MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE : Customer Focus in Software Solutions; Today,COs Management Software Is about Finding Solutions That Work across a Business, Say Two Experts from the Information Technology Industry

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New trends in management software we are arising out ofAaan ever-tightening market, says Simon Bright, chief operating officer at Intergen, which provides information technology solutions to industry.

Bright, who also heads up the companyCOs Microsoft Dynamics practice, says across the information technology industry, heCOs seeing a consolidation of applications as companies move from a number of disparate applications to a single application,Aaor to a set of applications that are tightly integrated.

C[pounds sterling]We are seeing increased competition in all sectors, so itCOs important for organisations to be close to their customers. TheyAaneed a good handle on who their customers are.C[yen]

That means sourcing information from many different parts of the business, he says. C[pounds sterling]ItCOs really important that you bring all of that information together. You need to form a picture of how you deal with and retain these customers. As the economic situation tightens every year that goes by, businesses are looking for solutions that help them retain these customers and work more efficiently with them.C[yen]

Having a greater customer focus means you have to put more time into each customer, says Bright.

Another trend he is seeing is business process automation. C[pounds sterling]ItCOs about taking the multi-touch aspect away from the way you deal with interactions through the business,C[yen] he says.

C[pounds sterling]There is a lot of focus on automating processes using workflow technologies which allow you to bring together business processes that fit in different systems across your organisation and help you better interact from a technology-to-staff perspective.C[yen]

Other trends are around knowledge-based organisations, particularly in the professional services sector.

Knowledge bases are about building knowledge and IP within a business, says Bright. C[pounds sterling]WeCOre seeing differences in how you mine that information, using the concept of CysearchCO.C[yen]

We all use search functions in our day-to-day work, Google, for example, he says. Now you can use searches in your enterprise Co rather than collating data into one place, consolidating the process.

C[pounds sterling]Take the legal profession, for example, where youCOve got different departments, one with contract information, one with customer information, one which interactes with the customer. When youCOre about to visit that customer, you can use a search and see everything about them, and have the results on a single page. It is about presenting information back in a usable form

C[pounds sterling]Or you can search for the last four interactions and it will provide all of that information for you.C[yen]

The other area Intergen works in is retail, where there have been dramatic changes in the way businesses work. Says Bright: C[pounds sterling]If you think about where retailing has come in just five years, it used to be bricks and mortar, now businesses need to compete in a different way. The traditional bricks and mortar retailer is competing with online businesses, websites, catalogues and even purchases accessed through mobile devices.C[yen]

He says traditional retailing is moving to multichannel retailing, so retailers can compete with telesales and the online experience, driving a consistent customer experience.

C[pounds sterling]If I go online and purchase a product from an online retailer and I am not happy with it and want to take it back, I want to take it back to a store Co and I want them to know that itCOs a valid purchase that ICOm returning.

C[pounds sterling]ItCOs about connecting channels and making the experience seamless. ItCOs an evolution. Some retailers have gone into an online presence, and now itCOs about how to extend these online channels.C[yen]

For example,Aasocial media messages can send people on to online media or telesales. …