Almost ten years ago, the main players in the ERP market (Oracle,JD Edwards and SAP) found themselves under attack from a number young and dynamic companies that have introduced a new wave applications like online procurement, online market places and believe it or not customer relationship management, areas where traditional ERP vendors were not particularly strong.
With streamlined processes, friendly user interfaces and energetic sales tactics, companies like Ariba, CommerceOne, i2 and Siebel did capture the imagination of business and IT professionals alike. Many CIOs were forced by their business users (or just felt it was cool) to adopt a best-of-breed business applications strategy (or let us just call it approach). It was not so uncommon during the dot com era to hear CIOs talking about projects to integrate Oracle Financials, with Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft HR and Ariba procurement.
What made it even worse, is that many major consulting and integration firms used PowerPoint to demonstrate their capabilities in that space. After all it takes only a few minutes to create an integrated IT architecture on slides using PowerPoint. Of course sending you an army of consultants armed with glue guns followed by a fat bill is never such a bad idea!
ERP vendors who could not compete on a feature by feature basis with the new comers responded first by adding the word ‘suite’ to their own product names while referring to the new comers as ‘point solutions’ vendors, secondly by campaigning about the benefits of pre integrated software and thirdly by enhancing the functionality of those ‘suites’ .
The plan worked! A large percentage of those major integration projects failed, most of the point solution vendors are no longerpart of main stream IT today and with time I guess most CIOs have accepted the fact that you cannot run a business on many bits and pieces of applications that were not designed to work together In the mean time consulting firms found it difficult to achieve on the ground what they created in PowerPoint, and traditional ERP vendors prevailed after enhancing their products.
Over time, however, a business outgrows the functionality originally selected and implemented and is now forced to make a decision of whether it wants to keep its existing software and add a bolt-on solution to what it already has or start over and go with a broader suite. For example existing ERP customers are now looking at new areas like business intelligence, transportation management and performance management, area where their ERP vendors may or maynot have a leadership position and so customers find themselves debating the suite versus best of breed again.
Some of us watched the same story repeat in the middleware space, and once again it was a happy ending for the suite proponents. Once again, middleware customers are now looking at new areas like social networking in the enterprise and are wondering whether to settle for whatever their vendor offers or bolt on a third party solution.
In conclusion, I guess it would be reasonable to say that a good integrated suite is in most cases the best place to start and that bolting on a specialized solution or two would work if your suite vendor is far behind the curve.
In 2003, IDC released the results of a study titled The Financial Impact of Business Analytics that evaluated the ROI of business analytics projects at 43 leading organizations in North America and Western Europe. Each of the resulting case studies was accompanied by in-depth ROI calculations, which showed, for the group as a whole, a median ROI of 112%. Notably, the median ROI for projects that IDC classified as incorporating predictive analytics was 145% versus 89% for those projects that did not.
A Gartner survey of 1500 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) published in 2008 shows that Business Intelligence (BI) ranked as the number one technology priority. I guess it is no surprise that the idea that businesses of all sizes should have real insight into their operations and their customers in order to be able to enhance their planning, forecasting, modeling and resourcing based on information that is cohesive, current, accurate, secure and accessible - is at the core of today's expanding BI market.
Yet, one can argue that the majority of enterprises large and small have not yet taken full advantage of the masses of data they have accumulated in their operational and ERP systems over the years. Granted, many organizations have deployed some sort of an operational BI environment for departmental business users to run simplistic queries and reports.
BI converts data into information, sales records into sales trends, financial reports into meaningful insights. Isn’t that what decision makers at all levels need? Hasn’t BI been the top priority for CIOs for many years? So what is stopping organizations from leveraging the data they have in order to provide decision makers with the ability to make timely and informed decisions?
Here are some of the reasons:
First assuming you know what you need, it is hard to choose your BI solution; the market is very fragmented, not only in terms of the number of vendors operating in this space, but also the types of technologies that occupy the broad spectrum that we refer to as BI. Some vendors promote pre packaged BI applications others want to sell you a consulting based approach to building your BI environment from scratch, some vendors talk about Enterprise Performance Management, other want to sell you a bunch of query tools. Even within the same vendor you will find competing forces. One SAP sales rep will try to convince you of the benefits of the SAP BW while another will focus on the newly acquired Business Objects solution set. An Oracle technology sales rep will probably want you to adopt the Sun Oracle Database Machine and build your own data warehouse while an Oracle applications sales rep will only talk about the Oracle Business Intelligence Applications. Although in many cases there can be more than one route to achieving your BI objectives, it is not always clear which route will be faster, more economical and more future proof.
Second assuming that you have selected the right technologies and consultants, BI is still very hard to implement not only because the implementation often requires a very high degree of interaction between business users, IT and the consulting firm but also because the project always requires heaving technical work in order to integrate the various data sources into one cohesive environment that acts as the single source of the truth for decision makers.
And third, the loss of project momentum after it goes live. If there is a universal truth in the world of BI, it is that a strong sponsor can make or break a program. Even though many BI projects start delivering incredible business value while they had a strong advocate in the executive ranks. Unfortunately, the majority of these programs see their contribution fall off dramatically if or when the champion moves on to other challenges. Other BI programs simply fail to maintain the levels of investments needed to keep the BI program alive, BI is not a project it is a program that literally has no end.
Scary as it is, you should not panic, many CIOs managed to get it right and are delivering increasingly great value, you know the pitfalls and you know that cutting corners does not work with BI, and finally On-Track Arabia can help you manage the program from start to end!
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I was recently shocked to hear from one of my clients that they were advised by Gartner to not stick to one vendor but rather go for ‘best of breed’ and then build integration between the various pieces of software. I hope I misunderstood because my client’s business is not very complicated so I wonder why Gartner would say such a thing while it is perfectly reasonable to expect any large scale ERP solution to cover the entire spectrum of this client’s global needs, from finance to CRM and from supply chain management to enterprise planning and budgeting.
But this is not a unique case, as I speak with customers large and small, I still find many who prefer to build fragmented systems and then pay to integrate them and struggle with enterprise wide planning, budgeting and consolidation.
Imagine the situation of a multinational which operates in 40 countries around the world deploying, maintaining and integrating ERP, CRM, business intelligence, content management on a country by country basis. What a mess, you can do the math, how many people would be needed to run this mishmash, many sites, and many pieces of software, add to that data and process integration. Obviously everyone in IT would be very busy just keeping this environment alive. Who will be working on the strategy to help arming business users with the right information in the right time to provide insight into the business and to support decision making? No one.
And then we wonder why there is such a pressure on IT to demonstrate value, demonstrate ROI or justify future investments. We act surprised when CEO surveys show that they are not getting value from IT.
It almost feels like IT measures itself by the number of tons of iron, the number of projects under management, and the number of people in the team rather than the organization’s ability to create an environment that supports decision making in the information age. The point that is missed by many IT executives is that the role of IT has supposedly evolved from automating transactions to providing information so that business users can make informed decisions. Well you can never deliver information if you are trying to maintain many systems. I can sympathize with those who inherited a messy environment but can’t understand those who invest in silos of information and invest again to integrate them. Maybe even ‘invest’ is not the right word here.
The troubling thing is that this virus also infects small and medium enterprises where I still see a tendency to bolt on bits and pieces in an unplanned fashion as needs arise then struggle with data duplication, lack of resources and the inability to deliver information.
Of course there are bright spots all around us, CIOs who went against the tide in order to build a cohesive software environment that manages transactions and delivers information across the enterprise. Those are not scared of being bold, of temporarily upsetting divisional and regional managers or of buying from a single vendor!
Let me leave you with one statement “centralize complexity – distribute information” think about it.
Most industries introduce new concepts every now and then in order to create interest and boost demand. For instance, over the years the auto industry introduced new ideas like turbo charger, fuel injection, ABS break and parking sensors. Each new innovation usually comes with a bit of hype but eventually many of them become part of the norm and the industry moves on to new innovations.
The IT industry is different in that not all of its fashionable ideas last for long before they simply disappear from the IT vocabulary. I guess you can say that the IT industry is closer to the fashion industry than it is to the auto industry in this regard. Some of us may still remember the ISO OSI communications model (that was meant to replace TCP/IP and never did), many would remember how client server was touted by each and every vendor as the solution to all our IT problems, where is client server now? More recently SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) became the buzzword yet many bloggers already started saying that SOA is dead. In all fairness SOA looked and still looks very credible when used in the right context, I think it will stay with us for some time although it might lose some of its glamour or get folded under some other fashionable name.
Well this time the new buzzword is cloud computing, if you Google it you will get some 20 million search hits! So what is cloud computing?
One definition is that it is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the internet where users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them. But what is more important to you and me is the definition of cloud services because we may potentially use them. IDC defined cloud services as “consumer and business products, services and solutions that are delivered and consumed in real time over the internet”.
OK enough with definitions, let us examine some of the types of applications and services that lend themselves to cloud computing. The most suitable applications to be delivered through the web are those that require minimal configuration, things like email, customer relationship management (CRM), and potentially enterprise resource planning (ERP).
This is especially important to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because for the first time they have the ability to use the most advanced applications without having to build expensive infrastructure (large computers, mass storage or disaster recovery sites) and employ an army of IT technical staff.
For example a small company deploys an email service for its employees but its email service is hosted by a software as a service (SaaS) provider. The service is provided on subscription basis, a monthly fee per user. It is subject to certain limitations like storage capacity per email account. The service is also bound by a service level agreement (SLA) where the service provider guarantees such things like speed, security, bandwidth, maximum downtime, software updates and help desk response time. That is a traditional SaaS service that many SMEs are already using.
Now let us see how this scenario changes in an ideal cloud computing world. The SaaS provider may host your email on one server, ten server or fifty server slices distributed over twenty servers located in several locations around the world; moreover the SaaS provider may change the distribution of those slices. They may allocate more processing power to your Dubai based organization in the morning at the expense of another customer who is based in Los Angeles and switch back at night. This allows the service provider to use its assets more efficiently potentially reducing his and your cost. If your need for processing power or storage capacity increases, the service provider can very easily and quickly provision or allocate them to you. Again you don’t need to know or worry about the location, type or technology used to provide those resources, you know that as your needs grow (or shrink) you pay for what you use. That is why cloud computing is said to be dynamically scalable and often virtualized.
So who knows cloud computing may not be one of those fashionable ideas that will die tomorrow! SMEs should consider cloud computing based SaaS offering because of the model’s inherent economics as well as its ability to provide such companies with access to world class applications that they would not normally be able to acquire, staff, run or afford. I would say you should start with email followed by CRM.
I know, you will say, what about information security or what about availability of those systems, how can I trust them. My answer is that any credible SaaS provider will offer better security and availability than your own small IT department. After all companies like Haagen-Dazs, Starbucks, Yamaha Corporation of America, E*TRADE FINANCIAL, AMD, Canon Marketing Japan, Cisco, Dell, Motorola, Allianz Insurance, CNN Networks, Dow Jones Newswires, Google, The Wall Street Journal, Symantec and Toyota Motor Europe are already using SaaS and you can find their success stories published on the internet. Surely they had similar concerns and definitely they managed to overcome their fear. You can too.
In part A of this series and at the risk of upsetting some great and many not so great marketers, I discussed a number of internal factors contributing to what I see as poor marketing performance of many organizations around the world. Today I want to look at the external factors driving the poor return of marketing:
All in all, it is now much harder to market anything, but I will be back soon to share with you ideas and solutions to help you revitalize your marketing, improve your returns, and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. In the mean time feel free to comment especially if you disagree with my views.
You know as much as I do that marketing in your organization is suffering from most if not all of these issues especially if you are in a business to business industry. The question you should ask yourself is whether you can afford this mediocrity in an economic downturn? Maybe it was OK during boom time but now you might want to think again.
I will cover the external factors affecting marketing in part B (coming soon), in the mean time I welcome your feedback!
Who is he? The CEO of the world’s largest enterprise, but just before taking office he was told that for security reasons he can’t bring his Blackberry with him! Well he fought and won, his security advisors had to find a way to accommodate his love for the Blackberry.
Yes you guessed it right; he is President Obama, practically the chief executive of the United States of America, the world’s largest enterprise. But let us scratch beneath the surface, does he really love his Blackberry device per se or what the device can do for him? I’d venture to say that it is not the device but what it enables him to do... talk, exchange text messages, send the receive email messages, and browse the web while on the road.
Did you ask yourself why? Why would such a busy executive want to be connected or reachable and hence be potentially interrupted? Surely he has a very busy schedule. After all we still see many corporate managers that prefer to hide behind closed office doors guarded by several personal assistants who patrol the area to stop ordinary people from bugging and interrupting the boss.
The answer is simple, he [President Obama] is a connected manager, he wants to be in touch and he wants his staff to be able to reach him on an ad hoc basis as situations arise. He recognizes that a great executive cannot only rely on scheduled meetings, beautified and/or politicized presentations and reports but must talk, connect and be in touch with his business around him.
Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart (which today employs some 2 million people) always made a point of asking every worker he met how things were going, what problems they saw and how their store could be better. He kept his home phone number listed in the directory, and it wasn’t unusual for employees with problems to phone him directly. If he was unable to sleep at night, he would bring boxes of donuts to the loading dock at the nearby Walmart distribution center and use the opportunity to chat with the workers. Hey if you are a big shot manager, ask yourself, how many times you took the risk of talking to the ‘foot soldiers’ in your company without the protection of your entourage.
In the 1940s, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard the legendary founders of Hewlett Packard (now HP), created a management technique — eventually dubbed "management by walking around or MBWA" — which is marked by personal involvement, good listening skills and the recognition that "everyone in an organization wants to do a good job."
Tom Peters, the guru of excellence says “In 1980, while doing some generic "excellence" research that later became In Search of Excellence, Bob Waterman and I interviewed then HP president John Young. (HP was a $1B company at the time, with marginal interest in computers). John explained that HP's hallmark "MBWA" was "more important than ever as we experience explosive growth." Well, Bob and I had no idea what "MBWA" was—though we'd both had a belly-full of strained acronyms. MBWA ... Managing By Wandering Around ... quickly became our favorite "excellence" idea! Technically, it meant staying in direct touch (damn the bureaucracy!) with the folks who do the work. Metaphorically, it stood for all/much of what was wrong with American management—McKinsey & Harvard Business School-style”.
Well isn’t MBWA another form of management staying connected? And I would say that staying connected is as important in today’s recessionary conditions as it was when HP was just a $1B company facing explosive growth some 30 years ago.
You and I still know and see many managers who prefer formal big monthly meetings over frequent chats, who don’t read their email but prefer to receive thick professionally produced reports printed in color, who prefer management by Excel and PowerPoint than MBWA, who won’t talk to the direct reports of their direct reports, and who opt to preserve, protect and glorify the chain of command at the expense being informed. I certainly hope that they will all be gone by the time the recession is over as they fail to learn from the people who do the work on the ground, and fail miserably in capturing the opportunities presented by the current economic conditions, they will be left behind as the financial crises fades away and their competitors start growing again.
There is a reason why Walmart and HP are prominently featured in the Fortune 500 today while many of their competitors like Digital Equipment, Data General, Kmart, Circuit City and Mervyn’s are faltering, lost their independence or are completely gone. Or maybe there is a reason the capital of IT informality [Oracle] is thriving today while its very formal rival [SAP] is cutting headcount. Comparing the market performance of the two companies may tell you something.
Managers, do make an effort to get connected, open your door, put on your hard hat, walk about, meet the people in the trenches, listen to their ‘war’ stories, extract the lessons, answer your phone calls, read/answer your emails and fight to keep your Blackberry! Formal companies often talk about the need for managers to ‘manage upwards’ while informal companies exercise openness, transparency and teaming.
Think about it!
Here is a scene from an old movie, the manager is sitting in his large office, not a single piece of paper on his clean and shiny desk, his good looking secretary (now known as PA) knocks on the door and enters with a folder in her hand. She puts it politely in front of the manager who takes his expensive pen and starts signing letters. The next scene usually has the manager confidently dictating a letter, the secretary probably using shorthand (if you do not know what that is never mind keep on reading) to note down what her boss is saying before she goes back to her desk to type the letter!
A stark contrast from today’s self serving modern manager who types his own email messages, dials his own calls and uses self service web based applications to claim his travel expenses and even book his own flights. Recently, I used a website to design, create, proof read, order and pay for my own business cards from a company half a world away totally in self service. The cards arrived two weeks later in the mail with a polite thank you note and by the way, I paid less than half the going local price for business cards.
“The internet changes everything” that is what Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chief said more than ten years ago as he unveiled Oracle8i, one of Oracle’s flagship products. He was absolutely right. The internet, like the power grid has opened the door for many innovative people and companies to introduce ground breaking solutions for our increasingly difficult day to day lives.
In my view, one of the most important internet enabled changes in our lives is the whole idea of self service. Self service for airline customers to design their own travel itineraries, for Ayman to order his own business cards, or for Mark who is using the web to locate a Windows Vista compatible driver for his old HP printer. They all go to the worldwide web, look for what they need, get it done in a relatively short time and avoid calling useless help desks and being put on hold for hours.
Self-service gives customers the immediate response they seek when attempting to process a request or resolve an issue. It also crucially reduces the operational costs associated with traditional face-to-face or phone interaction. Despite the best efforts of many companies, some customers remain attached to telephone and face-to-face interaction, particularly when they have a complaint about a product or service. This adds significant costs to running any business. According to Forrester Research, telephone-based customer service costs over $30 per transaction; by contrast web-based self-service costs just over $1 per transaction. But you all know that the trend is very solid, younger generations are much more comfortable with the web and have no time for a visit to the bank or the mobile phone company.
Naturally, web self-service falls into a number of categories. Content-based services focus on inquiries that can be fulfilled with static information, such as the “frequently asked questions". More advanced self-service applications use case-based reasoning and track relationships between customer inquiries and the information needed to satisfy them. And thirdly transaction-based services include services such as placing orders, filling out applications, updating customer information and making payments. To conduct transactions and obtain customer-specific information, Web self-service systems must fully integrate with enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP or other operational systems.
But customer service is not the only form of self service, I want to make the case (again?) for self service applications used inside the enterprise for example, applying for leave, raising a purchase requisition, updating your own HR record, doing your own performance appraisal or raising a support ticket to activate the synchronization with your new Blackberry!
Of course this means that your enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications are designed, implemented and deployed to support self service applications and are backed by a powerful workflow engine that acts upon each request by routing it within the company based on a predefined process flow.
Let us take the unlikely example of applying for a salary increase for one of your high performance employees. Without self service, this usually turns into a chain of email messages seeking approvals from a number of company executives often missing the right ones, not getting the order of approvals right and not surprisingly having your request turned down.
Now let us follow the sequence of events in a well designed self service environment, you log on to your company’s portal, you go to the human resources tab, you click on salary reviews, you select the employee from a drop down menu, a new screen opens with pre populated details of the employee, his previous performance reviews, current salary, previous salary and the date of his last salary change, you enter the new salary, you are prompted to enter the justification, you click submit. The workflow figures out who needs to approve this request and in what sequence, it thanks you for using the system and displays the list of approvers. Approvers get email notifications that a request is waiting for their approvals, they review your request, they may ask for more information, reject, or approve and pass it to the next approver … all in the workflow system that notifies you every time the status of your request changes. And finally when all the approvers give their OK, the workflow itself changes the salary of your hardworking employee in the HR system. It is not subject to data entry errors, or subjective discussions!
Similar examples are numerous but the benefits are the same:
· A standardized business process for each type of transaction
· You focus on what you need to do instead of understanding who should approve what or when
· You are always kept up to date with the progress of your request
· You do not have to struggle with messy email chains
· You save your time and the company saves money
· The company can measure the span of time each type of request takes in order to be completed and may tune the process accordingly
Enterprise self service applications offer great return on investment but are often ignored within ERP projects or considered “Phase II”. Don’t let that happen to you; don’t miss out on the added value offered by self service!
A recent survey conducted and published by the Dubai based 7Days newspaper indicates that 80% of the respondents believe that customer service is getting worse in Dubai. This is of course a very scary percentage especially for a city that has built its name on attracting multi-national corporations and the finest caliber of expats.
But how come the quality of service is declining while almost every bank, telecommunications operator, auto dealer and even local government departments are spending millions of Dollars on aggressive customer relationship management (CRM) projects?
The answer is simple; CRM alone cannot and will not improve your customer service levels for customer service is above all a corporate culture, not something that can be bought regardless to how fat your check book is. Many chief executives think that deploying a good CRM system is a good recipe for improving customer services.
Well, let me share with you the inconvenient truths:
That is why many smart CEOs are busy right now working on their strategies and cleverly investing in programs and technologies that will prepare their enterprises for the next wave, while not so smart CEOs and ducking down and adopting a wait and see approach.
On-Track Arabia is very well placed to help you rebuild your customer service so that your business is ready to gain the biggest market share as the economic conditions improve. Let us work with you on your strategy in order to infuse your corporate culture with customer orientation, sense of urgency and as part of the process support the selection and deployment of the right CRM solution accompanied by a well coordinated change management program.
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Usually ERP projects create a series of challenges for organizations, in many cases the combination of two or three of these challenges may be enough to cause delays, friction and possibly loss of ROI of the project. These challenges are:
Organizations in business for any length of time have likely navigated good – and bad – economic conditions. Interestingly management challenges exist in both environments. Yet, most decision-makers would agree that it takes much greater organizational maturity to weather a negative economic climate.
Think about it this way: In a strong economy companies face considerably less risk from poor decisions, under-performing assets, talent gap, and fat back office operations. In a tightening economy, however, organizations with bloated operating structures tend to be punished by shareholders, suppliers and especially competitors.
Without question, weathering a downturn depends, in part on visionary leadership. But choosing the right strategy is easier when your decision makers have access to robust insight that paints a complete and accurate picture of corporate performance. To gain this insight, they require the ability to monitor all key performance indicators in near real time.
John Hagerty, VP and research fellow at AMR Research, agrees “A company that has insight into its operations and its customers has an advantage over companies that don’t,” he says. “That is especially true during times
Business intelligence (BI) refers to knowledge, technologies, applications and practices used to help a business to acquire a better understanding of market trends, customer behaviors and business insight. For this purpose it undertakes the collection, integration, analysis, interpretation and presentation of business information.
Every year organizations gather and store increasing amounts of data. Mid-size organizations tell us that, on average, they have a minimum of 7 operational data sources. These sources contain data the business users often want to tap into, in order to make the best decisions to steer the business in the right direction.
BI applications provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations, most often using data already gathered into a data warehouse or a data mart and occasionally working from operational data. Software elements support the use of this information by assisting in the extraction, analysis, and reporting of information. Common functionality of business intelligence applications includes reporting, analytics, dashboards, scorecards, data mining, corporate performance management (CPM), and predictive analysis. BI applications tackle sales, production, financial, and many other sources of business data for purposes that include, notably, business performance management, trends and customer behaviors.
The business intelligence space is dominated by a number of integrated offering vendors lead by IBM (Cognos), Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Information Builders, SAS and MicroStrategy in addition to a very large number of smaller niche players.
On-Track Arabia is in an ideal position to help its customers develop and implement innovative business strategies .. let us help you through the bad times an
Small businesses often believe the benefits of CRM are beyond their reach. Although these companies have lower turnover and a smaller workforce than large enterprises, they often have similar (but maybe simpler) business processes, and sometimes the same disparate business applications and databases. As a result, they face the same challenge: to create a single view of the customer across the organization, so that they can offer consistent and profitable products and services.
Business growth brings the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to the realization that it can no longer sustain the informal, regular personal interaction with its customers - often the differentiator that allowed it to compete successfully with larger rivals. Close customer understanding allows SMEs to tailor their offerings in response to customer needs and new competitors. Under these circumstances, a CRM system can be a strategic tool for retaining customers and acquiring new ones as the business grows.
Disparate information systems are a characteristic of the information technology infrastructure of most businesses, small and large. Companies traditionally buy individual software solutions to fulfill a particular business need - financials, e-mail, website, sales forecasting and customer contact management.
Over the years the number of systems increases, along with complexity and the lack of integration. This means the company faces difficulties basing decisions on different versions of the ‘truth’ emanating from information that could be duplicated, conflicting and incomplete.
What benefit, therefore, would be yet another software package with yet another data source ‘bolted on’ to the others - similar in its isolation and inability to draw from the information generated from others? Most simplistic CRM applications aimed specifically at small businesses often fail to measure up to the organization’s needs. The lack of close integration with the rest of the business applications can rob the SME of CRM’s full potential. The lack of customization and configuration options can make the applications inflexible.
On the other hand an effective CRM strategy involves, in the main, the closer integration with existing systems, tapping the valuable customer information already residing within existing business applications and a new discipline that supports the business growth or even the economic downturn! In all cases the strategy should stem from your business needs not from a product demonstration. In short your CRM strategy must be about driving information down to staff so that they can offer informed services, and up to management so they have the data they need to make well-informed decisions.
Setting the strategy and selecting your CRM solutions are the cornerstones for success; this is where On-Track Arabia can help you, our four step process is designed exactly to do that.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a model of software deployment where an application is licensed for use as a service provided to customers on subscription basis via the Internet. This alleviates the customer's burden of purchasing and managing servers as well as licensing the software upfront. It also reduces traditional software maintenance efforts, ongoing patches, and patch support complexity in an organization. On demand licensing enables software to become a variable expense, rather than a fixed cost at the time of purchase.
SaaS lets software vendors control and limit use, prohibits copies and distribution, and facilitates the control of all derivative versions of their software. SaaS centralized control often allows the vendor or supplier to establish an ongoing revenue stream with multiple businesses and users without loading software in each customer's server.
One of the best examples of SaaS offerings is salesforce.com, a prominent player in the CRM arena. Although more traditional software vendors like SAP and Oracle have created their own SaaS initiatives (like SAP Business ByDesign and Oracle CRM On Demand), many feel that they may have done so as an insurance policy just in case SaaS really picks up with customers. In fact many published articles quoted the CEO of Oracle saying that SaaS will be dead within two years.
Why do traditional software vendors take SaaS half heartedly? I believe there is a number of good reasons: