Best of CRM: September 28th

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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.

CRM Watchlist 2014: The Preseason Truly Begins
By: Paul Greenberg (@pgreenbe)
Just months after the conclusion of CRM Watchlist 2013, Paul is announcing the preseason for CRM Watchlist 2014. As always, the watchlist is driven by the need to meet requirements of the ever-more demanding customer through better information and communication. And following Paul’s piece on the death of “social” CRM, he reiterates that social has become a core part of CRM rather than a separate category. In order to succeed in the CRM space (and the CRM Watchlist), Paul states that companies must provide the companies they are attempting to service with technologies that meet their needs, support a wide range of channels and interactive/personal messaging, provide systems of record and analytical tools that can provide insight into customer groups and/or individual customers, provide the systems that can take care of simple business needs simply, provide messaging to the market that aligns with the current transformation going on, put out some thought leadership and think in terms of ecosystems. With the industry continuing to change rapidly, the considerations for this award have also changed, including an eighth, previously unmentioned requirement that winning companies must meet: they must demonstrate an understanding of the current and future market, including a vision to support their customers in the future. All this is based on Paul’s most recent definition of CRM, which is “a business science with a defined philosophy and a set of strategies and programs, supported by systems and technologies, designed to improve human interactions in a business environment. Its purpose and its value are to make the customer’s experience with the company good enough to provide a mutually beneficial outcome over time, even as expectations change.”

Continuity Q&A: SMBs & Cloud Computing
By: Jonna Mayberry (@ContinuityMag)
This interview with Scribe’s own Betsy Bilhorn covers key considerations, benefits, challenges and best practices for SMBs considering the cloud. Most importantly, SMBs should keep in mind their limited resources before embarking on a cloud journey, meaning they must select cloud apps that fit their needs in the present and down the line – they likely lack enterprise-class resources to fine-tune systems to their exact specifications. The more limited availability of technical personnel at SMBs also means their selection for cloud apps need to be part of a robust ecosystem to enable easily connected systems across the organization. For those intent on integrating disparate cloud apps, Betsy recommends bringing in systems integrators and taking advantage of integration platforms to speed up the process and provide better results, while ultimately paying less. Although SMBs must be careful when selecting cloud apps, for a business that implements the right solution, “the cloud allows [them] to access more sophisticated technologies, which allows them to do things operationally that were typically the domain of much larger companies with bigger budgets.” In addition to these benefits, cloud solutions come with built in best practices for disaster recovery and high availability that SMBs would never be able to afford on their own.

Why CRM Fails
By: Nigel Turner (@NigelTurner8)
All of the benefits CRM brings are predicated on the premise of access to “comprehensive, accurate, and timely customer information in order to gain clear visibility into customer behavior and improve engagement, marketing, service, and loyalty.” The reality is that according to Ovum, poor quality data costs companies around 30 percent of the average company’s revenue in the U.S., largely due to the rapid increase in data volume and channel types. For the best information, companies need to create a data quality compliance process, which involves three main steps. First, companies must assess the quality of existing data and its degree of reliability and consistency for CRM processing. The second step involves converting data rules into processes that transform and correct the data into a common format. And lastly, the same process created for step two can also be embedded into a company’s CRM system and other relevant customer-centric systems to automate the validation and correction of data at the point of capture. By following these steps, Nigel believes companies can enjoy the full benefits of CRM and customer data.

Time to Bid Farewell to Custom Code and Manual Data Integration
By: Betsy Bilhorn
The need for data integration is greater than ever, and custom coding simply can’t scale to meet this need, which is likely a contributing factor to Scribe’s study findings that only 16 percent of businesses report full integration between customer facing systems. In fact, “48 percent of the respondents were using custom code and another 32 percent relied on manual data entry or other processes.” Thankfully, custom coding is on the decline, and more companies are turning to systems integrators and integration platforms. As Betsy writes, keeping up with the integration needs of today specifically requires not building integrations from scratch, but instead necessitates using and modifying pre-built connectors whenever possible. The latest Oracle-commissioned study discovered that 52 percent of businesses miss deadlines due to poor integration across cloud vendors – while severe, this number should decrease as businesses shift towards more scalable and efficient integration methods.

Customizing a CRM
By: Josh Brown (@theiconicmind)
This how-to piece by Josh covers three ways to customize CRM for enhanced results. Tailoring the CRM dashboard for customized forms and views allows companies to tweak CRM for their own industry’s specific data needs, including the ability to adjust fields in reporting. For smaller companies, removing unnecessary fields in reporting makes the process much more efficient, and for larger companies they can track all the necessary data. Beyond specifying CRM design, the ability to modify a wide range of user rules and access rights allows for both flexibility and security, so individuals using the system have access to the information they need without compromising security. The best CRM systems simplify this process and allow admins to change settings rapidly as projects and stakeholders evolve. Lastly, Josh relates that “perhaps the most applicable feature of the CRM is the ability to automate processes. Enforcing business rules through a strict set of predetermined filters enables the workforce to focus their productivity elsewhere.” These steps allow companies to go beyond the basics available when purchasing a CRM system by molding the software to specific needs, which pays off in the long run.


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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