As an IT manager, one of the challenges you face is keeping up with changing trends. Customer relationship management (CRM) is one trend that is likely to have a profound impact on business and IT practices.

CRM is a dynamic, but immature market. New vendors and solutions crop up daily. Even established CRM vendors are rapidly forming partnerships and alliances with smaller vendors to create more integrated products.

But how do you chart a course through this sea of solutions? These reports from Gartner, which focus on the emerging CRM market, can help you navigate. (TechRepublic is a subsidiary of Gartner.)

What to look for
CRM’s bottom line is raising revenue by creating loyal customers, so it is imperative to find a solution that fits your organization and your vertical industry. You also need a vendor that offers pre-implementation consulting, training programs, and operational support. “There are a lot of grass roots efforts in CRM,” said Gartner analyst, Donna Fluss.

Integration of products is also a key focus area for CRM. In order to adapt to customer requests and evolving contact points, existing solutions have to “talk” with new ones. According to a Gartner study of 600 enterprises, “more than 40 percent of medium-sized enterprises (MSEs) plan to purchase an integrated CRM suite. For further savings from customization of CRM applications, MSEs should look to vendors that offer pre-configured, industry-specific solutions.”

Download these reports
The products and technologies highlighted in recent Gartner research represent integration capabilities for different vertical industries and CRM-related products. The reports outline CRM solutions from vendors like Siebel, Pegasystems, Oracle, Pivotal, Onyx, and other leading providers.

Download these reports from Gartner for a look at the issues surrounding implementation of CRM solutions:

  • Customer Relationship Management:Perspective offers an overview of the issues that face IT managers, CIOs, and CTOs. Gartner provides the history, current status, and a prediction of the future of CRM in this report.
  • Pegasystems Inc. eCRM solutions offers an electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) solution that eases a financial firm’s transition from bricks to clicks. The suite includes a number of application templates designed specifically for banks, investment firms, and insurance companies.
  • E-mail Response Management: Perspective serves as a guide to the risks and benefits of implementing such a system. This research also explains why e-mail response management is becoming an essential component of a company’s CRM efforts.
  • Chat Software: Perspective explains how Web chat technology has multiple business uses and why it is an effective way to interact with customers who use the Web. Use this report to determine if Web chat is right for your organization and why businesses have been slow to adopt the technology.
  • Siebel Systems, Inc. Siebel Dynamic Commerce outlines the vendor’s powerful online auction solution, which can be used in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships. Gartner also explains how recent additions to the solution may give Siebel an edge in the online auction solutions.

For a detailed analysis of the latest in IT, subscribe to our Gartner Product Analysis TechMail .Gartner’s performance benchmarks, feature comparisons, profiles, and advice will help you evaluate vendor offerings before you commit to a new technology.