What’s the biggest challenge facing CRM implementations today? Could it be legacy or Web-services integration? Management buy-in? Perhaps vertical-market expertise? The answer depends on who you ask.
Vertical Growth and Realistic Visions Ahead
According to a recent Gartner report, the CRM market may finally emerge from its lengthy, failure-prompted slump. The report predicts significant growth in vertical markets, a rise in business process automation functionality, and an increase in in-house CRM application development.
“Clients are now frustrated that many of the leading applications on the market are not adequate for their needs,” explains authors Scott Nelson and Claudio Marcus, “not because they lack functionality, but because they lack the ability to fit into the industry vertical model.”
Nelson and Marcus also believe that by 2004, CRM failure rates will drop below the threshold of 50 percent. “Enterprises have learned why CRM implementations fail and how to avoid future failures,” they explain. “They’ve studied the best (and worst) practices, read the case studies, crafted their return-on-investment (ROI) models and conducted needs assessments before spending significantly on CRM solutions. This knowledge, coupled with increasing self-awareness of the need to make their operations more customer-centric, will position enterprises in 2003 to look at CRM more realistically.”
Show Me the UI… And How to Use It
Meanwhile, when several IT executives and decision-makers gathered to discuss future CRM challenges and opportunities in a recent Sage Research roundtable, they didn’t have vertical markets or business process automation on their minds. They were most concerned about getting end users up and running on their systems as quickly and effectively as possible. In this regard, they all identified end-user training as a key area requiring vendor attention.
For many participants, these end-user training and integration issues hinder the prospects for broad, cross-functional CRM implementations. “They brought up several needs in that area,” explains Chris Neal, a research director at Sage Research, “including Web-based training, customized training for different user groups, such as sales vs. service, and more experienced tech support people.” The roundtable findings validate a common but unglamorous truth about CRM implementations: users will ultimately determine their success or failure.