InfoWorld Test Center Research Report: The ABCs of CRM

SAN MATEO, CA – APRIL 13, 2001- InfoWorld, the weekly magazine that delivers in-depth analysis of enterprise technology and strategies combined to deliver insight into vital business solutions, will reveal the results of its latest reader survey in its April 16 issue. The poll, conducted last February, asked 500 InfoWorld readers about specific aspects of customer relationship management (CRM) such as sales force, marketing and service automation, as well as links to other systems such as back-office and supply chain management applications. All survey participants are directly involved with acquiring CRM software and services and work with 100 or more other employees, and the data has a sample tolerance variance of plus or minus 4.4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

 

According to InfoWorld, the poll reveals a telling contradiction: although the vast majority of respondents – 78 percent – consider CRM critical, a mere 35 percent have actually implemented a CRM system, confirming the complexity and difficulty faced by IT leaders when tackling a CRM implementation. But, InfoWorld advises, a sound CRM implementation is a necessary step toward making a company more flexible and open to today's dynamic business environment, despite difficult implementation and budget constraints.

InfoWorld has found that breaking a CRM project into more manageable and less expensive sub-projects and taking a phased approach, deploying first what is most appropriate and easiest to achieve in a company's environment, will enable a company to achieve CRM goals most successfully. For example, 49 percent of readers surveyed started with a call center or customer service solution, 21 percent initially deployed a sales force automation (SFA) solution, and 10 percent began by implementing marketing automation (MA).

Based on survey results, InfoWorld recommends ensuring interdepartmental cooperation before embarking on a CRM project. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents said that obtaining widespread cooperation from all levels inside the company is a major bump in the road to putting a CRM strategy in place, and 24 percent indicated that lack of management team commitment is a serious handicap. Another 29 percent attributed CRM failure to an unsupportive cultural climate inside the company, and 46 percent of technology decision-makers surveyed indicated integration with existing applications as a major impediment – a number rivaled by an impressive 40 percent who put the blame on the lack of skilled IT resources. In addition, 20 percent of respondents viewed a lack of IT infrastructure as an obstacle to CRM.

Nearly 35 percent of survey respondents have deployed SFA solutions from major vendors such as Oracle, PeopleSoft or Siebel. Seventy-three percent of respondents said that the availability of a complete solution from the vendor is a very important or critical factor for their choice. In addition, 27 percent have deployed a CRM solution that integrates with e-commerce applications. The remainder of survey participants reported using CRM-focused vendors such as Clarify, FrontRange Solutions (previously Goldmine), Interact Commerce (previously SalesLogix), Nortel Networks and Onyx. While 5 percent of readers reported developing their own solutions for SFA and call/service center applications, none plan to build a homemade solution in the future.

"Based on what we found in this survey, we believe that an effective CRM solution can improve market penetration and strengthen customer loyalty – as long as the implementation is based on a thorough evaluation of a company's business process and ensures cooperation among multiple departments," said Robert Magnuson, president and CEO of InfoWorld Media Group. "Thirty-five percent of our readers reported CRM projects that met or exceeded expectations. By sharing these stories and analyzing what works well and what doesn't, we can provide technology decision-makers with the tools and insights they need to create and execute smart technology strategies."

About InfoWorld Media Group

InfoWorld Media Group delivers in-depth analysis of enterprise technology and strategies combined to provide insight into vital business solutions through its integrated online, print, research and events channels. In an era when technology is more critical to business success than ever before, InfoWorld Media Group provides senior IT level expertise for executives such as CTOs and CIOs on how technology drives specific business benefits such as revenue growth, relationship management, and enhancing organizational efficiencies.

InfoWorld Media Group's coverage of key technologies, products and trends that assist IT professionals in leveraging technology for business advantage is substantiated by original research conducted in InfoWorld's $23 million, dedicated multi-platform, enterprise test center. Since 1978, InfoWorld has performed the industry's most trusted testing of technology and products. To learn more about InfoWorld, go to www.infoworld.com.

Headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., InfoWorld Media Group is a wholly owned independent business unit of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company. IDG publishes more than 285 computer magazines and newspapers and 500 book titles and offers online users the largest network of technology-specific sites around the world through IDG.net (http://www.idg.net), which comprises more than 200 targeted Web sites in 52 countries. IDG is also a leading producer of 110 computer-related expositions worldwide, and provides IT market analysis through 49 offices in 41 countries worldwide. Company information is available at http://www.idg.com.