Extraprise CRM: Extending Systems Outside the Four Walls
EXTRAPRISE CRM CHALLENGES
With extraprise CRM, data is obviously the centerpiece, and companies that are going to adopt the technology will clearly need to be able to collect and properly analyze growing amounts of data. While large conglomerates like GE, Boeing, and Delta have the internal resources to do that, smaller companies often lack the same levels of budgets and staffing.
That doesn’t have to exclude them entirely from implementing the technology, though, according to Dickie and others. A new breed of service company is emerging that will offer the data for purchase, removing the burden of having to build and maintain the massive data collection infrastructure needed for such an undertaking.
“There is a trend toward data as a service, much like software as a service,” Dickie says.
One firm that already does this is Harvesting, which uses remote sensors to collect a wealth of agricultural-related data, such as temperature, rainfall, and market demand, to compile statistics that it then sells to financial institutions to help them determine whether a farmer is a good credit risk.
But the technology itself won’t help companies if they don’t do a couple of things first, according to Dickie.
For starters, companies will need to decide what they want to do with the data, including which issues they are trying to solve. The data can certainly lead to some new and unexpected opportunities, but businesses should still have some goals in mind before undertaking an extraprise CRM project. Without a plan, companies could be collecting data just for the sake of collecting data.
Then, the integrity of the data is essential. If operating with questionable data, the results will be questionable as well.
With good, high-quality data guiding their decisions, businesses can look forward to a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in revenue as well as reduced operating costs, according to a number of industry studies. Companies, therefore, need to ensure that they are not only collecting clean data today; they also need to scrub old data to remove any inconsistencies.
Security is another concern. As companies share data, they need to ensure that the right access controls are in place so that systems and data not meant to be shared aren’t compromised.
Anthony Reynolds, CEO of Altify, recommends putting shareable data into defined cloud locations, and keeping those locations free of any additional data.
Another issue is connectivity and integration of different data types up and down the supply chain, says Frank Holland, CEO of Apttus. “It does provide a lot of upside. It is something that we think about a lot. One area where we see value is in being more efficient with catalog updates. Companies are changing prices all the time.”
If price changes are reflected more efficiently, those up the supply chain can better reflect current pricing of components in their own pricing, he maintains.
Even with these challenges, the trend toward the use of an increasing amount of data to improve machine performance and end-product output, as well as to provide predictive maintenance for machines, is clear.
STATE OF THE CONCEPT
Despite the novelty of the concept, a few companies are already using extraprise CRM—even if they don’t use that term.
SAP, for example, offers its Intelligent Asset Management solution as a solution for companies seeking to maximize their use of available data, says Volker Hildebrand, global vice president of SAP customer experience.
SAP’s technology enables businesses to collect and track equipment information in a central cloud-based data repository. Operators access up-to-date maintenance strategies and manuals from manufacturers, and manufacturers automatically receive asset usage and failure data.
Among companies using the SAP solution is Kaeser Compressors, a manufacturer of compressed air and vacuum products. The SAP technology helps Kaeser manage and integrate IoT data with customer data, increasing productivity and improving operational agility and ticket handling. According to Hildebrand, the company is achieving much higher customer satisfaction through improved product support and design.
If a customer needs a repair, the IoT data indicates what the problem is likely to be, Hildebrand says. If the problem is relatively simple to fix, the company can send a junior technician, saving its more senior engineers for more complicated problems.
Because the concept is so new, most companies are much earlier in the process of collecting, analyzing, and using the wealth of IoT data inside and outside their four walls. But even so, the growth in IoT and other data, the continuing advancement of AI, and the ability to obtain elements of extraprise CRM as a service rather than investing in the entire infrastructure are all inevitable developments, Dickie says.
Dickie also points out that many other technologies and strategies started out as concepts used by only a few at the beginning but quickly became business imperatives. “Those that didn’t grab onto ideas like e-commerce or technologies like the PC early enough found out relatively quickly that they had fallen behind their competitors,” he says.
It’s still too early to tell whether extraprise CRM is headed down that road, but all signs indicate that it is certainly on its way.
Phillip Britt is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.