CRM disappoints end users

Despite the local enthusiasm for CRM, the technology has begun to disappoint many users as it has failed to deliver the superior service and quick return on investment (ROI) promised by the vendors.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  November 11, 2002

An increasing number of organisations from around the Middle East are either in the process of, or planning to, implement customer relationship management (CRM) applications. However, despite this local enthusiasm, CRM on the global scale has begun to disappoint the end user community, as it has failed to deliver the superior service and quick return on investment (ROI) promised by the vendors.

Although this disillusionment stems from a number of factors, the overriding issue appears to be over expectation on behalf of end users. “If you look at the way people tend to buy technology, it is usually with high expectations and a huge naivety of what the products will deliver. CRM is no different to e-business, ERP or data warehousing — people saw them all as something magical that would solve their problems, but this is unrealistic,” says Ashim Pal, vice president web and collaboration strategies, Meta Group.

However, Riadh Boukhris, vice president of MEA & South Asia for Altitude Software, argues that the poor track record of CRM thus far is not down to the technology, but the way businesses approach it. “CRM has been one of the largest areas for technology investment by companies in recent years, and yet it is claimed that ROI in most projects is poor. It is not that the technology itself is unsuitable, but that it cannot clarify the vision needed to drive an integrated CRM strategy,” he says.

“Technology will enable CRM, but you have to understand your organisation’s culture, constantly educate the key people who will be affected by the CRM strategy and show them what is in it for them. They will make it work and use the system,” adds Dr. Ivan Roche, principal business consultant at Lagan.

While Pal agrees that the responsibility for a successful implementation lies with a combination of IT and business resources, he argues that the vendors have not helped foster this attitude by creating an image of 90-day implementations and quick ROI.

“The vendors have been extremely arrogant about the role of their software in solving problem… [In reality,] CRM projects have tended to be really big, take a long time, and be really painful,” he explains.

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