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Organisations wishing to take a more cautious approach may opt for MSP-based
CRM, with its increased potential for customisation and consultancy service in addition
to standard software-hosting duties. Larger consultancies such as Cap Gemini Ernst &
have begun offering MSP-based CRM solutions, thus significantly shifting the
focus away from the technological issues back towards the original business strategy.
Analysts repeatedly stress the importance of effective strategic planning above blind tech-
nological investment.
Future developments in eCRM
Vendors have a tendency to be tight-lipped when it comes to revealing the specific
technologies at work within their CRM solutions. Most packages boast the same features
and comparisons between them are usually based on performance measurements rather
than additional features. As a result, keeping technical information secret is vital if the
vendor is to remain in competition. An increasing number of vendors, including
and Firstwave, are utilising XML, often in conjunction with Java, so that cus-
tomers can tailor solutions to meet their individual needs. If an organisation chooses a
vendor that uses Java architecture, it can develop reusable JavaBeans to integrate an exist-
ing system. Mixing multiple vendors with a range of compatible technologies thus
becomes an increasingly attractive option.
`Plug-and-play' components enable organisations to prioritise the CRM services they
require, to introduce them gradually, and to vary the services across different sectors of
the organisation.Vendors who previously offered only complete bespoke packages have
come to realise that companies are less likely to pay out huge amounts of money with-
out first conducting a rigorous process of needs analysis, and developing a timeframe for
gradual integration.The focus, now more than ever, is between return on investment
(ROI) and measurable improvements in transaction speeds, accuracy and customer satis-
faction. In terms of getting the right information to the right people via the right medi-
um at the right time, Instant Messaging (IM) software is now beginning to come into
its own, with an organisation as large as the US Navy using an IM system to connect
over 300 ocean-going vessels. IM uses the concept of `presence' to determine which of a
user's available devices has been most recently used and sends urgent messages to the
device where the message is most likely to be seen.The compatibility of IM software
with a huge range of different devices, from desktop PC's to wireless PDA's and WAP
applications, means that no matter where in the world a contact or customer is, there
will usually be a way of getting that essential message through.
Global solutions companies such as SAP are now offering CRM modules as part of an
overall strategy.
This modular approach is felt by many to be the CRM wave of the
Customer Relationship
See IEEE Spectrum, November 2002 for much more on the potential benefits
of Instant Messaging.
In SAP's case, CRM is one of eleven mySAP solutions modules available.
Source: Denis Pombriant, Research Director in CRM, Aberdeen Group.