aCRM hits mass adoption

Analytical customer relationship management (aCRM) technology,is being adopted by enterprises on a broader global scale, according to analyst firm Datamonitor.

In a new report, "Analytical CRM", the firm forecasts global enterprise investment in aCRM will grow from an estimated $2.3 billion today to over $3 billion in 2009.

"The aCRM, and wider CRM market is going through a period of exciting change," says Tom Pringle, Technology Analyst at Datamonitor and author of the study. "High and stable growth reflects the value businesses place on understanding more about their customers. However, vendors will need to make every effort to educate enterprises. Many are still confused by the concept and technologies that constitute BI."

Datamonitor defeins aCRM as the active collection, concentration and analysis of data gathered about the customer and his interactions with the business. It calls it the next, logical step in this development path through utilisation of customer data held within the enterprise. This analysis is then used to generate value, both for the enterprise and the enterprise's customers. It encompasses cultural change at every level as part of the wider CRM project: the creation of a customer focused business.

Datamonitor has identified six key user groups in aCRM output:

Power users - Usually the smallest group and by far the most advanced. They require the full flexibility BI tools can supply, and often provide other areas of the business with information from their own analysis

Senior Executives - Interest in aCRM is often limited to dashboards detailing performance against key performance indicators (KPIs). The breadth of this information, however, can be significant, with executives across different parts of the business having different priorities. While appearing simple, often the technology behind the dashboard is complex

Marketing organisations - One of the larger groups and potentially one of the most advanced. They are in a position to become advanced users of aCRM, a process only just getting under way in most adopting businesses

Sales organisations - A potentially significant user group. Their needs are often found in the output of other area's analysis. For example, the use of leads generated through marketing campaigns, timely info rmation delivery, especially during closing periods when targets are either hit, or missed

Customer-facing organisations - Predominately the call center, but also retail environments. These users are dependent on timely and accurate delivery of information relating to the customers they are dealing with

Customers - Offering customers intelligence about the way they use products purchased from that company can be a competitive differentiator. Simple, pre-defined queries and easy to understand delivery is key

But Pringle warned: "Vendors in this space need to tread carefully to exploit the opportunities which exist. Market education is a clear requirement, with many potential users confused by the range of technological options available to them, and a lack of understanding around the uses of aCRM. There are clear signs marking the appropriateness of aCRM for different enterprises and vendors will do well targeting those that display them."

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