Hey big spenders, spend a little time on CRM


Following my recent horrendous experiences with Barclays and NatWest, I'm one hundred per cent behind GartnerG2 when they call for financial institutions to buck up their ideas on improving CRM. From the number of emails and responses that came from you with your own hell on earth tales of bad banking experiences, I'd assume you'll all be in agreement as well.

For too long we've allowed this assumption to go unchallenged that the financial services sector somehow has a lead in any new technology area, CRM being no exception. What we're confusing here of course is the fact that the financial services companies have traditioanlly bought any technology innovation going and the idea that having bought it they can successfully use it for the benefit of themselves and their customers.

In reality, the big spending financial services firms are really living out an enteprise level version of 'toys for boys'. If it's new and shiney and bleeding edge, let's get a copy and see what it does. It's a policy that has resulted in almost every software vendor being able to claim that, for example, Barclays is a customer - on the basis that Barclays bought a copy to evaluate its potential.

This in turn of course made the financial services sector one of the most lucrative seams to mine for applications vendors, although of late even the biggest spenders there have had to tighten their belts. Getting a foot hold in the European public sector market is now a much better bet for contract hungry vendors...

The only problem with GartnerG2's advice might be the timing. Financial institutions across Europe have a big problem about to land on their mats in the shape of the Basel II protocol. It's designed to ensure that better risk management practices are in place, which in a post-Enron world is clearly a good thing. It's also reckoned by the analyst community to be a bigger IT roll out - and spend - than Y2K.

Of course, that also explains why Basel II is the one area on which all applications software vendors have near bottomless marketing budgets at the moment. While GartnerG2's ambitions for financial institutions are admirable, it's likely to be external regulatory pressures that dominate spending in the coming 12 months, not ramping up their CRM thinking...


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