Customer relationship management (CRM) is viewed by many in the IT community as unpredictable and untested. While CRM is designed to provide answers to what customers want and need, enterprises that implement CRM solutions are often left with more questions than answers. Is it a technology? Is it a business tool? Which part of an organization does it benefit from most?
Business technology advisor Gartner is holding a three-day conference to offer answers to the CRM conundrum. CRM Summit 2000 is titled “The Source for Profitable e-Relationships in a Connected World” and will explore what CRM is capable of in an e-business environment. Newcomers and CRM veterans alike will find information about CRM that they can incorporate into their business plans.
TechRepublic spoke with Michael Maoz, Gartner research director and acting chair of CRM Summit 2000, about the summit. Maoz provided some valuable information about CRM and what its future holds.
If you go
CRM Summit 2000 will be held in Chicago on September 13–15. Visit Gartner’s CRM Resource Center to find out how to sign up.
TechRepublic:What can someone looking for a CRM solution expect to find at CRM Summit 2000?
Maoz: What people can expect to find is a really great combination of three things:
First is our presentation on the evolution of CRM. That’s important. As we speak, CRM is morphing from customer-assisted software applications and strategies to channels of unassisted service. What we’re seeing now is that there are many clients coming over channels that the organization is not in control of. The organization still has to provide the same behaviors for service, selling, and support, but the control [of these behaviors] has shifted from organizations to [customers].
Second are the education sessions by the corporate sponsors. People looking at solutions can actually go listen and watch. Most of the major CRM vendors will be there to provide the sessions.
The third is the one-on-one sessions where people can sit with Gartner analysts and pose questions in a fairly intimate environment.
TechRepublic: What can someone with a solution already in place expect to learn about CRM?
Maoz: If there is already a CRM solution in place, they are in the rare 1 percent of organizations who have succeeded in CRM so far.
TechRepublic: Why only 1 percent?
Maoz: People often have a portion of CRM that optimizes a channel or a function, not a whole solution.
But when we’re talking about CRM it’s almost a never-ending story. You are always looking to create integrated touch points. What you’ll find is that some companies that have already nailed CRM, say for sales marketing and services, will find where that next step is. The next step could be either integrating multiple departments to create a corporate view or a corporate memory of the customer.
TechRepublic: How will the summit address CRM in an e-business environment?
Maoz: If you look at what’s happening to e-marketplaces, the majority of them will cease to exist in four or five years. What will describe the leaders are those organizations within e-marketplaces that can deliver the same types of CRM that they had in their other channels.
Workflow will be extended to the e-marketplace, but this causes something unique to happen. Organizations are being exposed. Every time you remove a link in the chain, the branding decreases and the number of contacts and the strength of the brand are reduced. There is a “multiplier effect.” On the Internet, one person in the chain has contact with all members of the chain.
TechRepublic: How are the roles of IT departments that are in step with CRM changing?
Maoz: CRM project managers are in a new position where they have to evolve with the new customer architecture. To stay in control, they are going to need to be visionary.
The challenge here for IT people is to really evolve as business managers within IT. That is how they are going to maintain project control. The roles are changing tremendously. They need to be business experts in order to prioritize and focus projects.
Right now, IT has almost been treated like outsourced labor. What we see now is that this is not the case. They are being brought into the process of the selection [of a CRM solution].
TechRepublic: Return on investment (ROI) is a large issue facing CRM. How is the ROI on CRM being determined?
Maoz: ROI is slippery. Oftentimes industrial measurements of ROI are being used. This needs to be replaced by a customer-focused ROI. That often means looking at the overall effect of the project, not the immediate effect of the project. Has the project actually done something to improve overall metrics, not a specific financial metric?
Today, enterprises are unevenly handicapping old-line channels to prove the accuracy of the Web. What I mean by that is fixed overhead costs, capital costs, depreciation costs, and integration are a burden on old channels. They leave the impression that the Web is much more successful than might be the case.
An important step for a more balanced view of what role the Web is playing is to have a more evenly balanced distribution of fixed overhead costs, for example, across every channel, including the Web.
More on the summit
CRM Summit 2000 will offer drill down sessions on major issues. The summit will also look at how CRM solutions add profitability to an organization. Significant trends occurring with CRM will also be addressed. For example, the summit will focus on how customers are learning to be more empowered and aware in their purchasing behaviors.
In addition, attendees to the summit will learn about these important e-business/CRM topics:
- How to assess the business drivers of CRM strategies.
- How to evaluate the total cost and ROI or CRM.
- How to select, acquire, deploy, and manage technology-enabled customer service solutions.
- How to evaluate the requirements for a CRM architecture.
- How to assess alternatives for developing and integrating CRM applications and technologies.
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