eCRM Forum Outlines Opportunities and Challenges

New York--The eCRM forum taking place in New York this week as part of the overall InternetWorld show explored some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the CRM market.

The forum kicked off with speakers covering various topics including the missing pieces in a CRM solution, legal advice for CRM vendors, real return on investment measurement guidelines, and understanding Internet analytics, to name a few. The forums ran all day on Tuesday and were split into two different tracks for show attendees to choose from.

One of the more interesting addresses came from Anthony Palladino, senior account executive at Evolve Software Inc. In his presentation, Palladino pointed out that a company's workers are the most undervalued assets on its balance sheet and CRM applications focusing on helping automate their jobs can save a company a lot of money and time.

To date, many eCRM solutions "do not leverage the largest untapped asset, and that is the workforce," Palladino said. "E-CRM is perfect for a product-focused organization [or a] services business," he said.

Palladino cited two eCRM case studies revolving around Evolve's offering: one with consulting giant Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS) and another with Fair, Isaac, and Company Inc. (FairIsaac).

EDS rolled out an eCRM solution globally to its E-Solutions group with plans to have 120,000 users eventually utilizing the system, according to Palladino. At the consulting concern, the sales department's systems were not tied into the service department's and now the company is much more efficient, he said.

As for FairIsaac, the company went was up and running on Evolve 4 in just 90 days with 1,600 users, Palladino said. The eCRM offering "is the glue between Oracle financial and Oracle HR systems," he added.

Also, at Internet World, there was plenty of advice to go around on what you should and should not do when it comes to your company's e-commerce and CRM systems. When it comes to the area of analytics, a discipline that is gaining a lot of interest, there was solid sage advice offered by Jonathan Becher, senior vice president of corporate development at Accure Software Inc.

"Web sites are a technical beast. Think of your Internet presence as a laboratory. To optimize your presence you are going to need various forms of Internet analytics to measure where people are going so you can make the adjustments that your site or CRM initiative may need," Becher told an audience during an educational track at the eCRM portion of the trade show.

For one thing, analytics is not easy because there are so many different ways to measure Web site "stickiness" or abandoned shopping carts. But no matter what methods you decide to employ to use to capture data, the most important thing is to make sure you capture all the data, Becher advised.

Becher proposed that companies use a "hybrid approach" when it comes to doing the business modeling of the data. He admits that data mining is not an exact science, but being able to cover all the bases leaves little room for error.

Coming up on Wednesday, Peppers and Rogers Group is sponsoring the eCRM tracks with topics ranging from the evolution of wireless to how to turn around a stalled CRM implementation.

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