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My bicycle and stand alone CRM solutions

My bicycle and stand alone CRM solutions

By Rob Delnoij | Dec 12, 2008 | 5585 reads

Thumbail image from server side store: 

A while back I started getting interested in triathlons, no not the big iron man ones, but the Olympic distance which is “only” 1500 meter swim, 40km bike ride, and 10km run.

At that time I was riding a mountain bike which is great to get around town and can handle the “harsh” Singapore city environment.
For my first triathlon I decided that I would modify my mountain bike by putting on race tires to increase the speed which actually worked. During my training I was able to increase my average speed from just over 20km/h with mountain bike tires to about 25 km/h with thin race tires. As you can imagine I was very happy with the result.
On the day of the big race, I performed reasonably well during the swim however when it came to the bicycle lap I was passed by most other competitors who all cycled on race bikes, and even though I had a good run I never really caught up to most of them.
Moral of the story, if you want to compete at any level you need to make sure you have the best tools available otherwise you will be at a disadvantage.
You can compare progress against your own past performance, however to compete with other companies the only yard stick that is good enough is how well your competitors are doing.
After the quick rise of CRM around 2000, some of the software industry greats, Tom and Larry, declared that stand alone systems did not have a future and most industry analysts agree with them. However in the last few years we have seen the rise of stand alone solutions based on the SaaS concept, especially in the CRM area. The marketing message of these stand alone SaaS CRM solutions is that they are easy to implement, attractively priced and promise good returns. Talking to users of these SaaS CRM solutions you will usually hear positive feedback on how they helped the company to improve their transactional sales processes.
However, once companies start extending the scope of the CRM implementation they run into the limitations of a SaaS CRM solution. Despite what the SaaS vendor promised, the integration is difficult and costly, and in most cases the SaaS CRM solution ends up as an island. Companies also find that SaaS CRM only offer basic functionality and that configuration is expensive or not possible while there is no or limited industry specific functionality. Last but not least most SaaS CRM solutions do not offer an on-premise version which means when a customer decides that they have out grown the SaaS version the customer needs to implement a new CRM solution.
I will not argue here that there is not a place or a need for SaaS solutions. However companies should realize that buying a pure play SaaS solution that covers a specific area like CRM will only help them to solve some immediate transaction related pain points. Similar to me putting race tires on my mountain bike.
If a company wants to compete at the highest level, and this is something every company should try especially in these difficult times, only a fully integrated CRM solution will set them apart from their competitors.  Customer facing processes have moved on from being just a pure front office to be an integrated subset of enterprise software. A customer centric strategy comprises that companies should be looking at processes that run across front and back office such as order fulfillment. It's not just about the front office. SaaS point solutions will not enable customers to build in business process automation.
Companies will realize at some point in time that CRM stand alone solutions are just a band-aid that will cover some pain points but will not solve the deeper issues of not having a customer centric strategy.
I hope Santa will bring me a race bike.


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Rob Delnoij is the Asia Pacific Japan CRM Solution Principal for SAP. He has over 20 years experience and worked with global and local companies in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the USA. Rob's main focus is on helping companies defining and enabling a customer centric strategy.
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