‘Joined-up marketing’ delights conferences and seminars but finding a real-life implementation is hard indeed – although not impossible, as Sun Microsystems discovered
Global hardware, software and IT services business Sun Microsystems is just like any other business in its heavy reliance on the ability to continually drive sales and marketing activity forward. In the face of ever increasing global competition, the ability to communicate quickly and effectively with both current and potential customers is an essential factor for continued business success.
Historically, Sun’s UK and European operations engaged in sales and marketing activity using a wide variety of data sources – often compiled by and used solely for the local business team, with no particular regard to information duplication or overlap with other Sun business teams elsewhere. Typically, this information was held on multiple databases and in multiple formats, making it extremely difficult to cross-reference into a single, unified source.
Such an apparently disconnected marketing model offered clear opportunities for improvement and Sun quickly identified the potential benefits of moving to a fully integrated, single customer view throughout all of its UK and European offices.
“We decided to aim for a single, unified system for both sales and marketing functions, capable of being updated directly by both internal departments and external agencies, dealers and business partners,” explains Sun’s marketing communications manager, Catherine Raymond.
Sun turned to marketing and data services expert CRM Technologies for help. The company identified several areas for either action or improvement, based on an assessment of Sun’s current issues. “Most of our problems arose out of practical inconsistencies rather than any lack of capability,” says Raymond, “but we needed a solution that would provide us with a formal, policy-based approach to data that would enable us to achieve the business goals we wanted.”
Inconsistencies were present in data entry, data cleaning, profiling and lead scoring, together with the allocation of leads to business partners, as well as Sun’s own internal sales departments. Critically, however, Sun’s own, Siebel-based sales package was not synchronising fully with the company’s marketing database system. Achieving this would be a significant step towards a much desired ‘single view’ of the customer or prospect.
The solution centred around a managed service, using the marketing database as a central information resource. Data originating in Sun’s Siebel sales system, together with live feeds from other contact points such as Sun’s own installed base, would be replicated in the marketing database during a weekly upload, while older contacts were ‘cleaned’ and new data metrics added to encourage consistency within both systems.
Further profiling and opt-in/out verification of all contacts then allowed the establishment of a fully functional, single-view e-marketing system, capable of managing all Sun’s e-marketing communication and event management activities. Although Sun has yet to initiate this capability, the managed system will enable e-mail blasts, campaign tracking, workflow, response handling and sales lead allocation – with all progress and response information feeding back into the central master database.
”What we now have is a fully functional, fully integrated e-marketing system where every sales or marketing contact enhances our knowledge and understanding of the customer,” says Raymond. “Furthermore, the system allows customers themselves to come away with a highly positive view of Sun, irrespective of whether the initial contact is inbound or outbound.
CRM Technologies has combined all Sun’s previously disparate marketing data into a single information resource. Sun personnel and external partners and agencies can interface with the system via a managed web service. Marketing workflow templates allow both quick and easy design of campaigns and control of marketing messages, while real-time campaign monitoring facilities help keep track of both campaign costs and return on investment.
Today, over 20 of Sun’s UK marketing team and up to 100 UK sales and account managers use the system on a daily basis. The model has proved so successful that Sun is now in the process of rolling out the system to 90 of its offices in the EMEA region.
Sun’s UK marketing director Michael Avis is impressed with the impact that CRM Technologies has had on productivity. “Essentially, we have outsourced the entire ‘problem’ of campaign management and data management,” he says . “For its part, CRM has a combination of know-how, technology and manpower resource to solve it. In essence, CRM has become another ‘department’ within Sun’s UK organisation – one that enables our marketing department to function effectively with database technology that actually delivers results.”