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The Big Questions

Page history last edited by Guido Oswald 15 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to kick off the "Big Questions" page that contains a set of questions, some of which will hopefully turn into discussions, that would lead us to better definition of the vision for the next gen CRM (Dan Itkis)


  1. (DI) Should CRM be limited by Sales, Marketing and Support functions or will it merge with the ERP system?

(Axel Schultze) I believe that in the next 2 years we will put CRM/ERP... into the category "Bureau Software" Software that was written for a specific user or functionality. To help sales and marketing related people to better deal with customers - all constituencies INCLUDING THE CUSTOMER HIMSELF should be part of the solution. And if so is "management" the right term? Isn't it more a customer interaction model (CIM)? I vote neither CRM nor the morphing with ERP is the way to go into the CRM 2.0 future but a networking and interaction approach.

(Ginger Conlon) Many companies talk about end-to-end customer processes, which include both front- and back-end processes. I believe that executives must think that way when implementing systems and processes (e.g. if I improve my sales, can shipping keep up). But I think that integration will be the glue for a long time to come because although these systems need to "talk," there are many detailed functionalities in each area that may be best left to hone in on their key processes.

(Andrew Boyd) I believe that vendor consolidation will continue to homogenize the "transactional" CRM feature set and ultimately result in tighter back office integration. However, I think that next wave of CRM (2.0) will be less concerned with the transactional elements of the customer relationship. This stuff has become a functional imperative of the organization. Real competitive advantage is going to come from managing the non-linear and messy processes. For that we'll see the adoption of a new set of tools that "natively" collaborative in nature. It is doubtful that these will be rolled into the ERP system any time soon (if ever).


(Chuck Schaeffer) Managing and automating enterprise-wide business processes are often key in achieving or advancing CRM business strategies. Sales history, inventory returns, customer credit, product promotions, item availability, shipping costs, sales commission payments and a plethora of other customer-relevant information typically associated with back-office ERP systems are necessary for many customer facing knowledge workers. CRM and ERP applications will eventually merge to become enterprise-wide business software applications with seamless front and back office integration and without a limited business function delineation or other debarkation point.

(Paul Greenberg) CRM has evolved over the past four years or so to a point that it represents a customer strategy that permeates an entire enterprise value chain. For example, its pretty clear that what warehouses products sit in and what inventory is available will affect the timeliness of the delivery of an order to a customer - which affects how the customer sees the company and the quality of that customer's experience.  It is of consequence to a CRM team to know how well the supply chain is working or whether or not the ERP systems are working well enough to not cripple the company's operational capabilities which has an impact on a customer. Ad infinitum. What this means all in all is that how to deal with the enterprise value chain extended to the customer and thus integrated with the customer's "personal value chain" will be the knotty problem that CRM will have to solve over the immediate next period.

(Guido Oswald) The need to integrate various data silos within a corpoarte is nothing new and not limited to CRM.

     SOA might be a solution to detach the business processes from the different silos and make information available everywhere within the company. This will enhance flexibility without the need to 'merge' CRM and ERP.

     Having a 360 degree view of the customer is crucial for any CRM strategy - CRM 2.0 will expand this view to the outside (external data from the Web 2.0).





  1.  (DI) Is it going to go the way of vertical integration with comprehensive solutions responding to highly segmented industry needs or will it go sideways with CRM becoming the database with a middleware layers and bunch of other companies (contributors) adding the logic? Maybe both?

(Axel Schultze) I trust it will go "simplicity is king". Parts of CIM may be even seen as a Google gadget. We need to keep in mind that about 97% of ALL registered US businesses use spreadsheets to track their customers. Only 3% use CRM - because it is too complex, too expensive.

Update Jan. 2009 in accordance to publicly available lists we have roughly 3 Million out of 15 Million registered businesses with more than 10 employees who (in theory) would benefit from a CRM system. Taking Oracle-Siebel, SFDC, MS, SAP we probablt have 50,000 installations in the US. That is roughly 1.6% - declining because new and emerging companies are less likely to install CRM then older companies. I did a research in a different context (Social Media) but realized that Social Media tools are much prefered over CRM tools.



(Guido Oswald) Even if only 3% are using a CRM Tool, 100% probably have a CRM Strategy in some way. We shouldn't limit CRM 2.0 to the use of tools.



Maybe Excel Sheets are a viable way of dealing with customers for some businesses, even in a Web 2.0 world...

I think the adoption of CRM 2.0 is not necessarily connected to a platform or software - it is more a cultural change within an organization that needs to happen.



  1. Have we reached the “dominant design” stage in the CRM? What would the dominant design look like?

(Axel Schultze) With 3% market coverage (if at all) we are light years away from a dominant design stage. We are today where Rudalph Diesel was before Henry Ford invented the conveyor belt.

  1. Integration with PIM systems (personal information managers) seems to be key for adoption. Will CRM replace existing PIMs (read Microsoft Outlook) or will the interfaces become standardized enough to plug in easily?

(Axel Schultze) Should that be on the "Big Question List"?

(Ginger Conlon) this may be a key for adoption on the sales side. I've certainly heard from vendors that it's helping among their customers. on the internal customer service side its not as relevant (field service is a different animal). 

(AS) Will the networked, collaborating and 'always on' world push CRM to the side in a way that people use entirely different and very personal tools to track their sales and simply 'allow' company management to keep track on progress and reports? Will new online tools and services replace CRM with networked nodes of contact and progress tracker and company independent hubs coordinate the customer interaction model in a way that customers, alliances, partners, VARs, dealers, brokers, consultants and others jointly work on the best of bread solution for a customer? **



  1. In a world where the value is in the co-created experience and co-created products/services; who “owns” the resulting value?

(Guido Oswald)

Isn't CRM 2.0 answering this question per definition (although the definition is being dicsussed here...)?

I think we have to get rid of the "ownership" thinking and get used to the fact that there will not be a single owner of products and services in the future and companies and customers will collaborate on the design, implementation and evolution of them.

Of course there will not be everything shared and there will be products (probably also successful ones) that are completely owned by someone - patents will still protect unique ideas from being copied by everyone. But the number of alternatives are steadily increasing and the buying decisions will be influenced by the crowd which identifies with products that are not 'owned' by someone.

So CRM 2.0 is all about getting a competitive advantage by sharing information and collaborating on products and services (i.e. NOT owning them).

It is about creating loyal customers and advocates...





Comments (6)

christopher carfi said

at 4:04 pm on Jan 12, 2007

i'm not familiar with the term "dominant design." what does it refer to? thx!

Paul Greenberg said

at 7:43 am on Jan 13, 2007

A FAQ-type note. Edits are acceptable by other than the originator of the post. The versions are kept. If something isn't necessarily a big question, the contributor who thinks otherwise can strike it and the originator can put it back and so on... A little edgy battle (or not) is okay. We're all aimed toward the same end.

Dan Itkis said

at 3:15 pm on Jan 15, 2007

Fixed formatting on the page.
From logistical standpoint, I suggest that each page has an "owner" who's responsible for integrity of the page as well as some basic judgement calls. Otherwise I think it can get pretty messy.

Dan Itkis said

at 3:17 pm on Jan 15, 2007

Christopher, the term "dominant design" refers to a design prior to which there's a high degree of differentiation and after which, the product differentiation is low and competition switches into the volume/cost/service realm. Think VCRs, DVDs, in software I'd say that spreadsheets and text editors fit that notion (although I'm sure I'll hear some comments to the contrary :)

Anonymous said

at 7:44 pm on Feb 11, 2007

Does CRM have to change? Yes. Because the nature of the business problem has changed.

The transactional cost of a consumer's product research has fallen to almost zero - as has the cost of service and product delivery. A consumer's change cost is likewise almost zero - so if one vendor or service provider fails to deliver, consumers, partners, and employees have limited cost of finding another enterprise.

The transformative disruption in the economic model for product delivery and acquisition means that the customer relationship with the enterprise is forever altered. The good news - for economists - is that the markets function with more perfect information.

Also consider that not only has the cost of customer communication and product acquistion fallen to almost zero, but business models for delivery of goods and services have dramatically changed as well. This means that tradtional definitions of CRM have to evolve or they will be increasingly out of step with business processes that are evolving to reflect the new customer relationship.

But that is usually how it goes - the world changes and then we figure out how to define what just happened.

Christy Shows said

at 7:54 pm on May 29, 2007

The question of networked nodes is an interesting thought to ponder. I think it ties back to the question of the participation of the customer. From a service provider's perspective, the customer must be involved throughout the project management, accounting, resource management, etc. However, looking at the sales and marketing services, is the customer prepared to become so invested in the CRM process, actively participating in networked nodes that some level of assumed or perceived obligation is developed? What happens to the culture of customers which still approach the buying or contracting experience with a stand-offish, competitive environment? Will customers attempt to build a Best of Breed without the competitive value? Or try to build Best of Breed between competitors - eventually picking one over the other? Am I misunderstanding the original intent of the post? Thoughts?

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