recently asked me what my thoughts were about CRM — why initial CRM projects failed, what has changed to make deployments successful, and what the future holds for CRM. Here is the second part of my answers, as well as a link to the published article.


Question: What has improved/changed to make CRM implementations more successful now?

Answer: My flip answer is that we’ve all grown up. Our technology has matured, we now have best practice processes to scope, implement, and deploy CRM systems, and we understand the organizational commitment and achieve the ROI that CRM has been promising us for the last decade.

A more factual answer is that CRM systems are now feature-rich, with best practice and industry-specific workflows built into them. This means that customers can choose to adopt these best practices without needing many man-months of customization work. The CRM architecture has evolved to make them immensely scalable, more easily integratable with other IT systems, as well as easily changeable to keep in step with changing business needs (think about all the mergers and acquisitions that have happened in the past several years, and the IT changes that have had to quickly happen to preserve the customer experience). There are also SaaS solutions available to achieve a rapid time-to-value, and we see a significant uptick in SaaS CRM adoption. Vendors and system integrators have a proven track record of deploying, tuning, and optimizing CRM projects to achieve quantifiable ROI, and this knowledge can be easily leveraged.


Question: What typically characterized a CRM project 10 years ago? And what do you believe typically characterizes a CRM project today?

Answer: Projects 10 years ago were focused mainly on sales force automation, with customer service solutions as a second. Today, in Forrester’s recent research, we found that while social CRM solutions have captured the imagination of decision-makers at many organizations, it is the tried-and-true technologies that offer the most certain return on investment and are seeing traction.

In our TechRadar™ review of 19 customer management technology categories, we found that:

  •  Selling, ordering, and servicing solutions deliver the most certain business value. Solutions that are viewed as highly critical to success, have a good market reputation among buyers, and are seen as relatively easy to implement include: eCommerce, sales force automation (SFA), order management, customer service and support (CSS), and call center infrastructure. What is particularly interesting is how critical these solutions are perceived to be compared with other categories.
  • Marketing and partner channel management solutions offer less assured value. Two longstanding categories of customer management applications — enterprise marketing management (EMM), and partner relationship management (PRM) — are not perceived to be highly critical for business success by the respondents that we surveyed. Their market reputation is mixed, as well. This was true for both B2B and B2C companies.
  • Customer insight and data management solutions are critical, but somewhat risky. Customer business intelligence (CBI) is considered essential for success, and this category has a good market reputation. However, CBI is considered difficult to implement. Similarly, CDM is viewed as critical to success, but market reputation and ease of implementation are also question marks.
  • Solutions that require complex integration have the most uncertainty. Three solutions categories — configure, price, and quote (CPQ); field service management; and contract life-cycle management (CLM) — are viewed as only moderately important but are difficult to implement. Another closely related solution, revenue and pricing management, is also an uncertain bet for delivering strong business value because these solutions are hard to install within a company.
  • The business value of social solutions is yet to be proven. Interest in social CRM solutions is growing rapidly. But mainstream companies are watching for evidence of success from early adopters. Although enterprise feedback solutions, customer community platforms, and customer forums are viewed positively by the respondents in our survey, none of these three are considered “critical” to success.

 Read the full article, "CRM sticking points – and seven tips to survive them" at: