Best of CRM: November 11th

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Every week, we recount some of the best buzz around CRM and data integration. We’ll review our favorite articles and share the most pressing findings or key takeaways from each.

Dreamforecast
By: Denis Pombriant (@DenisPombriant)
Denis writes his yearly predictions for Dreamforce, beginning this year’s piece by explaining what he doesn’t think will be the show’s theme: marketing solutions. As the major CRM players (Salesforce included) have incorporated marketing solutions in to their offerings, Dreamforce will focus on topics not already top-of-mind, which this year Denis believes will be platform. Essentially, Salesforce will place more of a focus on the importance of platform-level integration, which is important in today’s world of constructing end-to-end business process support across multiple apps. For Salesforce, their platform focus is gaining momentum through the active developer community on Force.com, providing the benefit to developers that apps built to the platform standards are natively integrated with Salesforce products. In describing Force.com’s evolution, Dennis writes: “once the home of a thousand widgets, Force.com is now the redoubt of many robust apps that can run with or without the core CRM. To continue propelling Salesforce’s growth I think a very easy approach runs through getting more partners and ISVs involved in selling the service that undergirds their solutions.”

The Case for Reorganizing IT for Hybrid Environments
By: Loraine Lawson (@LoraineLawson)
In this post inspired by Mark Walker’s CloudTimes piece, Loraine discusses her prediction that IT may be swinging back from centralized to decentralized control, where IT reports more often to LOB managers. The reason? Loraine wrote that “after reading (Mark’s piece), I’m starting to think that the integration challenges of cloud may be unique enough to swing the pendulum toward decentralized IT, at least for the foreseeable future.” This decentralized IT would still require a small core IT unit beholden to the CIO rather than business leaders, but the majority of IT responsibilities would be dispersed throughout the organization. Essentially, fighting for control of the cloud has already proven fruitless for IT, so decentralizing control may provide benefits such as freeing central IT and the CIO from the tactical day-to-day, while also making it easier for IT to push data quality and governance further into the business. With less time spent on tactics, IT would have more freedom to make strategic integration a reality, focusing on the big picture of a connected enterprise rather than getting stuck in the trenches of dealing with individual business needs.

Why CRM Financial Analysis Always Fails
By: David Taber (@DavidTaber)
David dives into the problems that arise when companies use standard financial analysis to measure the return of CRM systems, starting with the overarching fact that, “unlike any other enterprise software category, CRM systems’ costs and benefits vary widely by industry and don’t scale up or down in predictable ways. Further, as with news media, the information that’s easily accessible to you is very likely to be misleading.” What this comes down to is that CRM costs are typically higher than they appear, because added costs are often not accounted for in the initial assessment. Hidden costs include the cost of the data (leads and contact info) contained within the CRM system, the costs of data cleanup, integration, and reconciliation, time miscalculations and project run-ons when implementing the CRM system, and lastly, wasted user time while learning the system. While the cost of the leads within a system is not related to the technology itself, smart planning and an understanding of your end goals can significantly alleviate the costs of making the data usable with cleanup and integration (often a couple dollars/lead when done post-issue), while also improving the usability of the system and enabling more accurate time estimates for your project.

12 Recent Technologies That Have Yet to Live Up to Their Hype
By: Jennifer Schiff (@JenniferLSchiff)
This article covers various examples of “the next big thing” that thus far have underwhelmed. For marketing and sales folks, technologies that didn’t live up to the hype include big data, QR codes, gamification and real-time marketing. Big Data often distracts from the relevant data, where “the overabundance of data ultimately distracts — companies need comprehensive, actionable customer data, but attempting to gain insight on every detail overshadows the important information.” Beyond that, QR codes were never adopted by end-consumers, gamification often makes product usability slower with only a marginal value-add, and real-time marketing tends to come off as unnatural, especially for the majority of brands who haven’t yet spent the prerequisite months of building up an adequate following to consume real-time marketing campaigns. That’s not to say none of these technologies will take off, but as of today, they haven’t met expectations.

How to Choose the Best CRM Software
By: Sara Angeles (@sara_angeles)
In this guide to selecting the right CRM software for your business, the high-level advice boils down to figuring out your business’ unique needs to determine which vendor can meet them most efficiently. To do so, seven specific tips for success include selecting a mature provider, knowing your requirements beforehand, knowing where your data is located, selecting a scalable solution, planning for back-end integration, selecting with the mentality of finding a partner rather than a vendor, and staying away from free options. On the last point, while you don’t need to break the bank for a CRM system, “providers that meet (the above) standards aren’t cheap and won’t come free.” Beyond these tips, it’s important to note that business needs change, so while you should plan for the future, it’s unlikely that any single CRM solution will satisfy all of your company’s needs forever.


We hope you had a great week! We’ll see you again soon with a roundup of all the movers and shakers in CRM and data integration news.

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