Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Big Three: When It Comes to CRM, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Big Three: When It Comes to CRM, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Article excerpt

I'VE SPENT the past few weeks discussing the future of CRM with many people--from those on the front lines dealing with CRM issues every day to CEOs of large global organizations--and stopping to chat with vendors, consultants, and integrators in between. There was one underlying element in all these conversations that struck me as peculiar.


The conversations were about solving problems. In most of them, I found it refreshing that technology was not mentioned as a solution, but rather as part of the solution. It was the first time in many years, in some cases ever, that technology was not called upon to solve a problem. Instead, it was all about solving pain points and creating solutions for the organization.

The reason I bring this up is because all the conversations revolved around three areas. If this column were an interactive event, I'd ask you to guess what these were. I'm certain you'd guess things like what is a relationship, moments of truth, experiences, social (of course), collaboration, communities, and many other issues that are front-of-mind right now for CRM managers. And, to be fair, these topics were mentioned significantly enough.

But my discussions revealed that those weren't the big problems of CRM, and it is this discovery that led me to write this column.

For the most part, problems are simple, small, and solvable--at least in the world of enterprise software: You need to store data, you build a database; you need to interact with customers, you build a CRM system; you need to manage your vendors and partners, you deploy SCM or PRM tools--and so forth. These are not easy to deploy, but they (mostly) work as advertised and do what they say they will do: solve a specific problem. After you deploy them, you have a "solution" that works, sometimes better than others.

This is why you see so many new vendors enter any market in a given timeframe: They have found a new way to solve the problem that they (and their customers) think is better than previous solutions. They have found a way to solve the small problems.


Then, there are the Big Problems. These are not solved with one deployment or one implementation. Even if you do deploy CRM, you would still have to deal with these issues. There are no easy solutions to these problems, no single vendor that is able to solve them. They often require architects, database specialists, business users, IT, and partners to work together over a period of time to create a solution; then you still need to work even longer to implement the solution and make sure it does what you need it to do. Big Problems are not solved every year or even every refresh cycle or budget cycle--they are solved every so many years, and once that happens, they stay solved for a long time.

I found three Big Problems for CRM:


Now, before you tell me that this is a problem for everything the organization does, which is true, I want to focus on the CRM aspects specifically. Data is the reason we implemented CRM in the first place. Whether transactional, operational, demographic, attitudinal, behavioral, and now sentimental, the core of what CRM does is collect and store data from all interactions. We tried for a while to implement analytical CRM and analytic engines to find patterns, trends, and useful information; we never got too far with that.

So we continue to store the data.

The data we stored until now had been a problem, but an annoying one, not really a Big Problem. …

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