Consultants Deserve Respect

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Adam Klaber sits in his office on Madison Avenue, shaking his head in peaceful understanding as I rattle off the current challenges facing the CRM industry. Customer dissatisfaction! Failed implementations! Shrinking IT budgets! Poor vendor service! As I begin to get myself all worked up, the interview starts to feel more like a shrink-to-patient relationship, my voice resonating higher with each issue while Klaber's eyes close and his face wears a slight grin that projects calm.

Klaber, managing partner at PwC's CRM practice, keeps this demeanor despite analysts, industry strategists, and yes, the press pointing their fingers at big consultancies as part of the reason for poor customer satisfaction levels with regards to CRM implementations. But Klaber is not nodding his head in an admission of guilt. Rather, it is in recognition of the past problems as well as the near-term concerns of corporate customers embracing CRM initiatives.

The way I see it, you can carve this world up into two different kinds of people: those who see a problem and do nothing but complain about it, and those who identify trouble areas and then set a course for correction. Klaber is made of the fabric of the latter. He sits atop a $1 billion-plus CRM practice at one of the world's biggest consultancies and knows the value CRM brings to his enterprise clients. He is not ready to be the poster child for what is wrong with the CRM industry. Instead, he would rather focus on what needs to be done to move it forward. And he is in a good position to do so. Consultants are the glue holding the CRM industry together. As PeopleSoft Vice President of strategy Simon Walls told me at a recent industry event, practically no CRM implementation would get done without a consultant's involvement. They are that critical--plain and simple. They are the oil in the engine. The gas in the tank. The yeast in the bread. Pick an analogy.

The reason is clear: CRM is not simply an investment in technology. It's a corporate strategy that needs to be set and embraced by the top officers of an organization. CRM is truly where the technological rubber meets the strategic road. And only consulting organizations such as Accenture, Deliotte, EDS, KPMG, PwC, and others have the knowledge, the experience, and the foresight to be able to bridge the gap between corporate strategy and technology necessity. Many CRM implementations fail because corporations view the investment as a technology purchase and not a new way of doing business, one that raises customer satisfaction levels and increases efficiency across the entire organization.

So Klaber and his peers have a right to be calm, cool, and collected. They know their value.

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