Your shout! On getting the most out of CRM technology

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On getting the most out of CRM technology

In response to Steve Ackling's opinion (Computer Weekly, 13 April), that companies do not understand how to get the most from customer relationship management systems

Steve Ackling rightly stated that business users need to be educated on how to maximise their use of CRM technology.

There is no point in running CRM if it is not integrated with accounts, logistics or e-mail, or any other business-critical application, and also if it is not available in real-time.

If there is no integration with the accounts where the transactional information is held, then monitoring the profitability of customers is simply stopped in its tracks. Alternatively, if the sales information is not available to the CRM system, how can you build sales campaigns based on specific products bought or not bought by customers?

Companies need fully integrated customer information with access to a single source of data. When viewed in isolation, the usefulness of information from a CRM system is only of limited value.

Stephen Jay, director, Hansa Business Solutions

If larger firms are continuing to set unrealistic goals for CRM, the IT community must realise that there is even more danger for small and medium-sized enterprises.

With Microsoft recently entering the CRM market, CRM will become appealing to this new, historically reticent audience and SMEs will start to consider CRM products.

However, few SMEs can afford this level of investment without getting a quantifiable return. Although SMEs have embraced the need for phased deployments, few realise that the same focused, phased approach must be applied to CRM if it is to be of any sustainable value.

It is the responsibility of the IT community to not only encourage, but enforce a phased approach on their SME customers, and help them take the primary step of defining and quantifying business objectives to achieve ongoing success.

Andrew Watkinson, CPiO

On why internet abuse is the board's problem

In response to the Department of Trade & Industry's survey which stated that firms are not controlling staff access to e-mail and the internet (Computer Weekly, 13 April)

The DTI's 2004 Information Breaches Survey showed that despite the well-publicised security risks of not controlling employee use of the internet and e-mail, the message is not getting through to UK businesses.

This issue must be seriously considered at boardroom level, and not left to the IT or human resources manager. Without such controls firms are leaving themselves open to serious network breaches and even civil or criminal prosecution.

Firms need to look at the threats posed by applications such as peer to peer and instant messaging, and not just at what they can bring into an firm but also what they allow out.

Technology requires the backbone of a clear-cut internet and e-mail usage policy that is communicated to all employees. Securing IT systems and intellectual property must be top of the boardroom's priorities.

Andy Wooles, Managing director, FutureSoft UK

On the perceived role of XBRL

In response to Ed Holt's letter (Computer Weekly, 20 April) which stated that XBRL is already being deployed by many UK firms

To state that XBRL is already an accounting standard is a little premature.

Ed Holt stated that "Unlike XML, it gives context data". I hate to burst the bubble, but XBRL is very much an XML syntax. I quote from xbrl.org, "XBRL is an XML-based, royalty-free open standard being developed by XBRL International... XBRL is not designed for financial transactions, but for business reporting."

That XBRL is in fact an XML is very useful to small and medium-sized firms which are unable to update their current applications to XBRL. If their current applications are able to output to XML, it will not be to difficult to produce a stylesheet to transform XML into XBRL.

As more and more software applications do this, the adoption of XBRL along with other financial and business XML "standards" such as EBXML, IFX and OFX, can be speeded up. But only if people understand what it is and how it may help.

Simon Bain, chief technology officer, TENdotZERO

This was last published in April 2004

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