While economic conditions appear to have forced some companies to delay projects or reduce the scope of implementation, a recent Dataquest survey* shows that 65% of the respondents plan to have CRM initiatives deployed in their enterprise by 2002.
"Through 2002, large and midsize enterprises will continue to implement big-name CRM suites using top-tier consulting and system integration companies," said Debashish Sinha, senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest's IT services worldwide group. "CRM initiatives are evolving and iterative in nature, often requiring multiphase implementations, continued application management and several individual projects based on an overall program strategy."
Analysts said there is a high propensity among enterprises that use external service providers (ESPs) to consider their services ongoing. This gives the ESPs the opportunity and requirement for long-term commitments but also poses a threat to service providers that cannot build their client base quickly.
"Given their position among the top and upper mid-market enterprises, the top-tier consulting and systems integration companies are in the best position to gain leadership in the CRM services market," Sinha said. "After 2003, based on continued growth in the their customer relationships, they will effectively own the CRM services space."
A key implementation challenge faced by organizations attempting a CRM deployment has been the lack of coordination among various user departments. While corporate executives are planning enterprise-wide deployments, specific divisions continue to implement point solutions based on their current needs and business environment. This creates a key reason for enterprises to consider Tier 2 service providers for CRM services. Smaller companies demonstrate a more focused approach to business process issues and are largely willing to commit to quantifiable benefits to gain visibility within large enterprise customers.
"Enterprises struggling with lack of coordination across departments should consider the needs of individual groups and work on a top-down/bottom-up strategy," Sinha said. "Because department-level CRM deployments may be more cost-effectively supported by a Tier 2 system integrator with domain-specific skill sets and software relationships, the enterprise should identify a master list of approved smaller service providers to work on individual projects."
The top-tier providers can then primarily focus on supporting the continued convergence of the enterprise's IT and business strategy, help develop the standards for the CRM solution, implement the core components of the CRM initiative, manage the coordination across departmental-level initiatives and provide methodologies to track the overall business impact.
* Additional information is available in the Gartner Dataquest Perspective 'Outlook for CRM Implementation Services, 2002'. This document examines how opportunities for CRM providers will evolve and what will be the keys to a successful deployment.