from Barringhaus' real estate ventures.
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