CRM: The Challenges We've Had; Our Issues Today - Part 1 Of 3

Kate Leggett

MyCustomer.com recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM: Why initial CRM projects failed, what has now changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the first part of my point of view, as well as a link to a series of three published articles from MyCustomer.com.

 

Question: Nearly a decade ago, estimates suggested that a very large proportion of CRM projects were failing. What were the main problems undermining CRM projects in those days?

Answer: The main problems undermining CRM projects a decade ago were mismatched expectations with reality in three categories: technology, process and people.

The first CRM systems were not fully baked and had large feature holes that were not always communicated to the purchaser. The technology was not intuitive or easy to use. It was hard to implement with long time-to-value and hard to become proficient in its use. It was even harder to change the business processes that had been implemented — changes that were necessary to stay in line with evolving business needs.

CRM systems were also difficult to integrate with a company’s IT ecosystem, which meant that many actions needed to be repeated in multiple systems. (For example, consider a CRM system that was not integrated into a company’s email system. This means that a sales person would have to cut and paste a customer communication from their email correspondence into the CRM system, which was labor intensive and often not done. )

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Business 2011 Gets Faster; Business Rules And SOA Policy Get More Important

Randy Heffner

Can you remember a year when your business both (1) grew in a healthy way and (2) changed more slowly than the year before? Besides a company’s early startup years, such would be the exception, not the rule. So, in 2011, your business is likely to continue accelerating its pace of change. A recent Forrester report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013, named both business rules and SOA policy as items for your watch list — because both of them help accelerate business change.

Back in the mainframe days — and even into minicomputer, client/server, and Web applications — nearly all of the business logic for every application was tightly wrapped up in the application code. A few forward-thinking programmers might have built separate parameter files with a small bit of business-oriented application configuration, but that was about it. But, business changes too quickly to have all of the rules locked up in the code.

Some have tried the route that businesspeople ought to do their own programming — and many vendor tools through the years have tried creatively (though unsuccessfully) to make development simple enough for that. But, business is too complex for businesspeople to do all of their own programming.

Enter business rules, SOA policy, and other ways to pull certain bits of business logic out of being buried in the code. What makes these types of approaches valuable is that they are targeted, contained, and can have appropriate life cycles built around them to allow businesspeople to change what they are qualified to change, authorized to change, and have been approved to change.

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How To Measure Global Success And Regional Relevance?

Jost Hoppermann

Similar to the past few years at this time of year, we are in the process of preparing a global banking platform deals report for 2010. As we have done since 2005 to help application delivery teams make informed decisions, we will analyze deals’ structure, determine countable new named deals, and look at extended business as well as key functional areas and hosted deals — all to identify the level of global and regional success as well as functional hot spots for a large number of banking platform vendors.

In the past, some vendors told us that they are not particularly fond of us counting new named deals while only mentioning extended business, renewed licenses, and the like. Why do we do this, and what is the background for this approach? First, extended business as often represents good existing relationships between vendors and banks as it represents product capabilities themselves. Second, we have asked for average deals sizes and license fees for years, but only a minority of vendors typically discloses this information. Thus, we do not have a broad basis for dollar or euro market shares — and I personally shy away from playing the banking platform revenue estimates game.

An Alternative Counting Model Could Be Implemented Easily . . .

Consequently, available data makes counting new named deals the only feasible way to represent an extending or shrinking footprint in the off-the-shelf banking platform market — and thus to also represent customer decisions in favor of one banking platform or the other. Some vendors suggested introducing weights for the size of the bank and the relevance of the seven world regions (for example, North America and Asia Pacific). We could easily do so, but there are problems with this approach:

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Build Innovation Zones Into Your Architecture

Randy Heffner

Forrester’s recent book, Empowered, describes the type of technology-based innovation by frontline employees that can cause nightmares for enterprise architects. New tools for business innovation are readily available to anyone, ranging from cloud computing and mobile apps to social networks, scripting languages, and mashups. Faced with long IT backlogs and high IT costs, frontline employees are building their own solutions to push business forward.

What worries architects is that (1) solutions built with these new tools — with little or no vetting — are being hooked to enterprise systems and data, opening potentially big risks to reliability and security, and (2) the siloed, quick-hit nature of these solutions will drive up ongoing costs of maintenance and support. Traditionally, architects use enterprise standards as their primary tool to ensure the quality, efficiency, and security of their organization’s technology base. However, when applied in the typical “lockdown” fashion, standards can stifle innovation — often because vetting a new technology takes longer than the perceived window of business opportunity.

To deal with these conflicting pressures, architects must forge a new equation between responsiveness and technology control. The business value of responsiveness, combined with the typically limited size of enterprise architecture teams, means that most organizations cannot wait for architects to vet every possible new technology. Thus, you must find ways to use architecture to navigate the tension between the business value of responsiveness and the business value of a high-quality technology base. The key is to build innovation zones into your architecture; Forrester defines these as:

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Java Is A Dead-End For Enterprise App Development

Mike Gualtieri

Before Java was invented, one of the key industry trends was to increase the productivity of both developers and end users. For example, fourth-generation programming languages (4GL) such as Powerbuilder, Progress, and Uniface provided professional developers with faster ways to develop business applications than using COBOL, Pascal, C, or C++. For end users, tools such as Dbase, Lotus Notes, and Visicalc provided them with the unprecedented ability to create mini-apps without the need for professional developers. In the early '90s, this productivity trend was thrown into a tizzy by the Internet. Now, software vendors and enterprise application developers had to rush to write a whole new generation of applications for the Web or risk becoming irrelevant. The Internet forced developer productivity and 4GL’s to take the back seat.

Java Was At The Right Place At The Right Time For Web Applications

Java was designed in 1990 as an easier and more portable option than C++ to develop embedded systems.  The invention of the WWW in 1993 started a meteoric change in IT application development. Sun Microsystems moved quickly to take advantage by selling “network” servers like hotcakes and offering Java as the platform for Web development. Most other software vendors were caught off guard and Java became the de facto Internet development standard for enterprise Web application development.

Fast-Forward 20 Years

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A Good Customer Service Experience Is Easier Said Than Done

Kate Leggett

Customers today are empowered. They want to decide how they interact with companies that they do business with. That means that not only does a company need to provide the goods and services but also the tools and culture to make customer service a value-add to their customer base.  

Here are some basic but key steps to take to move in that direction.

Know Your Customer

When a customer contacts a company, agents should have full access to the customer’s information. They should be able to view past and pending requests made across all available communication channels that you support (like the phone, email, chat, SMS) as well as interactions over social channels like Twitter and Facebook.

If a request has been escalated from a Web self-service session, agents should have access to the full session history so as not to repeat questions or searches that the customers has already performed.

Couple Your CRM System With Others

CRM systems should be more than just the front end of a database of customer information and cases — they should also be integrated with back-office applications. Real-time data integration means that the system can make calls to third-party systems to retrieve a real-time answer to a question such as “When did my order ship?”

Some companies deeply couple knowledge management with CRM. While agents are gathering the details of the customer’s issue, under-the-covers searches are being executed so that an updated list of relevant solutions can be presented to the agent, which helps minimize handle time.

Make Search Smart

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Strong Growth And Innovation Seen For Information-As-A-Service In 2011

Noel Yuhanna

Over the course of this year, I’ve spoken with many organizations that are continuing to expand their usage of information-as-a-service (sometimes called data services) to support new business requirements such as self-service customer portals, real-time BI, and single-version-of-the-truth. With the growing complexity of data, increasing volume of data, and exploding security challenges all driving demand, IaaS is poised to grow significantly in the coming years, especially as existing integration technologies are failing to meet these new requirements. What we see is that most organizations that have embraced an IaaS strategy over the years aren’t looking back; they’re continuing to expand its usage to support more requirements such as real-time data, creating data domains, improving the ability to securely deliver information, integration with unstructured data and external sources, various Web portals, and enterprise search.

Recently, my colleague Gene Leganza, who serves Enterprise Architecture Professionals, compiled the top 15 technology trends EA should watch over the next three years . One of the trends Gene highlighted is that information-as-a-service (IaaS) is finding a broader audience. I see more organizations continuing to show strong interest in IaaS, as evidenced by increasing inquiries, to help with growing data integration challenges that traditional solutions are not addressing. IaaS can significantly alter IT’s approach to its data management strategy and delivers a flexible framework to support transactional, BI, and real-time data.

Here are my top predictions for 2011 related to IaaS:

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Proposed Themes For BI Trends 2011 Research Document

Boris Evelson

Forrester's recent report on Top 15 Technologies To Watch In 2011 once again proved that BI is front and center on everyone's agendas. We indeed continue to see unrelenting interest and ever-increasing adoption levels of BI platforms, applications, and processes. But while BI maturity in enterprises continues to grow, and BI tools become more function rich and robust, the promise of efficient and effective BI solutions remains quite challenging at best, and elusive at worst. Why? Two main reasons. BI is all about best practices and lessons learned, which only come with years of experience. Additionally, traditional BI technologies (ETL, data warehousing, reporting, OLAP) have not kept pace with the ever-changing business and regulatory requirements. In a work-in-progress research document, building on a last year's relevant blog post on next-gen BI, we plan to review top best practices and next- generation BI technologies for our clients to watch and adopt in 2011 to improve their chances to deliver successful BI initiatives. Here's the proposed document outline and major themes:

BEST PRACTICES TO ADOPT IN 2011

  • Emphasis on business ownership and data governance 
  • Combining top-down performance management, with bottom-up approaches 
  • Emphasis on change management
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Clear Messaging And Execution Strategy With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Kate Leggett

Microsoft was kind enough to invite me to Microsoft's Dynamics Fall Analyst Event — a two-day event packed with product, strategy, customer, and partner information. The focus was clearly on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. This product and the go-to-market strategy are clear and focused. Here are my thoughts:

  • The Dynamics CRM 2011 product is good. Today, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is used by 23,000 customers, 1.4 million end users in 80 countries and 40+ languages. That in itself is impressive. However, Microsoft wants to do better. It has focused on the user experience and UI in the 2011 product in hopes of driving increased adoption. Dynamics CRM 2011 is deeply integrated with Outlook, Office Communicator, SharePoint, Office 365, and Bing. It can be easily personalized. A business user, without the help of IT, can set up a dashboard. It has rich reporting analytics. It works on mobile devices, including the iPhone. Microsoft realizes that this product still has limitations, especially around Web self-service customer service capabilities. Its near-term plans are to address this, as well as adding capabilities around support for the phone channel and for social customer service. However, right now, these holes offer a chance for specialty customer service vendors to make inroads.
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One Code To Rule Them All: Reflections On Oracle Fusion Applications From Oracle OpenWorld 2010

Holger Kisker

With about 41,000 attendees, 1,800 sessions, and a whooping 63,000-plus slides, Oracle OpenWorld 2010 (September 19-23) in San Francisco was certainly a mega event with more information than one could possibly digest or even collect in a week. While the main takeaway for every attendee depends, of course, on the individual’s area of interest, there was a strong focus this year on hardware due to the Sun Microsystems acquisition. I’m a strong believer in the integration story of “Hardware and Software. Engineered to Work Together.” and really liked the Iron Man 2 show-off all around the event; but, because I’m an application guy, the biggest part of the story, including the launch of Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, was a bit lost on me. And the fact that Larry Ellison basically repeated the same story in his two keynotes didn’t really resonate with me — until he came to what I was most interested in: Oracle Fusion Applications!

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