Hearty Welcome to Customer Champions & Master Minds
I believe "Successful CRM " is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price- but as a differentiator. If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won't give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage. But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it's a much stickier--sustainable--relationship over the long haul.
Thank You for visiting my Blog , Hope you will find the articles useful.
Your Partner & Companion ( P&C)
Dinesh Chandrasekar - DC*
Friday, December 31, 2010
For most, the end of the year signals the holiday season. For analysts, it signals prediction time. Thought leaders and experts across the globe bombard the blogosphere, offering up their opinions, expectations, and prophesies for the upcoming year.
2010 was an exciting year in the CRM space. Promising new products from Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce and other majors were released; we saw a burst of interest in the social CRM (SCRM), CRM SaaS /Cloud computing and major vendors added new functionality to their flagship products, stiffening competition in the enterprise software arena. What can we expect to see in the year ahead? Here are some CRM prophesies for 2011.
Prophesy 1: CRM mates Social Networks
One of the most impactful trends in CRM in the upcoming year would have to be integration of social. This has already started to happen. However, for successful execution, social cannot be an add-on -- rather, it has to be fully integrated into the CRM platform and business processes. In other words, it's not enough to just have a Twitter search in a separate tab without tying it back to the contact record. Simply adding a Twitter handle to the contact record is also not enough to qualify as Social CRM. It has to flow through every process, and relevant communications have to be captured in the record, so that everyone in the organization can be on the same virtual page.
In this journey Privacy is going to continue to get mindshare in 2011. Businesses and consumers will continue to define the boundaries of what data is OK to collect, for how long it's OK to keep, and in what ways can it be accessed and referenced with other data. Platforms like Facebook that collect and sell social data will also walk the line between businesses wanting to use this information and consumers wanting to protect it.
Prophesy 2: CRM floats in the Cloud
How quickly will the industry's migration to the cloud take place, and what will this mean to more 'traditional' (i.e. on-premise, enterprise software) vendors? Salesforce.com is the clear success story but which other CRM vendors will benefit from customers shifting their CRM efforts to the cloud? On a related note, we should also be watching the movement of customer data not just to the cloud, but integrated IN the cloud. Salesforce is leading the charge with their integration of Jigsaw (appropriately enough, labeled 'Data Cloud') - there is tremendous value to be gained by companies integrating their customer and prospect data with third-party services and data, but at the same time there are huge privacy implications. Oracle too is seriously building its Cloud Capability and there is some undercover operation to come overnight with exciting version of CRM on Demand. The war in the Cloud is gonna intensify and hope you will see some exciting thunderbolts and Lightening and rain some good offers to Business Community.
Prophesy 3: CRM 3.0
If it wasn’t clear before: we now absolutely live in an instantaneous and interconnected world that our CRM processes must reflect. Growth of open CRM systems, particularly “as a service” platforms will accelerate to leverage social, mobile and global dimensions of essentially the same issue of managing and facilitating customer relationships. Self-serve will gain more prominence as technology makes it easier to facilitate cross-communication among customers. Salesforce.com’s launch of database.com will trigger a new trend towards taking the PAIN out of everything data-related: creating, consolidating, cleansing, appending and extracting intelligence. The idea is bring all these functions into one place, including applying domain expertise. You could argue that benefits might be limited to a particular platform, but this phenomenon will gain momentum as more CRM systems “open-up” as well.
Prophesy 4: Intelligence Cocktail
Embedded BI/predictive actions: Insights are good, but actions are better because ultimately they drive revenue, save costs or increase margins. Companies already invested in CRM will seek to get more out of it by increasing high value analytic content and driving consistent actions across and within all channels. With analytic integration further facilitated by tools such as predictive modeling markup language (PMML), the latency from data to actions will decline dramatically. Micro Analytics: Let’s hit singles. That’s the message we are hearing from many of our clients: understand and solve a key problem critical to success of our major initiative(s). Prospecting and lead generation, new product launch, multi-channel adoption and category penetration are some areas we are asked to solve specific challenges. And it is understandable, given the pressure to show results fast it is difficult to address a number of problems or prepare infrastructure to so do.
Prophesy 5: CRM -One for the Road
I think 2011 will be the year when CRM finally hits the mobile device. With the take off of Apples iPAD and a fresh wave of applications to support mobile and offline working finally hitting the pockets of millions of information workers. Mobile CRM which has always been a "maybe someday" will finally become a "yes, let's do it" . All mobile and Crm vendors geared to deliver the mobile crm sleek and Sexy. Call it Technology, Competition and whatever this is one Street Smart Application that’s gonna make some CRM Rock stars
Prophesy6: From CRM to CEO (Customer Experience Optimization)
The role of CRM needs to change dramatically from Customer Relationship Management to Customer Experience Optimization (CEO). Currently CRM is a database that other functions in the company use. CRM collects and holds customer data and other functions like marketing, loyalty programs, etc. access this data and use it as needed to fulfill their roles and needs. CEO is a attitude supported by CRM application which manages and approves all areas of a company that impact customers. CEO predicts the complete future expected lifecycles of customers along all the separate dimensions of their behavior using predictive analytics with CRM database. Customers are the most valuable asset for any company and they need a corporate department whose role is to optimize their lifetime value to the organization – not just collect their data. CEO will assure that all interactions with customers are for things the customer is expected to actually want or be interested in learning about, and that there are not too many interactions. Only the interactions that are best for the company (which would be those that build lifetime loyalty from the customer) are allowed to reach the customer.
We cannot delay this CRM Prophecies in 2011 and but to be part of it.. Customers are getting too smart and we are falling too far behind. We cannot stand frozen in fear and complain that we do not know how to begin and that no one has done this yet. Competitors will start to do this. The only question to answer is how far behind your competition can you afford to fall and how that will affect your relationships with your customers – and how long it will take you to catch up.
Get Ready, Steady, Go………….2011 Happy New Year Amigos
DC* Version 220.127.116.11
Thursday, December 30, 2010
There is an important rivalry shaping up between Salesforce.com and Oracle’s CRM on Demand and you know what -Salesforce is one of the large Oracle customer – running its data centers on Oracle databases and middleware. It’s bitter and sweet to have your competitor as your customer too. .
It reminds me of Ellison’s decade-long battle with CRM pioneer Tom Siebel (another of his protégés). We all know how that ended: Oracle had the last word by acquiring a battered Siebel (battered by the economy more than Oracle, really). However, we have to think that Tom Siebel rests easy knowing that Oracle needed to own Siebel to own CRM. Afterall, Oracle CRM On Demand is the former Siebel On Demand .Does Oracle need to own Salesforce to own on-demand CRM? Let’s look at some of the factors that might answer that question.
From a market share standpoint, Oracle edges out Salesforce with roughly $1.5 billion in CRM revenue (according to Gartner), versus a little over $1 billion for Salesforce. However, Oracle’s CRM On Demand business is probably more like $400 million of the company’s $874 million in annual On Demand revenue (CRM, ERP, etc.). So, when it comes to cloud-based CRM, Salesforce appears to be a clear leader.
Moreover, Salesforce seems to have the momentum. It’s revenue grew about 25% last year, while Oracle’s On Demand revenue was up about half that at 12%. Maybe CRM On Demand grew faster than Oracle On Demand overall, maybe not. Still, both company’s double-digit gains in revenue are impressive, given the current sorry state of the economy.
Both products have achieved success by offering quick time-to-value, robust usability and low up-front costs. Those are cloud computing table stakes. Next up, we’ll see a battle for functional completeness. The table below illustrates what we believe represents each vendor’s functional depth by application category.
To give some credibility to these numbers, let look at what industry analyst firms had to say on the topic. Forrester says that both Salesforce.com and Oracle CRM On Demand are gaining ground in the CRM space. Salesforce still leads, but Oracle CRM On Demand is experiencing most of its growth in the Oracle applications installed base. Oracle CRM On Demand has also become a leader in sales force automation (SFA), and with it’s purchase of Market2Lead in May of this year, it is attempting to extend it’s capabilities in marketing automation as well. Oracle CRM On Demand still lags in it’s customer service offering, an area where Salesforce’s Service Cloud 2 reigns. For the market as a whole, Gartner predicts a 6% shift in overall market share for SaaS vendors by 2014. This means more space for Benioff, Ellison and others to duke it out over.
Salesforce is differentiating through its innovation and pure-play CRM story. It certainly seems to have occupied the right mind share – that of the innovative, next-generation CRM vendor with the easy-to-use application. This stands in contrast to the Siebel legacy – complex enterprise software, difficult to use and designed for the largest companies. While CRM On Demand is absolutely a different beast, it’s tough to shed that baggage. Salesforce is also executing on its platform strategy, Force.com, which enables an army of partners to develop application extensions for add-on functionality and vertical solutions. Finally, Salesforce is making a lot of, er, chatter about its new social CRM app, Chatter. That app, a “Facebook for the Enterprise” is certainly not a sure thing, but it is reinforcing the image of Salesforce as an innovator.
Oracle differentiates itself through its Siebel domain expertise, vertical market focus, and its roll as a consolidator. Oracle’s purchase of Siebel catapulted them into a leading position in the CRM market. The Siebel CRM applications remain the most functionally complete CRM apps available. Oracle’s ability to transfer this domain expertise to CRM On Demand makes for a good story, and may well deliver. Finally, Oracle has a strong enterprise-wide story to tell when it sells the vision of front-to-back office integration. Oracle’s broad application suite and Fusion integration story back this up. Even with its partner ecosystem, we don’t expect Salesforce to try to compete enterprise-wide any time soon.
So Whats up for 2011
Of course, this Silicon Valley rivalry might be drawing attention away from the very real market share gains of SAP and Microsoft. Gartner has rated SAP as the CRM market share leader again this year. Microsoft has gained considerable momentum with Dynamics CRM. Will personal rivalries lead Oracle and Salesforce to overlook both threats? Or will the competitive intensity drive further innovation for the customer?
If we get out our crystal ball, we see Salesforce continuing to lead in both market share and momentum in the years to come. They are focused, they have a great product and they execute well. Unlike Siebel’s reliance on large, perpetual license deals, the Salesforce subscription revenue model reduces the chance of a major implosion, like the one that made Siebel prey for Oracle.
However, should a prolonged recession or loss of focus at Salesforce lead to stagnation and a drop in share price, we think Larry would scoop up Salesforce in a second. End of the Day its purely about which one of these could do the CEO Magic , I meant Customer Experience Optimization…
Happy New Year Amigos, Get Ready for the battle w Fun in the New Year 2011
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Once a decade, a technology emerges that fundamentally changes the business landscape. In every case, companies that understand the technology win out. The 1970s had mainframe computing, and the ’80s brought us the personal computer. In the 1990s, the Internet revolutionized communications. Today, social technologies are rewriting all the rules. Welcome to the World Wide Web of people, an era of human connectivity on a scale never before seen, and altering every aspect of the customer life cycle. Marketers and salespeople need to be where customers are, and need to communicate through the channels customers prefer. That means participating alongside the 500 million people on Facebook worldwide, and the 75 million on Twitter, and recognizing these sites as important sources of information. Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites have become CRM for individuals. They’re how a growing number of people manage relationships across personal and professional realms. Social media is reminding us — and vendors — that CRM should be about customers, not technology. The future of CRM will be transparent, customer-centric, and customer-driven.
Twitter & Facebook exposes weaknesses and strengths, rants and raves, anything that anyone, located anywhere, wants to say about your company. Response time, tone, and actions allow companies to become transparent about their values, building (or eroding) their brands. Better yet, when a customer comes to a brand’s defense, that loyalty gets showcased to the world. Online social networks, in other words, are bidirectional CRM. Customers and prospects can (and want to) learn as much about you as you know about them. Every person maintains her own profile, so companies are no longer solely responsible for keeping customer data up-to-date. Privacy controls and the opt-in nature of Facebook fan pages and Twitter allow companies to generate high-quality — and highly qualified — leads while respecting individuals’ privacy preferences.
Thanks to social media, people are sharing more about themselves online than ever before. Everything individuals share about themselves on their profiles, including hometowns, alma maters, jobs, and hobbies, can be used by marketers and sales to personalize — and even “hypertarget” — communications. With hypertargeting, marketers can specify which audience segments see which ads — people with, say, “chief information officer” or “marketing” in their job titles. Social CRM applications can enable users to view social media profiles and connections from within their lead and contact records to learn more about prospects and build better relationships with customers, improving the customer centricity of their interactions. And just in time, too. Prospects will no longer tolerate a generic, product-centric sales pitch. They expect you to have done your homework about their company, industry, and personal preferences, and to come prepared.
The World Wide Web of information was content overload, overwhelming users with too many choices. The World Wide Web of people relies on those we like and trust as filters, delivering information that helps us decide what to read, what to buy, and what to do. Because of their broadcast nature, Facebook and Twitter are ideal platforms for word of mouth, which means existing customers will become a critical prospecting engine.To cope with this new reality, companies need to rethink CRM from the ground up. They’ll likely need to invest more in customer loyalty and take steps to empower customers with tools, information, and incentives to be an effective sales and marketing force.
Facebook CRM Empire, The Black BoX CRM
According to the Facebook (as of December 2010), the average Facebook user “Likes” nine pieces of content very month. With over half a billion users worldwide, that translates to more than 4.5 billion Likes per month and 54 billion Likes per year on everything from news articles, to jeans, to movies, and even real-live activities and events. Each of these Likes is tied to a real person for whom Facebook has detailed identity information. Although it hasn’t yet been monetized, this data and the analytics applied to it, could become the basis for Facebook’s core revenue model. On Facebook, you are the product.
For every Like that is made, Facebook is able to correspond a product affiliation to demographic information such as sex, age, geography, and education, as well as social graph data about relationships and influence within a group. With Places, Facebook can even correlate product activity to mobile location data. If mobile payments ever take off, they could get actual sales data as well. What Happens When Facebook Trumps Your Brand Site? (Alternate blog title is: How Facebook Became the Biggest CRM Provider). The online article was accompanied by the following graphic showing the top ten brands on Facebook (in terms of total Likes):
Top brands are garnering millions of Likes, yet only driving a couple hundred thousand visitors per year to their branded sites. What this all means is that Facebook has better data about customers than most consumer products companies do. For many marketers, their Facebook fan bases have become their largest web presence, outstripping brand sites or e-mail programs either because a brand’s traditional web-based “owned media” is atrophying or because more consumers are migrating to social media.
While fan pages may work a lot like a marketer’s traditional “owned media,” they’re not actually owned by the marketers. Facebook hosts the pages and provides analytics for free, but growing marketer dependency on the network for CRM programs, combined with simultaneous declines in traffic for many of their own brand websites, could give Facebook a valuable revenue opportunity.
Of course, it would be difficult to sell granular individual data about users (people would object); however, Facebook could sell aggregate data (trend analysis and market research) and act as a “black box” CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution whereby companies offer targeted promotions and messaging to individuals with select profile characteristics, mediated through Facebook. Already some companies are using basic Like data to hone their retail strategies. In one example, a retail major is arranging clothing in its online store based on Like activity and offering select promotions to all those who have liked products. Additionally, Facebook is making information about the Like activity on ads (i.e. “social context” data) available to advertisers on its site. Armed with this data, advertisers can decide to further optimize campaigns by targeting people who have expressed a Like for the ad.
With the Like button, Facebook is benefiting from the power of weak tie relationships (Facebook calls it “lightweight sharing”). Many markets point to the fact that people that Like a product aren’t real fans or brand advocates in the traditional sense. This is s feature, not a bug. By lowering the bar for Liking something, Facebook has opened a channel to—and is gathering data about—ordinary consumers of the brand who otherwise would have no formal connection to the company or its products other than isolated, anonymous purchases. This connection can be potentially valuable in terms of loyalty programs and promotions, market research, and customer support.
A number of factors suggest that the number of Likes will probably continue to grow, including: the continuing growth of the Facebook user base expansion in global markets (70% of Facebook users are outside the U.S.), the recent proliferation of the Like button on a range of products and services (the Like button is now on over 350,000 sites), and the growing use of mobile technologies that allow users to Like physical products and experiences. With this in mind, it’s by no means hyperbolic to think that Facebook could be the largest single CRM provider in the world.
This is an exciting time for CRM. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media have made the Internet better: At long last, it’s all about people and their experience. Customers can finally become the true focus of CRM.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Mobile CRM devices let users take CRM and sales force automation (SFA) systems on the road for access anytime. Mobile CRM has long promised to answer the question of how to keep field force connected and up to date with company and customer records. Using mobile CRM, sales/Field force has simple, easy access to information through wireless devices
Much as software as a service (SaaS) rose to prominence with CRM, the promise of mobile computing has centered around CRM as well, as companies sought to provide salespeople out on the road with the latest information on prospects and customers. while mobile CRM may never have fully lived up to its initial hype, in some ways it delivered, with most CRM vendors offering some mobile capability with their sales force automation (SFA) applications, unleashing and enabling organizations’ "road warriors." With the emergence and – now -- ubiquity of smart phones, much of the focus and development around mobile applications from vendors has shifted to business intelligence (BI) and providing slick dashboards and reports to executives on the move. For example, in the wake of SAP's acquisition of Sybase, SAP's motto has become "anytime, anywhere, any device," and early demos and promises have focused on BI. But there is plenty of opportunity for mobility in CRM outside of SFA. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the topic consulting house found that mobile enablement is the top spending priority for the organization's members next year, with 34% of field service members having approved a budget increase for mobility.
M’ Knowledge Management
In terms of mobile CRM for service, knowledge management has become a particular area of interest. As companies seek to reuse support content created across multiple departments and subsequently reduce multiple knowledge bases and the search tools required to manage them, they are seeking a cohesive knowledge management strategy. And as they amass this information in one central repository, employees need to access it.Some CRM vendors have begun to extend mobile support capabilities to consumers, allowing them to solve problems themselves from a mobile device.
Mobile CRM beyond SFA
Today, mobile enablement for sales means more than just SFA, Many CRM vendors offer mobile CRM application to the iPhone and BlackBerry, but the way forward is mobile-enable other modules from ERP applications that will benefit sales. Such as - order placement, time and travel, dispatch -- those are on the list for mobilization first. For companies mobilizing their CRM systems and complementary applications, this means thinking carefully about what to enable first.
Enterprise CRM integration with Mobile
Not long ago, integrating an enterprise-wide CRM system with mobile devices was costly, time consuming and riddled with challenges. That is still the perception, but it's not necessarily reality anymore.
There are essentially four steps to effectively integrating CRM systems and mobile devices:
Step 1 -- The needs analysis phase
This is the "do your homework" phase from a business, technical and practical standpoint. Do not rush this stage. Here, it is important to understand the difference between technical needs and the desires of users, and to make it clear to end users that the mobile device is to be used in conjunction with CRM applications and not as a replacement for a PC or laptop. Beyond assessing the needs of individual users and management, it is important to understand the business needs of the entire organization. One key thing to keep in mind for the needs analysis phase -- and one that should prevail during the integration process -- is that the mobile CRM system has to grow and evolve with business and technical changes in the organization.
Step 2 – The mobile design phase
After the needs analysis phase, design is the next critical step. Because there is limited screen size and storage on a mobile device, a user must have access to an intranet to recall specific information at a moment's notice and to be able to input data for use across the enterprise. However, this raises a number of technical concerns regarding security, authentication and data input of sensitive or proprietary information. Organizations need to understand that massive amounts of data, including customer trends, pricing tables (by territory) and other customized fields need to be available in real time with a data-input option.
Integrating a robust CRM system with mobile devices, which often average about 2GB of memory, can be a daunting task on the surface level. We first determine what data is most important to display and then develop appropriate screens to view it within the limits of the device. We balance local storage of data with real-time access on the device, allowing users the option to work off-line with as much data as needed. This Mobile Web application communicates with a host database and allows field representatives to draw real-time information simply by clicking an icon on the mobile device. In addition, implementing a rules-based push to a BlackBerry or another mobile device avoids the need to synchronize all information. Instead, only the appropriate amount and most relevant information is delivered at the right time.
Step 3 – The mobile application testing phase
The main objective of the testing phase is to gain user acceptance through education. This often starts with a group of beta testers, who are trained and prepared to implement a new and improved mobile CRM system. We advise clients to choose beta testers who will also serve as champions of CRM mobile integration. This group should include 10% to 20% of the desired user base. From a technical standpoint, the testing phase is for functional and performance testing, to make sure the software and mobile infrastructure meet the project goals and objectives. This is the time to test the configuration of the live application server environment and security.
From a practical standpoint, avoid the common mistake of assuming that mobile-device users will intuitively utilize mobile CRM applications with little-to-no preparation and technical training -- simply because they are good at sending and receiving emails and looking up contact information. Extended capabilities through Web services can be tricky for first-time users, and therefore accessible, interactive training is a must.
Armed with information gathered from the beta program, in-house IT and, in some cases, integration consultants are able to adjust the infrastructure (without overloading it) and bring the program up to meet the objectives laid out in the needs analysis phase.
As you're going through the implementation process, remember to deliver prototypes to the end-user community. This will grant them the flexibility to request changes so that IT can make adjustments to ensure that the mobile CRM applications will work the way they need them to. This process significantly increases end-user adoption.
Step 4 – The mobile rollout phase
Technical adjustments have been made (although upgrades make this a work in progress), the objectives are in sight, and the feedback from beta testers is in place. Now it's time to roll out the new program to the users. This does not entail simple "keystroke education" but, rather, a comprehensive training program to help users understand the key technical aspects and ensure buy-in.
Remember, the biggest challenge for new end users is "confinement." Users who are accustomed to CRM on a PC, with its large screen, keyboard, dashboards and expansive database, often have a difficult time adjusting and feel restrained when using a large program on a device usually reserved for email, contacts and phone calls. We havelearnt that one way to avoid this problem is to make sure the vendor installing mobile CRM is experienced at training end users until they are comfortable with the application.
It is critical to get the IT department, the end users and management on the same page, especially during the first three steps, so that the program is implemented correctly and effectively meets business objectives. As mentioned, it is also important to ensure that the system is flexible and adaptable enough to grow with the business. Remember, mobile technology is continuously evolving, so it is best to avoid getting tied to specific hardware or one software-operating platform.
Our experiences have shown that end users quickly understand the practicality and benefits of mobile CRM applications. With mobile CRM, quick information is at hand in the field, on a plane, or even in a remote territory, where booting up a PC or laptop is a challenge. Being able to enter information in real time and quickly retrieve client and target data and even business intelligence are often key benefits for organizations using mobile CRM applications.
Accelerating the ROI of Mobile CRM Initiatives
CRM binds Mergers & Acquisitions-Financial Industry Perspective
The financial industry has undergone much change over the past decade. Among the most-notable trends has been the movement toward consolidation -- namely mergers and acquisitions. However, the overwhelming majority of corporate M&As do not produce the envisioned increased revenue and profits, often because the merged entity fails to adequately leverage the combining organizations' strengths.
As part of their sales responsibilities, financial services professionals religiously network with business and other institutions ultimately to generate business opportunities. Over time, their networks of relationships become ongoing sources of referrals and new business. In theory, the networks and their power would be doubled after two companies join forces.
After a merger, however, a major disconnect immediately emerges because the relationship networks between the two formerly independent firms are not integrated. In most instances immediately following a merger, individuals are not well acquainted with the new bankers or other financial service professionals that now comprise their firm, let alone the relationships that they possess that could be instrumental in business development. But it is precisely a firm's ability to capture and track these additional relationship networks that will determine how successful the merger will be.
At many successful financial institutions, CRM software capable of managing and tracking relationship intelligence has been implemented to help leverage the collective relationship networks of all investment professionals within the organization. CRM software also can play a key role in quickly linking the relationship networks of all the employees within the newly combined entity. Through social networking functions built into these systems, users can instantly view who else within the firm has a relationship with, for example, a prospective client. Some systems also offer relationship-mapping capabilities, providing users with a relationship pathway to a prospect via intermediary relationships.
How CRM Drives Revenue Post Merger
The examples below illustrate how CRM software can help a firm generate more revenue post merger:
1. Uncovering new strategic relationships. A banker's ability to leverage the firm's strategic relationships with clients and contacts is fundamental in business development. After a merger, the number of potentially valuable relationships has just multiplied. A CRM system will instantly reveal those relationships, providing new avenues to win business.
2. Enhanced cross-selling capabilities. Cross-selling serves as one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to generate revenues. To succeed at cross-selling, employees must have a 360-degree view of the client's relationship with the firm. However, in a post-merger environment, where familiarity with new team members is naturally at its lowest, effectively aggregating experience and expertise information and applying it to existing opportunities can be a near impossible task. CRM systems can drastically reduce a firm's unfamiliarity with its own knowledge resources and increase visibility of the relationship intelligence required in effective cross-selling. For example, CRM systems can integrate with human resources, contact managers and other back-office systems and combine this data to provide a holistic view of clients and their entire relationship with the organization. Once deployed, this allows users to instantly view profiles of clients, previous transactions and the like, greatly simplifying the process of recognizing and appropriately staffing new accounts with employees who have relevant experience.
3. Retaining institutional knowledge. When key staff retire, leave the company, or take a personal or medical leave, a company's ability to service customers and pursue new business can be significantly affected. This is accentuated in knowledge-based industries, where the retention of an employee's institutional knowledge after a departure is critical in allowing a company's key assets to persist. CRM prevents information from walking out the door when professionals leave, allowing the other employees or new hires to take advantage of the valuable information that leads to new business opportunities.
4. Experience and expertise tracking. Staffing appropriately to meet clients' needs can be tricky after a merger, as new experience and expertise is now available. Employees benefit greatly with access to information about the collective experience and expertise of all professionals in the newly merged entity. The selected CRM solution should be able to make this intelligence available. Likewise, CRM can help ensure that specific background and intelligence are not lost. In the first -- and often turbulent -- 90 days following a merger, staff members may seek opportunities with other organizations. Their departures from the merged entity can result in a loss of internal intelligence if relationship and deal intelligence is not properly captured in a central repository.
5. Maintaining high standards of client service. After the merger, client service often slips as staff members struggle to learn new clients' preferences, likes and dislikes. This aggressive learning curve can be avoided with CRM software, which provides a centralized knowledge resource that enables anyone who touches the client to access critical client information. Leading CRM packages also have sophisticated built-in data-quality and data-change management tools. This is critical because as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of all contact data possessed by the merging entities can be duplicate and/or inconsistent. Without tools to identify potentially inaccurate, repeated or out-of-date information, client and prospect communications will suffer, causing unnecessary embarrassment to the organization and client doubts about the firm's ability to emerge stronger from the business combination. CRM systems also can be used as tools by client relationship managers to ensure consistency among all client touch points. During the tumult of a merger, important client activities can easily be overlooked or forgotten. To minimize these risks, business activity monitoring functionality within the CRM system can be set to notify a banker of specific events or nonevents warranting his or her attention.
A merger can be a shrewd business move if executed properly, with revenue growth as its primary objective. To achieve that objective, having the right infrastructure in place to aggregate, manage and share relationship intelligence is critical. In a post-merger environment, the need for a centralized CRM system is critical to enabling the firm to capitalize on the strengths of the combined entity while enabling consistent, high levels of client care. Any firm considering a merger or acquisition should think twice if it does not have the CRM infrastructure already in place to ensure revenue growth and consistent client service. Otherwise, the success of the merger can be placed in peril.
Good Luck Amigos
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas and May God bless you with Peace, Harmony and Integration with your loving ones in this holiday season. For CRM to really work its magic, integration must be a crucial ingredient
In recent years, enterprise application integration (EAI) vendors have attempted to address the challenges of integration by providing a collection of proprietary adapters and integration servers. Although EAI solutions are effective, they can require a substantial initial investment in hardware, software and training. A more cost-effective option is the use of Web services, a set of emerging standards that enable interoperability among various IT processes and systems.
What are Web services?
The term Web services refers to a group of evolving standards that allow applications to communicate with other applications -- regardless of platform and application language differences -- over the Internet. In other words, Web services enable cross-platform, program-to-program communications. Web services are loosely coupled software components delivered over standard Internet technologies. Web services are platform- and vendor-neutral protocols that enable different applications from different sources to communicate with one another in a common XML format without time-consuming custom coding. Using Web services allows IT organizations to focus more on building application infrastructures based on standards, rather than on proprietary technologies -- an important foundation for building more agile enterprises.
Using Web services to integrate CRM applications can benefit the organization in many ways. Overall, organizations using Web services for integration have the potential to become more efficient and responsive to market changes and competitive pressures. Web services can help companies resolve system interoperability challenges by reusing components, which can reduce application integration costs. Web services also establish a common format for sharing information and data, which enables enterprises to overcome system incompatibility issues and can contribute to faster user adoption.
Web services can help an organization cost-effectively and efficiently integrate on-demand self-service applications and interactive voice response (IVR) systems with the core CRM application. They enable organizations to exchange data and information seamlessly between self-service tools and modules and the CRM application without having to undergo a lengthy and complicated integration process.
Although Web services provide effective integration mechanisms, they do have some shortcomings. The user interface is inflexible and, because of interdependencies, customization is not easy. It is a relatively new technology, so the standards and specifications are still evolving. As an HTTP-based protocol, Web services are also vulnerable to security threats and must be implemented using authentication mechanisms and SSL-enabled encryptions.
How Web services aid CRM application integration
Integration between any two applications using Web services requires a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The SOA binds the services, which are delivered by an application server environment. A Web server provides the HTTP network transport for accessing the service, while the application server hosts the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) interface. The Web service also provides object components that make up the service, and the object components provide the business service layer above the applications. The end result? A Web service extract underlying applications provides distinct services that aid in well-defined business processes.
The following steps constitute a standard procedure for integrating a CRM application using Web services. The timeline and duration of the implementation will differ from one application to another because it depends on the number of business entities to be integrated and the number of Web services that need to be developed. Likewise, implementation procedures and processes will differ for integration between any two applications -- but the elements and the technology that are used to transact data will remain the same. Here are some technical principles to keep in mind:
• Data transactions should be in eXtensible Markup Language (XML); XML is a language that provides a standard way of representing data and information.
• Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) should be used for listing and locating applications. UDDI is a "directory standard" that is provided by some application tools as a built-in service to use during integration.
• The Web Services Description Language (WSDL) file should be obtained from the third-party application to which data needs to be sent or retrieved. WSDL is a "descriptor standard" that an application uses to describe its interface and interaction rules to other applications. WSDL is a document written in XML; the document describes a Web service. It specifies the location of the service and the operations (or methods) the service exposes. A WSDL document can also contain other elements, like extension elements and a service element that makes it possible to group together the definitions of several Web services in a single WSDL document.
• Leverage WSDL with the help of proprietary tools provided for each application and generate the XML message required to meet that data structure.
• XML data is then transmitted using SOAP, which is a lightweight protocol for exchange of information. It is an XML-based protocol that consists of three parts: an envelope that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process it, a set of encoding rules for expressing instances of application-defined data types, and a convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses.
• SOAP can be used in protocols like HTTP and HTTP Extension Framework. The HTTP communication protocol helps to post or query third-party applications using XML data mentioned above.
How to get started with CRM integration using Web services
If you're considering the use of Web services as part of your CRM initiative, the first step is to analyze the existing application servers, application development environments, and their ability to extend with Web services.Secondly, analyze and assess the data in multiple customer management systems before embarking on an integration project using Web services.
Once those steps are complete, you are ready to begin integration of the CRM application using Web services. While Web services technology is still maturing, it has proved successful for integrating most CRM applications.
Good Luck Amigos and Happy Integration in the New Year 2011
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This thought is very special and close to my heart. It’s very much inspired from the movie “Inception” and the theme of movie reads as follows
“In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind a single idea can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset”. For the people who missed this movie a quick synopsis.
“Corporate thief Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an expert in stealing information from where it is most unattainable, the inner-most depths of the human subconscious. Highly skilled in the practice of extraction, the process of entering an individual’s dream to steal their thoughts and secrets, Cobb’s life has become completely dominated by his intricate and dangerous career. Wanted by the police and unable to return home to his children, Cobb takes on one last job for wealthy business man Saito (Ken Watanabe), who promises to make it possible for Cobb to travel home should he and his team complete the mission successfully. However, Saito does not want to steal an idea from an individual’s mind, he wants to plant one. Cobb and his team believe this process, known as inception, to be near impossible; but driven by the desire to escape his life bound by a world of dreams and haunted by the guilt surrounding a past personal tragedy, Cobb delves into the target's subconscious in the hope he can finally return to reality. In the movie’s tale of corporate Intelligence, we are asked to ponder this moment's most disturbing epistemological questions: Namely, how are ideas deposited in people's minds and how incurable are those ideas when they are wrong?
I strongly believe “Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price- but as a differentiator. If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won't give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage. But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it's a much stickier--sustainable--relationship over the long haul."
Having said all this how would you plant a powerful CRM vision in people’s mind? Is there a scientific method to do this or this art possible only for few talented individuals like our DoM Cobb in inception movie. Frankly speaking I am clueless but something tells me this is possible when you believe such thing can be done. Here are some wild unstructured thoughts on this Inception.
Everything in life starts off as an idea
As benign as it sounds, it is from the planting of this idea in people’s mind that will set in motion the steps that will eventually lead to the vision of building CRM. Once the idea is planted in a person’s mind, it’ll change the person’s reality – forever. There is no stopping it after that. If we think about our goals and dreams, they all have to start off as ideas in our minds. It’s not possible for anything in the physical world to exist without ever having been created mentally. Look around at everything in your reality. Your Laptop, Your spectacles (if you wear them), Your office. All of them began at some point in time as a seed, an idea, in someone’s mind – whether it’s the architect, the designer, the engineer etc.
What this means is you should be pay less attention to what’s possible and what’s not possible (physical reality) and focus more on thinking about what you want (mental reality). Because once you discover what inspires you, that truly drives you, you’ll take the actions necessary to bring it to life. To create your success in the physical world, you have to first have to be clear of how it looks like mentally.
The CRM idea is for your organization to get CEO (Customer Experience Optimization) reality. This idea needs to be planted in the minds of top executives of the organization and once planted it will create a chain reactions and don’t be afraid to answer the questions that it may trigger both positives and negatives.
The kind of seeds you plant in the mind is absolutely important. Expose yourself to best of the best CRM ideas, books, blogs, conscious/driven people, because the things you’re in contact with will affect the kind of seeds planted in your mind. If you expose yourself to junk entertainment and negative people, you’re going to get lousy seeds that grow into weeds. If you surround yourself with the absolute best, you’ll generate top CRM ideas.
Avoidance is not a solution
Or in other words – “Don’t bury unresolved issues”. The best way to deal with our issues is to deal with them straight on. There could be “n” number of challenges in convincing the team for the CRM project. The more you avoid such challenges more they will kill the spirit. The best way is to conceive this idea and try collecting more valid strong facts to support the CRM initiative.
Everything you experience has a root cause
Issues or challenges were not created out of thin air. Every problem we face has its own root cause. For example, if you’re procrastinating on your CRM goals, there’s a reason why you’re procrastinating. The problem isn’t procrastination, something which many people misdiagnose. The problem isn’t lack of discipline either. The problem is something underneath; a root cause to be uncovered and addressed. One main root cause is lack of buying from key people in the organization and the best way to address this not by procrastinating rather than proactively exhibit the tangle benefits of CRM for your organization. if you’re facing a problem, trying to tackle the problem itself will only solve it temporarily. For example, forcing yourself not to procrastinate addresses your procrastination within that one-off incident, but it does not solve the real issue of why you even procrastinate to begin with. Forcing yourself to go to work in a passionless job will help you to last another day, or week, but it does not solve the original problem that you’re working in a place you don’t like. The issue (or manifestations of the issue) will keep coming again and again, in different forms, until you get to the core and tackle the root cause. This is the same problem why people are looped in patterns of behaviors in their life and don’t break out of it even though they try to – it’s because they are addressing the effects and not the real issues that arose to the patterns. Once you truly understand what the root cause is, the issue will automatically dissipate. The same is very much true in the CRM case
When you resist others, you cause them pain you don’t know
Is there anyone you are / have been resisting in your Organization? Every time we resist someone, especially someone close to us, we cause them pain that we are not aware of. The person may seem okay on the outside, but he/she is actually hurt on the inside. This happens when you try to push your CRM ideas to people rather than planting the seed of CRM. The more deeper they are hurt the more shit your gonna face in the CRM journey.
Positive motivators are stronger than negative motivators
In an organization, there are always 2 key groups of motivators. One is fear. The second is love. Fear, or negative motivators, refer to feelings of trepidation or anxiety that drive us into action. For example, doing something in fear of punishment/losing out/competition/being lesser than others. While these can drive us to take action, it’s short-lived. We only act when such feelings are stirred. In the long-run, it creates wear and tear in our system. It also creates inner weariness, as we’re just acting out of fear/pride/scorn.
On the other hand, love/inspiration, or positive motivators, are the true north drivers that will spur us endlessly, day after day, in joy and happiness. Focus on doing what you love and happiness will ensue. If you’re truly pursuing something you love, your love for it will drive you to places which you can’t even imagine. What we need is the true CRM champions who are positive Bees that spread the message of CRM inside and outside of the organization. They create positive vibes all around and set the stage for the CRM start rolling.
You’re not alone in your problems
Sometimes you might feel you’re overwhelmed with problems and you feel you’re the only person in this world dealing with them. However, it’s not like that at all. Everyone, everyone you see around you, has his/her own problems and challenges to deal with. So don’t think you’re by yourself in what you’re going through. If you’re facing this problem, there are at least tens of thousands of people out there who is undergoing the same thing too. You’re not alone. We’re all here for one another. Try to share your views ,opinions with like minded CRM advocates, Evangelist. Consulting is not always expensive atleast with the boom of Social networking consulting made easy and its always mutual beneficial to both the parties. I believe there is lot more to this Inception and these amateur thoughts wouldn’t be sufficient to justify all of that in my mind. Anyways I believe this is a good start and will keep exploring more of it and watch this space for the Sequel.
How About You?
How do you find thoughts above? Did you have any take away any lessons from Inception or do you have any additional thoughts that are not listed above and if so, Let’s share them with everyone here :)
Wishing Merry Christmas, Fulfilled Holidays and Happy New Year
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The combination of some technologies are real killer combos such one is CRM and BI, I call it a Match Made in Enterprise and it’s here to stay for a long. Nevertheless like any other integration it has its own challenges and some honey to make money ( good results )Ultimately, a BI tool is most beneficial when that tool has deep, rich data to analyze, such as the information stored in a CRM system. The bottom line is that BI tools help companies organize and manage customer and transaction data, from top to bottom, by improving tactical and strategic decision-making for company growth.
Purpose-built BI tools such as Oracle BI Apps, SAP Business Objects, Cognos ,Informatica and Microsoft BI Analytics are designed to pull information from a variety of business systems and organize it into a business "dashboard." Dashboards provide visual summaries of key business information. The power of the dashboard comes from connecting it to live data generated by, say, a CRM application. Dashboards consolidate information in real time and display key performance indicators (KPIs) or key financial indicators (KFIs), which are high-level gauges of how the organization is performing against specific goals.A business owner can quickly scan KPIs through the dashboard and drill down into them to make informed business decisions and projections, spot trends, and manage the overall health of the organization. Typical KPIs include sales and revenue forecasts, financial budgets, cash flow, lead conversion rates (in sales), and inventory turnover (inventory management). The dashboard also allows users to add information or statistics that may be unique to a company or industry via customizations.
Objectives for a BI and CRM integration project
Each organization has a different set of challenges and customized systems. However, there are some typical overarching objectives for a BI and CRM integration project that can be categorized as follows:
Collecting and consolidating data:
Keeping everyone focused on the tasks at hand and avoiding data collection overload.
• Missing data: Storing data in a central location for marketing, sales and customer service. By integrating BI and CRM, the right information can be captured and added to the central repository.
• Duplicate data: This is a common challenge with CRM applications. Many organizations consider integrating BI tools with CRM tools to reduce duplication. Which is not…
Overcoming BI and CRM integration challenges
Companies see the greatest benefit from integrating BI tools with their CRM system when they create dashboards to display and analyze information for finance and HR, partner relations, customer service, executives, sales, and marketing. Since each company has significantly different needs when it comes to integrating BI tools with a CRM system, there is no turnkey solution or commercial, off-the-shelf software that can be used as a plug-and-play component for integration.Therefore, it's all about employing a methodology that will ensure a "rapid" trip to the endgame: creating dashboards.
We call it a “RAPID" methodology. The RAPID acronym breaks down as follows:
The RAPID methodology integrates speed, people, technology, and processes with a focus on critical business issues. In some circumstances, it has accomplished in days what might otherwise have taken months to complete. Following the methodology allows companies to build a working prototype in as little as a week or 10 days, with about 80% accuracy.
The RAPID methodology breaks down as follows:
• Goals and needs -- and then determine the specific objectives for the BI-CRM integration initiative. There is no stock set of objectives because each enterprise has different needs across a variety of industries.
• Business processes -- to understand how the data is coming in, and from where.
• Which systems are used to generate reports -- and the compatibility of these systems?
Existing examples of reports, measurements, and tools that are used to run the business. This helps guard against data duplication, identify opportunities for growth, and streamline data gathering.
• Metrics used to measure success. Without properly focused and balanced performance measures, companies won't see the impact of processes and functional performance.
• Business processes – and documents them.
To set priorities,development effort and project timelines.
• To take inventory of resources. Is there enough experience to handle the implementation in house? Or will you hire a third-party consultancy to help with the process?
• To determine schedules, the approach and effort needed to bring the initiative to fruition.
• Tools and pre-determined processes.
• Timelines and budget.
• Goals and plans to help communication thrive across the organization.
• Dashboards and the reporting functions.
• Schedules and procedures.
• The best method after trial run-throughs.
• A training program for staff, featuring the new form and method of measurement.
• A feedback mechanism so that small changes can be made moving forward in real time.
It is important to deliver prototypes along the way. Prototypes are valuable to end users, since they provide flexibility to request changes, which helps ensure that the BI tool will meet user needs. This process dramatically increases end-user adoption, which ultimately determines the success of many CRM & BI implementations.
The methodology is built on the understanding that an all-at-once comprehensive approach is detrimental to success, because of today's complex business environment. For example, a company may spend a year building a data warehouse, but when the time comes to utilize the tool, the data and business needs have changed. Through BI-CRM integration using the RAPID methodology, the company can have the flexibility to transmit comprehensive sales information globally, in about a day.
Deploying a RAPID or any successful methodology allows for the entire BI-CRM integration process to occur in a timely manner, while allowing flexibility to fine-tune the systems as business needs change. One of the biggest challenges for some companies is making the best use of data. By integrating the CRM system with BI tools, companies can make great strides with critical business intelligence data. Integration allows companies to collaborate and make decisions quickly, based on real-time information and metrics. An effective BI-CRM integration truly has become a change agent for many companies.
Inception (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) , Decision Points ,Business Intelligence Competency Centers: A Team Approach to Maximizing Competitive Advantage (Wiley and SAS Business Series)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
CRM integration is a major challenge for organizations of all sizes and when it comes to SaaS CRM Integration it has its own merits and challenges. The strategy you choose for integrating SaaS CRM with other enterprise applications will depend on how advanced your SaaS deployment is. For large organizations running SaaS CRM, integration with ERP and accounting systems will probably be a priority. However, smaller SaaS CRM deployments -- say, for 15 to 25 seats -- might consider mashups as a simple way of integrating.
Integrating SaaS CRM and ERP at a small or medium-sized business
Multiple options have emerged in recent years for companies seeking to integrate their on-demand CRM applications with their ERP system, but the decision still requires careful consideration, particularly with business processes.
CRM delivered via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is not for every organization. Many of the SaaS CRM deployments to date have been led by non-technical people more interested in simplifying a particular function, like selling, than enabling complex integration with back-end systems. Outside of a small number of large deals that vendors like Salesforce.com are signing; the median SaaS CRM deployments are only 25 to 50 seats per client.[In these cases] it is not so much a technical challenge as a managerial and organizational kind of challenge. These are typically set up by a sales manager or procurement manager who does not feel he is being supported by IT. They are not so concerned with making the back-room systems more efficient in the long term, as they are with driving higher sales this quarter.
What is a mashup?
A mashup is a Web page or application that merges complementary information from more than one source to create a single integrated tool. Many developers are tapping into APIs to create new innovative applications on their websites. Features in some SaaS products allow customers and developers to combine various data sources – from their SaaS vendor and third-party integrators -- to create mashups. Mashups are often created by using a development approach called Ajax. Mashups are part of an ongoing shift toward Web 2.0, a more interactive use of the Internet with more user-defined content and services.
Mashups make sense for smaller projects
When the top priority is improving the productivity of one team, like sales, mashups make a lot of sense as a lightweight SaaS integration technique. Where traditional integration techniques focus on moving data between back-end applications in real time, mashups focus more on the view presented to the employee. Consequently, mashups can be smaller and easier to write than traditional integration techniques.
Salesforce.com has a directory of mashups at Appexchange.com that can combine data with Internet services like Hoovers for accounting, Google Maps or internal systems. For example, an internal mashup could show a salesperson the last five invoices from the ERP system when he clicks on a customer's name. Rather than being stored in Salesforce.com, the invoices would be pulled out of the ERP database on the fly.For example, mashups such as Cast Iron for ERP Applications, Scribe Integration for ERP, and AsapIQ Integration Appliance all provide a framework and application programming interfaces (APIs) for integrating Salesforce.com with the major ERP applications a company might be running in-house.
When an organization is more interested in improving workflow or doing heavy analyses, however, it needs to consider more traditional data integration techniques. Enterprise systems tend to have a lot more complexity than simple mapping applications.
SaaS CRM and ERP integration for large organizations
Mashups are not robust enough for larger organizations, which instead rely on APIs.As SaaS CRM matures, IT managers will take a more active role in deployments and bring integration considerations to the table. The biggest challenge will lie in coordinating and translating the functional requirements among the business users, the SaaS provider and the technical team responsible for the integration. The integration issues are going to be quite substantial. Managing services coming from an external provider and tying those into the [existing] applications is not as straightforward as most people think."
Where to start with back-end integration
A common mistake companies make is focusing too much on what technique or tools will be used for integration. A lot of these projects don't succeed because people spend too much time focusing on technically connecting two systems together, rather than looking at the business processes they want to enable. "If employees don't see the data they need, they simply won't use the system. Companies should start by looking at automating business processes that touch multiple systems -- for example, quote to cash.
SaaS CRM and ERP integration options
Once an organization has analyzed the systems that will be touched by the integration process, it can start looking at the connectivity options. Depending on the SaaS provider, examples of options include:
• Writing its own connector.
• Using a pre-built connector from the SaaS provider.
• Buying a connector application or appliance from a third party.
• Using an SaaS connector.
• The appropriate option is determined by the complexity level of the business process flow to be integrated. For something as simple as synchronizing CRM with a customer master database, it can be easy to write a connector. But for something more sophisticated, like automating a business process that crosses multiple systems, organizations might want to consider a middleware appliance.
Writing connectors might be the only option if the organization maintains a lot of custom-built applications, but it can be costly in terms of employee labor. Take for example a company implemented SF ,Every time they added a new object in Salesforce.com, company had to pay a consulting company $250 per hour to connect the new object into their ERP system. They ultimately bought a data integration package that allowed them to make these changes in-house, drastically reducing the amount of time and money required to add new features to the CRM system.
On the other hand, better integration may be able to save the organization time and money, and reduce staffing requirements."If I am a sales guy and I want to close a deal with a [customer or prospect], I might need to see from the accounting system if the client's account is on hold. The only way to do that would be by getting a fresh update from the accounting system. When I close a sale, I want that to automatically kick off a process in the accounting or ERP system to fulfill the order."
The only integration constant is change
One of the biggest concerns about tightly integrated systems is that, over time, changes in one set of applications can break the connection to the other pieces."A lot of the SaaS vendors are so new that their APIs are not clearly defined, and so there are not a lot of connectors to them. Older SaaS providers like Salesforce.com have had time to attract a lot of industry support. But even when an established vendor upgrades its SaaS application, the change can sometimes break the connection to other enterprise apps.The leap to SaaS CRM does not have to be tricky or complicated. It all depends on the goals of the organization. If the main objective is a quick fix to get the sales department excited and better organized, many of these benefits can be achieved with a simple installation using mashups to integrate into ERP on the fly.
On the other hand, if the long-term plan is to improve the efficiency of the entire organization, it makes sense to start sooner, rather than later, in analyzing all of the pieces that go into the business process. From there, an organization can start to map out the technological approach it will use to tie these processes together more effectively, preferably with integration software or services provided by the SaaS vendor or third parties that are in the business of keeping up with revisions to your enterprise applications.
Monday, December 20, 2010
If you've implemented a CRM application or trained to use one, you've undoubtedly noticed that there are an awful lot of features that you never touch. Some just aren't useful for your circumstances or for your particular vertical industry segment; some are overkill; some are just attempts by your vendor to anticipate a need that never materializes. However, in that bundle of idle functionalities, there may be a few items that you've sped past in the rush to adoption that could actually help you get more value from your CRM investment. Doing things a certain way because you've always done them that way is not a recipe for success, and that goes for how you use your CRM application. Your needs change, and your employees' work patterns change -- and as a result, a regular review of the data fields could be an extremely valuable exercise.
What that exercise reveals will differ from business to business, of course, but some examples should jog your imagination about critical data points that you may be disregarding. For example, "rarely does marketing spend enough time capturing all the data points associated with their campaigns in their CRM -- like original response date, number of responses and number of download requests -- or capture useful profile data on the prospect or firm.
This data when tracked not only by Web managers but in the CRM, provides important insights on the genesis of the prospect, and measures his profile value (lead score) against the company's ideal customer/prospect profile . When missed or ignored, marketers cannot establish a seamless chain or ROI value to their work or efforts, and sales -- both management and frontline staff -- can't know for certain how prospects were created or what their original motivations were. Another routine data omission is the lead role. When you convert a lead to a contact, that's when to assign a role, but way too many organizations look at that field and say, 'who cares?'. "They should care! If you don't know what that contact's role is politically in the deal -- a project leader, someone to overcome, a champion -- you really can't do a coherent pipeline analysis.
Astonishingly, less than 20 percent of the CRM users record lead roles. Apparently, it takes too long to spend a second and a half clicking a role from a pull-down menu..And there's the rub: Instead of seeing CRM as a constantly evolving discipline, too many companies and users see it as a set-and-forget tool. Once it's running, and once managers are happy with the reports it generates, people stop thinking about it. The thought may be "we've successfully implemented CRM." What the thought should be is "we've successfully implemented CRM -- for now."
I always refer "Siebell" as CRM universe for the reason it has got enormous number of functionalities and good number of fields to capture the micro information about each and every entity (prospect, customer, SR etc..). Normally every System Integrator try to limit the scope of the project enabling only the basic functionality that is required for the customer, In a way its correct but the company start to believe there is no scope for any further expansion or they believe they got a full functional crm and only way forward is upgrade. This is a illusion which almost 95% of the company fall prey. The right approach is to look for the right functionalities for expansion post go live and involve business users to determine to such small value adds and in long run such inclusion will have a great payoff and ROI.
The frequent failure to seize on the potential of CRM goes back to the mistaken belief that it's a technology. It's really a discipline and philosophy enabled by technology -- and if you focus only on the technology, you will be rudderless in your approach to understanding your customers. No user employs every feature in a CRM system -- but smart users conduct a periodic review to make sure they aren't forgetting features that could help them maximize sales and build customer loyalty. And isn't that the reason you have a CRM system in the first place?
Sunday, December 19, 2010
As cloud computing soars in popularity, Oracle seems to have placed a stake in the ground of the cloud computing market with the unveiling of its Exalogic Elastic Cloud line of machines. Available in quarter-, half- and full-rack flavors, Oracle Exalogic is a stack of application servers that offers incremental enhancements to the load balancing, performance and security of Java-based applications. But does it fit the generally accepted definition of cloud computing, and does that matter?
Vendor strategies for cloud computing have evolved over the past few years. Most notable has been Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. EC2 has changed the economics of computing by allowing customers to pay only for the capacity that is used and by providing an ever-increasing variety of technology options more recently, the debate over what cloud computing is has heated up as industry titans Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff trade jabs. Specifically, Ellison has criticized the multitenant model of Salesforce.com as lacking an adequate security model. Benioff has responded that Exalogic is not provisional, efficient or democratic enough to be considered cloud computing. High-profile CEO spats aside, it's important to analyze each vendor's offerings as standalone products and services to understand how they may benefit your organization.
To that end, the full Exalogic machine is a 42U rack of servers, including 360 Intel cores, interconnected by InfiniBand, and preconfigured with WebLogic Suite and other trimmings. Oracle suggests that this much technology will enable enterprises to consolidate tens, hundreds, or even thousands of disparate mission-critical applications. Small to medium-sized business will likely find the quarter- and half-rack models more palatable, with 96 and 192 cores, respectively. Up to eight Exalogic machines can be connected to satisfy the largest computing appetites.
Back to the cloud debate, Exalogic offers elasticity in that application workloads can be balanced across shared resources factory-engineered to work together. IT organizations that are standardized on Oracle software may benefit from factory-based integration of complex technologies that previously required valuable staff time or expensive consulting to implement. Conversely, data centers using IBM PowerVM or VMware may wonder how Exalogic is any different or better.
What may ultimately jeopardize Exalogic's place in the cloud discussion, however, is that Oracle has not yet offered a licensing model that provides the flexibility to pay only for the level of resources in use. This contractual flexibility is a trademark of the traditional cloud computing model. It follows that from a total cost of ownership perspective, software licensing presents a sizable consideration, since Exalogic requires a WebLogic Suite Processor for every two Intel cores. At $45,000 per Processor, WebLogic Suite will spin the meter into millions of net license and support dollars. As with Oracle's Exadata database machines, software is sold separately and likely to garner the best discounting via an unlimited license agreement.
The value equation that Exalogic can bring to your organization's IT needs depends on many factors. Primarily, Exalogic may serve well as the future-state home for existing applications that currently reside on disparate, underutilized, end-of-life systems. Decades of application growth, integration and server sprawl have led to high operational costs that products such as Exalogic promise to optimize, with resulting cost savings.
Another major consideration with regards to Exalogic's value is Oracle's overall strategy, within which Exalogic is a key component. With its acquisition of Sun, Oracle has joined the ranks of vendors like IBM and Teradata by offering solutions that include preconfigured hardware, software, management tools and support. Standing up an Exadata database machine next to Exalogic takes this concept to another level by giving Oracle databases and application servers direct access to each other via ultra high-speed networking and specialized software features.
All of this begs the question of where the industry is headed, especially as vendors merge and behemoths such as Oracle, Hewlett Packard Co. and IBM are challenged by newly pioneered computing models from Amazon, Google and Salesforce.com. For the time being, Oracle appears to be focused on enabling its customers to build private clouds by offering "cloud in a box" solutions. Oracle's participation in public cloud computing is more likely to be demonstrated in its contractual relationships with Amazon, Salesforce.com and other providers that offer Oracle's Software as a Service. In which case, Oracle gets the best of both worlds by licensing its software and selling its hardware to nontraditional pay-as-you-go providers.
The good news for customers is that the options are only increasing and improving, and the definition of cloud matters less than the flexibility customers now have to shift applications workloads around based on security, performance, growth and comfort level.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I am just taking off from routine blog on IT and to look at a role model and IT Avatar of the new century “Mr. Larry Ellison and his Brain Child “Oracle”. We have very few who made a great difference and one of them is Larry Ellison of Oracle. Lawrence Joseph Ellison (born August 17, 1944) is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, a major application software & hardware company (Hardware & Software Complete).Behind every success there is a great determination and Interesting success recipe & secrets.
Ellison was born in New York City to Florence Spellman, a 19-year-old Jewish mother. At his mother's request, he was given to his mother's aunt and uncle in Chicago to raise. Lillian Spellman Ellison and Louis Ellison adopted him when he was nine months old. Ellison did not learn the name of his mother or meet her until he was 48;
The Ellison home was a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, populated mostly with lower middle class Jews. Ellison remembers his adoptive mother as warm and loving, in contrast to his austere, unsupportive, and often distant adoptive father, a Russian Jew from the Crimea who adopted the name Ellison to honor his point of entry into the USA, Ellis Island, as well as to conceal his Jewish ancestry. Louis was a modest government employee who had made a small fortune in Chicago real estate, only to lose it during the Great Depression.
Larry was a bright but inattentive student. He left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the end of his second year, after not taking his final exams because his adoptive mother had just died. After spending a summer in Northern California where he lived with his friend Chuck Weiss, he attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he first encountered computer programming. At 20 years of age, he moved to northern California permanently.
Larry Ellison has been married four times. His first three marriages ended in divorce. He was married to Adda Quinn, between 1967 and 1974. He was married to Mary Wheeler between 1977 and 1978. From 1983 to 1986, he was married to Barbara Boothe, with whom he had two children, a son and a daughter. On 18 December 2003, Ellison married Melanie Craft, a romance novelist and Oberlin grad, at his Woodside estate. His friend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, was the official photographer.
During the 1970s, Ellison worked for Ampex Corporation. One of his projects was a database for the CIA, which he named "Oracle," the abstract idea which was dismissed by a University of Chicago professor.
Ellison was inspired by the paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems named "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks." He founded Oracle in 1977, putting up a mere $2000 of his own money, under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). In 1979, the company was renamed Relational Software Inc., later renamed Oracle after the flagship product Oracle database. He had heard about the IBM System R database, also based on Codd's theories, and wanted Oracle to be compatible with it, but IBM made this impossible by refusing to share System R's code. The initial release of Oracle was Oracle 2; there was no Oracle 1. The release number was intended to imply that all of the bugs had been worked out of an earlier version.
In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% (about 400 people) of its work force because of a mismatch between cash and revenues. This crisis, which almost resulted in Oracle's bankruptcy, came about because of Oracle's "up-front" marketing strategy, in which sales people urged potential customers to buy the largest possible amount of software all at once. The sales people then booked the value of future license sales in the current quarter, thereby increasing their bonuses. This became a problem when the future sales subsequently failed to materialize. Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings twice, and also to settle out of court class action lawsuits arising from its having over Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on UNIX and Windows operating systems. This left the door open for Sybase, Oracle, and Informix (and eventually Microsoft) to dominate mid-range and microcomputers.
Around this time, Oracle fell behind technically to Sybase. In 1990-1993, Sybase was the fastest growing database company and the database industry's darling vendor, but soon fell victim to its merger mania. Sybase's 1993 merger with PowerSoft resulted in a loss of focus on its core database technology. In 1993, Sybase sold the rights to its database software running under the Windows operating system to Microsoft Corporation, which now markets it under the name "SQL Server."
In 1994, Informix Software overtook Sybase and became Oracle's most important rival. The intense war between Informix CEO Phil White and Ellison was front page Silicon Valley news for three years. Ultimately, Oracle defeated Informix in 1997. In the same year, Ellison was made a director of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs came back to the company. Ellison resigned in 2002, saying that he did not have the time to attend necessary formal board meetings. In November of 2005, a book detailing the war between Oracle and Informix was published. "The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White" provides a detailed chronology of the battle of Informix against Oracle, and how Informix Software's CEO Phil White landed in jail because of his obsession to overtake Ellison.
Once Informix and Sybase were defeated, Oracle enjoyed years of industry dominance until the rise of Microsoft's SQL Server in the late 90s and IBM's acquisition of Informix Software in 2001 to complement their DB2 database. Today Oracle's main competition for new database licenses on UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems is with IBM's DB2, the open source database MySQL, and with Microsoft SQL Server (which only runs on Windows). IBM's DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market.
In 2005, Oracle paid Ellison a $975,000 salary, a $6,500,000 bonus, and other compensation of $955,100. Forbes listed Ellison's 2005 net worth as $18.4 billion, making him one of the richest people in America, and the ninth richest man in the world. For a short period in 2000, Ellison was the richest man in the world. In 2006, Forbes ranked Ellison as the richest Californian. In interviews, Ellison notes that his actual wealth — money that he is realistically free to spend — is more like $2 billion, and that if he tried to sell all of his Oracle stock, its price would fall to zero. Ellison used to own large stakes in both Salesforce.com and NetSuite.
Being one of the world's wealthiest persons, Ellison is known for his extravagant lifestyle. Ellison is the second largest financier of BMW Oracle Racing, which unsuccessfully competed to be selected as the challenger for the 2007 America's Cup on behalf of the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. BMW Oracle Racing was the Challenger of Record for the 2007 America's Cup in Valencia, Spain until eliminated from the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger selection series in the semi-finals. Oracle Corporation does not provide any financial support to BMW Oracle Racing but grants permission for use of its logo and branding.
Oracle Racing also participated in the challenger selection series for the 2003 America's Cup but was defeated in the final of the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup.Ellison won the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in his yacht "Sayonara". A storm that broke out during the race cost 6 sailors (none from the Sayonara) their lives, an experience that led Ellison to swear off personal participation in ocean racing.
Ellison owns the fifth largest yacht in the world named "Rising Sun" which reportedly cost over US$200 million to build. Rising Sun is 452.75ft (138 m) long.Ellison owns many exotic cars, including a McLaren F1, Bentley Flying Spur, Bentley Continental GT, and several Acura NSX, which is his favorite daily driver.
Ellison is a certificated pilot and has owned several unusual aircraft, including fighter jets. Ellison has been cited several times by the City of San Jose for violating its limits on late night takeoffs and landings from San Jose Mineta International Airport by planes weighing more than 75 000 pounds (34 019 kg). San Jose granted him a personal waiver from these regulations in 2001.
Really Rags to Riches storyline but this is not the end and Oracle has long journey before it reaches the peak and stay as undisputed leader in IT Space. Let see.
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