What Are The Top CRM Projects Right Now?


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Cloud CRM, mobility, and big data: Are you ready to take the plunge?

Cloud CRM, mobility, and big data: Are you ready to take the plunge?

Still planning your CRM technology projects for the year?

Many CIOs, CTOs, and VPs of technology regularly ask us: Which CRM technology projects are hot, and what business benefits will they deliver? Of course, we hear that question more often as technology executives plan their projects and budgets for the upcoming year.

On the CRM front, then, here are the top four projects on the customer engaged CIO’s list that we’re seeing for 2013:

1. CRM System Replacement For Better Business Value

If your business still relies on legacy CRM software, getting the most bang for your buck is simple: embrace a modern, cloud-based CRM application. Siebel users, we’re talking to you. Now, I did proclaim the end of Siebel way back in 2011, but 2013 will be the “move it or lose it moment” for businesses still running on any type of legacy CRM software–not just Siebel–as your competitors move ahead.

Many businesses have already gotten the replacement message. We have already worked on a plethora of CRM-replacement planning engagements, helping organizations identify the best way to move forward, as well as the business benefits to be derived from doing so. We expect to see many plans put into motion.

For businesses that are still holding out, what’s the rush? Many CIOs embrace Siebel replacement to avoid having to continue investing in training for employees on an outdated platform, not to mention having to maintain a system that relies on unsupported browsers, middleware, and databases. They’ve determined that the legacy infrastructure support costs, information security risks, and all-around core functionality simply aren’t best serving the needs of their business.

Budget-wise, the best way to justify a CRM system replacement, however, isn’t to focus on lower costs. The new CRM system may deliver that, but the real point is to get a system that better supports today’s business reality. Odds are, whatever flavor of legacy CRM system you have in place can’t keep up with the speed at which the business is now changing. One of the biggest benefits of new, modern, cloud-based CRM applications is that they’re much more flexible, adaptable, easy to support, and designed to support the work needs of today’s highly mobile workers.

2. Mobility For The BYOD World

Now that we’re living in a post-PC world, progressive CIOs are investigating the best way to deliver applications and corporate information to mobile devices.

A corollary concern isn’t just delivering or synchronizing customer data, but securing it. As more corporate data is accessed not just using business-issued desktops and laptops, but–per the bring your own device (BYOD) revolution–an employee-owned iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone, BlackBerry, tablet, or anything else that comes along with a screen and a Wi-Fi connection–the challenge of keeping that data secure increases.

Arguably, the most direct solution to these challenges is, again, simply to embrace modern CRM systems, which are designed to securely deliver data to mobile devices. If necessary, add mobile device management software that secures any device–not just for CRM–that your employees choose to use.

3. Big Data, Big Results

Technically speaking, the ideal approach to handling data is simple: Write once, read anywhere. Accordingly, many CIOs tell us that they’re pursuing big data projects, to provide a foundational data infrastructure that makes it easy to integrate systems and share data.

Numerous businesses today–across energy, manufacturing, financial services,pharmaceutical, and many other sectors–have so many systems that easily retrieving a reliable view of any customer or contract is difficult, without some level of system integration. For example, in the service center realm, one of our insurance customers stores essential data on its current customers and policies across 17 different systems. As a result, customer service agents literally have to dance between these different systems, as they attempt to knit together an accurate view of the information they require for fielding a service call.

From a productivity standpoint, businesses need systems integration to deliver “just in time” information to employees on the customer-facing front lines. But CIOs correctly want to avoid the point-to-point integration mistakes of the past, which led to integrations that broke with any small system change or upgrade. Instead, many are pursuing master data management (MDM) programs to more easily support lightweight and repeatable integrations.

Embracing MDM helps make your current CRM software more powerful. One current “must have” sales project, for example, is CPQ–for configuration, pricing, and quoting–which links together sales and order management systems, to make it easier for salespeople to configure products, while reducing the number of incorrect or returned orders. Using CPQ means salespeople can close more deals, while the business reduces the profit hit caused by incorrect orders. But to make CPQ happen, businesses first need data integration.

4. Remaking IT For Cloud Era

As IT departments shift more of their applications and infrastructure to the cloud, traditional IT roles and responsibilities demand a rethink. That’s why many CIOs tell us that they’re placing more emphasis on helping the business select the right cloud vendors–both for core CRM software as well as extending that software. Some CIOs are building a Cloud Center of Excellence inside their organization to help guide business and technology departments to make the best cloud, MDM, and related decisions.

From a project standpoint, meanwhile, cloud projects arguably increase the IT fun factor. For starters, when implementing new software, excessive project documentation and prototyping are out; agile development and rapid, iterative project phases are in. Likewise, whereas CIOs used to devote up to 80% of their budget toward maintaining systems, embracing the cloud frees them to bring their more strategic guns to bear. On the CRM front, that means CIOs can–per above–can launch MDM programs, and facilitate processes such as CPQ (aka “cash to order”). In other words, they can find new “value add” projects that build on current CRM capabilities to enable better productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and improve revenue.

Change Management Starts At Home

One overriding theme for the above hot CRM-related technology projects–across system replacement, mobility, big data, MDM, and rethinking how the IT department will support CRM projects–is the need for careful change management.

Indeed, many CIOs liken replacing a CRM system to changing an automotive transmission, while you’re driving the car. That’s why change management, backed by planning, technical expertise, and rapid, focused project execution will be key. Of course, IT departments themselves are changing, as cloud-based applications free IT personnel to focus less on infrastructure, and more on finding new ways to use technology to support the business.

With the business demand to deliver just-in-time information to employees–no matter where they are, or what device they’re using–continuing to increase, IT departments arguably have their work cut out for them. But by pursuing the above hot projects, CIOs and their IT employees will be ready to meet the challenge.

Learn More

Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading Cloud Solutions Providers and helps businesses maximize their CRM returns by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving your desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Official U.S. Navy Imagery.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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