Focus on 'core' CRM

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B-to-b marketers looking to get the most bang for their CRM buck would do well to invest in core selling, order-taking and customer service platforms, according to a new study from Forrester Research. The Forrester “TechRadar” evaluation looked at 19 separate types of CRM platforms and evaluated their readiness for deployment and value to marketers. “If you're a marketer, and you've got a dollar to spend, and you're trying to decide between investing in Twitter or fixing your order system, I'd say get your order system in place first,”said Forrester analyst and report author William Band. Band calls marketing and sales systems the “income locomotive” at most companies, a major step forward from the days when those systems were seen as nice to have at best and a hindrance to a sales force at worst. “The net of it all was that core business processes of sales, ordering and service were all evaluated by users as very critical [software] solutions that work well and are relatively easy to implement,” Band said. “Therefore, if you want to place your dollars in a less risky area, those are the core ones,” Band said, adding: “Sales and service were not a surprise, but order management and order management with an e-commerce front-end surprised us by popping up so high.” On the other hand, newer applications in the social computing area, such as community platforms or enterprise feedback management platforms, have definitely moved into the customer relationship management (CRM) mainstream. “It's important to experiment with these newer solutions, however, even if we're not exactly sure how the business value will play out,” Band said. Overall, Forrester anticipates that organizations worldwide will spend about $12.3 billion this year on traditional CRM applications, including marketing, sales, customer support, and customer data analytics and management. That figure almost doubles to $23.6 billion if related or emerging applications are taken into account, including product lifecycle management, call centers, e-commerce, supply chain and social computing. It was this extended CRM applications “ecosystem” that Forrester considered in its report, Band said (see sidebar). In addition to evaluating marketing technology platforms, Forrester and partner CustomerThink earlier this year surveyed 286 companies (65% b-to-b) using or considering buying CRM solutions. Despite the availability of software platforms to help the marketing and customer service processes, 37% of the respondents to the online survey reported their marketing capabilities were poor. Moreover, 36% rated their customer analytics as poor and 35% rated their customer analytics practices as poor. M
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