Know the Physics, Chemistry and Math of Your Future CRM System


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Do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and John Von Neumann have anything to do with CRM systems? It turns out that the most effective way to evaluate a prospective system vendor is through the lenses of physics, chemistry and mathematics.

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, the purpose of a business is to create a customer profitably. Simplistic as it may sound, it translates into generating insights to create winning products; acquiring customers in the face of competition; retaining existing customers with higher expectations and providing superior service.

For your CRM system to help you do that, however, you must align your proposed system with your organization’s business strategy and gain acceptance by user base. And that means evaluating your prospective technology vendor through the lenses of physics, chemistry and math. Here’s why:

  • Physics represents the ability of the system to meet requirements of the business
  • Chemistry concerns soft issues comprising user preferences, organizational dynamics
  • Math refers to Total Cost of Ownership

In most organizations, decisions on which CRM system you purchase are based on the organizational IT strategy, dictated by individual preferences or simply following “best in class” approaches. Few firms pay adequate attention to the physics, chemistry and math of their CRM systems. And that’s too bad. Consider what evaluating the system by physics, chemistry and math did for a leading publishing firm.

The company has well-known publications and a robust online business. It had achieved significant growth over the past few years, helped in generous measure by acquisitions. The future looked bright, but at the same time, executives felt that the company was not prepared. The reasons were not difficult to fathom. Each of the publications had its own sales force, and there was minimal cross- or up-selling. Management intended to increase the subscriber base of its publications but faced challenges in execution. Forecasts for strategic planning were mere euphemisms for “guess work.” For the business-heads, there was no way of managing their sales and marketing teams—and their respective efforts effectively.

No unity

There was a common thread at the core of those challenges: the absence of an enterprise system that could unite all the business groups and guide the firm toward its intended high-growth trajectory.

Not having an enterprise system meant the company could not be responsive to its partners, management could not forecast, marketing could not make relevant offers to the subscriber base and line managers could not effectively orchestrate the performance of their sales force.

It carried the not misplaced aura of being easy to use and being made for users.

To attempt to solve those problems, executives examined four industry standard products, eventually narrowing the field down to two, products A and B. This is where the physics, chemistry and math came in. Product A more than met the requirements of the business groups. Thus, it scored high on physics. It scored well in math, too, by virtue of being less expensive than B. Chemistry, however, represented the press of problems with A. It carried the albatross of being perceptibly difficult to use and cumbersome, with references that were not so favorable.

Product B, on the other hand, met most of the critical business requirements but was not as comprehensive in what it offered as A was. Thus, it scored lower than A on physics. Although it carried the perception of being less expensive, B actually came out costlier than A over a period of five years because of recurring per-seat license cost per year. So it lagged A on math, too. On the basis of physics and math, A looked like a runaway winner until chemistry came into play. B had a huge advantage there. It carried the not misplaced aura of being easy to use and being made for users. B had support internally, too. One department that had already been using B was sold on its functionality, ease of use and applicability. This group of sales representatives spoke highly of it and was willing to work as internal catalyst for adoption. Thus, in terms of chemistry, B had a huge advantage and momentum going for it.

With A ahead in physics and math and B setting the pace in chemistry, the ultimate arguments went like this.

With A, the firm would have had a less expensive, gold-standard platform with superior functionality. But, because users were not enthused about utilizing the system, A carried the risk of not being accepted. That would have defeated the company’s purpose in implementing an enterprise system.

B just about managed to meet the demands of the business and was costlier. But the users, including the group already using it, loved it. The prospect of that the system would be enthusiastically employed achieved the objectives set for the initiative.

The firm took a human-centric decision and decided to deploy product B. It has benefited from this decision. The system has been widely accepted and meets the needs of the businesses. The system has enabled the firm to better collaborate with its partners, effectively target prospect base with relevant offers, cross-sell and up-sell products, forecast with a high degree of accuracy and raise the effectiveness of its sales and marketing setup.

Knowing the physics, chemistry and math of your future CRM system will help you make an informed decision and achieve your desired business objectives.

Hrishikesh Trivedi
Cognizant Technology Solutions
Hrishikesh Trivedi is a CRM consultant with Cognizant Business Consulting. He has wide experience in working with global firms on the formulation of CRM strategy and the adoption of CRM systems. He holds a master's degree in business administration from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.


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