Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM: The Past and the Future; Born of Contact Management Applications 25 Years Ago, Enterprise Software Systems Have Come a Long Way

Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM: The Past and the Future; Born of Contact Management Applications 25 Years Ago, Enterprise Software Systems Have Come a Long Way

Article excerpt

THE CRM INDUSTRY is now 25 years old--it's time to celebrate. In this issue's column we'll look at the impressive accomplishments of CRM over the past 25 years; next month Reality Check will focus on the future of CRM.

When CRM began, in the early 1980s, the emphasis was on SFA. Companies like ACT! and Telemagic led the way with fairly rudimentary contact management business functionality. The next wave of vendors focused on customer service and support functionality, and companies like Scopus and Clarify began to offer incident assignment, escalation, tracking, and reporting for call centers. In the early to mid-'90s Aurum, Brock, and Siebel began to offer SFA plus customer service-and-support functionality in the same software package (along with limited reporting capabilities). These vendors became known as integrated (or suite) vendors, as opposed to point solution vendors.

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Soon thereafter marketing automation vendors began to appear. Point solutions vendors like Rubric and MarketFirst led the way with campaign management and other marketing functionality, aimed at more closely linking a company with its customers. Most of these integrated vendors also began to offer marketing automation capabilities; toward the end of the 1990s business analytics and e-customer business functionality began to show up in CRM software. Companies like Crystal Reports and Cognos covered the analytics side, while BroadVision and Silknet covered the e-customer side. And once again, most integrated vendors expanded accordingly, now offering the full suite of sales, customer service, marketing, business analytics, and e-customer functionality.

The past few years have seen continued improvement in CRM's functional richness (e.g., better customer self-service, improved content management); a resurgence of hosted solutions from such companies as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and Siebel Systems; and new business functionality, which is a result of effective leveraging of wireless and Internet capabilities that have allowed CRM to move into real time).

Regrettably, these past 25 years have overemphasized the tech side of CRM at the expense of process-and-people issues, which are intimately responsible for successful CRM implementations. …

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