CRM is all a state of mind

Jon Page, Oracle EMEA’s vice president of business development for business intelligence and data warehousing, says CRM is more about your mind than your software.

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By  David Ingham Published  March 19, 2001

Customer relationship management (CRM) is not just “a bunch of computer software,” but is all a state of mind. That’s the opinion of none another than a senior executive from Oracle, a company that happens to have a big interest in selling you a bunch of computer software.

“For me it’s a mental thing, it’s a strategy,” says Jon Page, Oracle EMEA’s vice president of business development for business intelligence and data warehousing. “I think CRM is all about being selective in who your customers are and how you treat them.”

Instead of just feeding out identical products to every single customer, what you’re trying to do is retain the loyalty of profitable ones whilst increasing the value of less profitable customers. This requires looking at them in different ways and being innovative in your development of products and services.

Needless to say, technology does come into this because you need software that allows you to segment and analyse customer data. But the first real step towards becoming a customer oriented rather than product oriented organisation is changing your mindset.

“You can have all the technology you want but if you don’t execute against it, you don’t get the benefits,” says Page. “There’s probably a section of companies out there at the moment wasting their money with CRM software.”

The not so comforting news is that becoming a customer-focused organisation isn’t easy. So do you bring in the Big Five consultants, perhaps, and go through a business process re-engineering exercise?
“I don’t want to be rude but I think anyone truly knows how to do this,” says Page. “They can understand exactly the technology, but how to revamp a complete company? I’m not sure anyone knows how to do it.”

What this all shows is that the path from old fashioned product oriented organisation to customer-focused one is not smooth. But it’s a transition that Page believes is relevant to any company, not just a company the size of say, Emirates Airlines, which has made itself completely CRM-driven.

“I think it’s equally as applicable to large guys as small guys,” says Page. “Do you want to sell a small number of things to a lot of people or sell a lot of things to a small number of people.”

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