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IT Leaders have been burnt badly over CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
There are many failed CRM initiatives to dine out on. But CRM is set to face a resurgence as technology and business has matured towards being really ready for it. And this I think is they key reason why. CRM in the late 90s and early 00s was a solution looking for a problem, to be blunt. CRM vendors were way ahead of their customers, which meant that the business benefits were always woolly, and ownership was unclear.
But the benefits are now clearer. Business has moved on from being product-centric to customer-centric. The value of lifetime customers has become understood, as well as an appreciation that customers are fickle and fussy. No longer will CRM be a means to push product, but it has become a means to pull customers. It’s not quite the capstone of a Noordstrom model of ‘come to us for whatever you want and we will help you get it’, but it CRM will enable business to put process and knowledge around the management process of customer relationships through the integration of BPM principles (Business Process Management.) That is, BPM and CRM together will shape the supply-chain.
OK, I’ve just described the ideal that CRM vendors were pitching first time around. But this time, the maturity of BPM brings much in terms of concept and approach to what is just a process underneath – CRM. The CRM capability of organizations who have embraced BPM has grown because they now understand how to model and articulate a business process. I’m not even saying that you need a BPMS to implement CRM. In fact Siebel (now Oracle) had workflow and BPM built in from the early days, but implementation’s were flawed because the organization didn’t understand how to properly implement efficient and effective processes.
So CRM won’t be the dirty word is has become, because it doesn’t stand out by itself so much. It’s just a business process!
The CRM marketplace has consolidated and is hotting up. A recent CIO.COM article shows the current top ten in the market. These vendors have been through their pain and must now sweat their investment. I foresee major investment in CRM marketing ahead, so don’t be surprised to get calls from vendors wanting to talk to you about it.
The question is if you have CRM on your agenda now? If you’re still worried about the acronym sending waves of dread throughout your organization, then maybe you should consider talking about BPM instead.
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