Long’s post about talking to customers sparked my interest due to my current thesis work surrounding CRM packages. It raises a very interesting question, and that is do these companies genuinely not care or are they not capable of caring?
A company can only ‘appear’ to be capable of caring if it has invested in systems that ensure each customer interaction is responded to in the best possible way (for both the customer and the company). This requires a lot of business strategy planning and scripting, often using inputs such as customer surveys, psychologists, marketing managers and front line staff. Getting to know your customer clearly takes a lot of time and effort.
All this planning work is in vain however without a successful implementation. Big companies for many years have invested heavily (millions of $) in packages from SAP and Oracle.
It is only now that small and medium enterprises (SME’s) are investing in this area. This shift has mainly occurred due to 2 things, an increase in customer service quality expectations and a decrease in the implementation cost of CRM software.
To give you an idea of what CRM software is capable of I would suggest watching this demo video. It is tucked away on the Microsoft Dynamics website, but it gives an excellent overview of how a CRM system works.
Microsoft and a number of other providers are making a large scale push into the smaller end of the market. By smaller I definitely mean employee numbers, not value. In Australia the SME market actually represents 92% of businesses and 80% of total business value. As far as developing areas of IT go this is a huge one, and it brings with it a whole load of business analyst, software customisation/integration and many other job opportunities
The exciting part for me however is not that I will have a career path, but that IT is being recognised as a business driver and competitive advantage rather than a necessarily evil to support a business. The TLA‘s of CRM, SFA, ERP and logistics areas are leading the way in this area. One day will the CIO always
have a seat at the board table? Will IT staff be recognised and valued as revenue generators and as holders of crucial business knowledge? Sooner or later, time will tell.