Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Power of the Platform Is in the Integration: Software Puts a Wide-Angle Lens on the Business Process

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Power of the Platform Is in the Integration: Software Puts a Wide-Angle Lens on the Business Process

Article excerpt

THE SOFTWARE platform provides a vantage point different from anything else in the front office. Because platforms integrate a multitude of technologies, they almost force us to look at how the integration, and not just individual components, affects business. A new sales tool might speed up some aspect of selling, shaving seconds that can add up to significant gains over time. Marketing tools can give us more and better qualified leads, and service tools are famous for quick and effective problem resolution. That's important, but it's also the stovepipe version of CRM that we've been using for many years.

Platforms have the potential to do much more because of what they integrate. But before we can make maximum use of platforms, we need to ask what their greatest potential is, and the answer may be surprising. When everything is integrated, you have a decidedly different way to approach business.

More than assembling the traditional departmental stovepipes, platforms also bring together new functionality, such as journey mapping, along with workflow, code generation, data, and analytics. To an unprecedented degree, this provides vendors with the ability to see the future and proactively determine their best courses.

Interestingly, this view of the future sets platform-based CRM apart from anything that came before it, because the platform evolves CRM into a science. That's a big claim, but I can back it up. A science is a paradigm or framework that layers knowledge in ways that produce more knowledge, as well as providing accurate predictions about the future. For example, knowing a few facts about how atoms and molecules interact, a chemist can confidently describe a chemical reaction and assemble the needed reagents and apparatus to make it work--even if the chemist has never executed that reaction before.

The front office is coming to resemble the lab. The customer data that we collect leads us to understand probabilities of customer and market behavior in the context of our businesses. Each business context might be a little different, but this does not invalidate the claim of a science.

This "customer science," as I call it, resembles sociology. A sociologist studies the relationships between individuals and social groups. …

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