• March 1, 2007
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Tenacious CRM

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This issue marks CRM magazine's 10th anniversary. A lot has changed since this magazine first published in March 1997. A look at our cover story for the issue, "A Costly Game of Truth or Dare," shows just how much the industry has matured. The story, related to Ginger Cooper by a former sales operations manager at a large publishing company, chronicled the events of an SFA implementation gone terribly wrong. The publishing company desired "report generation, what-if scenarios, daily updates, financial information, shared data with the home office [headquarters] the ability to slice and dice the database, and more." So it purchased an SFA application. The sales operations manager had worked with the SFA vendor to overcome "a string of disasters" and fully expected to start benefiting from the implementation. All that was left was to get associates to buy in. After successfully introducing the new SFA system at a national sales meeting, it appeared, finally, that everything was in place. Not so fast. Just two days after the national sales meeting the SFA vendor's project manager quit. The story's protagonist didn't know the SFA vendor was struggling financially and could no longer afford to pay the project manager's salary. What's particularly disheartening about this story is that the protagonist did so many things right--reading material on how to successfully implement SFA, hiring a well-known consultant for the implementation, and sending RFPs to 39 vendors before choosing the vendor. Similar disaster stories have appeared in CRM magazine's pages since then, mainly because these systems were too bulky and expensive. Too many things outside a company's control can negatively affect these large CRM initiatives--CRM vendors go under, vendors stop supporting older technology, and company executives and CRM project managers leave. Thankfully, CRM implementations are not as risky as they used to be. Over the past 10 years the industry has witnessed the development of more cost-effective and rewarding approaches to CRM initiatives. Developments such as the on-demand or SaaS delivery model, open standards, and best-of-breed solutions have significantly contributed to CRM project success rates. These developments have enabled companies to decrease the size and scope of their CRM projects by targeting their efforts on specific areas within the enterprise, making each implementation much more manageable. As a result, companies are seeing faster returns on their technology investments. In addition to providing more affordable, more manageable alternatives, today's CRM systems--thanks to the explosive growth of various customer channels like the Web and wireless technologies--provide more analytical capabilities, more accessibility, and more real-time information than systems did 10 years ago. So much so that it can be overwhelming, which is why this issue's special feature section, "Cardinal Rules: Ten for Ten," provides 10 sales, marketing, customer service, and enterprise strategy tips to help your company improve customer relationships and profitability today. David Myron Editorial Director dmyron@infotoday.com
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