Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM Gets Real: No Longer Pie in the Sky, CRM Is Settling into Down-to-Earth Successes

Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM Gets Real: No Longer Pie in the Sky, CRM Is Settling into Down-to-Earth Successes

Article excerpt

CRM solution providers and the business community at large have spent more than half a decade wincing at publicized stories of missteps, flubs, and collapses attributed to bad CRM software, strategy, or both. Meanwhile, the world has gone on, and much of the skepticism has fallen by the wayside as more and more companies successfully integrate CRM programs and practices into their standard operating procedures.

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In fact, two in three CIOs consider CRM efforts in 2004 a high priority, according to a survey of nearly 1,000 CIOs conducted by Gartner Executive Programs (EXP). Similarly, the December 2003 Morgan Stanley CIO Survey indicates that enterprises rank CRM in the top third of all IT spending priorities.

CRM vendors certainly have not lost confidence in their products either. IDC research indicates that such CRM outfits as Siebel and Oracle will lead the pack of vendors increasing their marketing budgets and efforts for the year.

Chris Selland, managing director of Reservoir Partners, says that CRM adopters are increasingly more dedicated to ensuring that their projects are a success, because they are making investments to execute on sales, service, and marketing strategies, rather than simply trying to make headlines. "[Vendors] were telling managers that if you buy this [product], your stock price is going to go up," he says.

Now that the new-car smell is gone, everyone is more focused on realistic solutions to problems of high-velocity, multichannel customer interactions. "We've been in this business for ten years; there's a maturity," says Jeff Pulver, Siebel vice president of worldwide marketing.

Skepticism over the true impact of CRM is also starting to dissipate. "The Financial Impact of CRM," a study conducted by IDC of more than 30 companies, found that productivity gains account for a clear majority of CRM return on investment. That companies are tracking the source and destination of their CRM benefits at all is a major improvement over years past, and a major component of the increasing levels of success.

According to Beth Eisenfeld, Gartner research vice president, about three in four companies now measure the TCO of their CRM endeavors after implementation, while three in five carefully measure benefits. Fewer are tracking ROI throughout the life cycle of their projects, but she credits awareness of costs and benefits to greater focus on results and, therefore, greater success. …

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