CRM-Forum Relationships Network
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The Relationships Network is a global, web-based conversation on CRM by leading innovators, thinkers and practitioners that will take place within the CRM Forum (

Sections 4 through 6 of this document provide more details. The CRM industry although young, is growing at a phenomenal rate. There is a need globally, to bring the key industry players together to assist companies in the successful adoption of CRM. The Network will raise the level of CRM success by sharing experiences and accelerating learning. We cannot be experts in all areas, so by sharing our experiences in this community we all gain. The community, with its diverse knowledge and backgrounds, will enable problem solving and opportunity realisation at much faster rates than any one company on its own. This discussion is already taking place in a fragmented, unordered way. Using the power of the networked economy we can harness this discussion for the benefit of all.

­­2.0 Frequently Asked Questions about the Relationships Network

2.1 What are the main elements of the Relationships Network?

2.1.1 A catalogued conversation - There are many on-line forums available. However they all offer the whole conversation, in its original unedited form, to all users. This makes finding information near impossible. The Relationships Network will become personalised. The conversation’s main points will be pulled, tagged and placed in a library (this will be carried out by content editors). A thought leadership library can then be built. This will become as important as the conversation itself.

2.1.2 One-to-One delivery – It is planned to use state-of-the-art software to move to a one-to-one delivery, third generation site. This will allow content and user preferences to be matched (rather than content being matched to user segments). A user will be able to get personalised content according to his or her preferences and actions.

2.1.3 Community and Sub-community Development – As user profiles are built they can be grouped with like-minded people. This will help to develop sub-communities of members with similar interests.

2.1.4 Access – The network is a completely open area, although private conversations can be established in Closed User Groups. Initially no charge will be levied for access as it is felt the benefits gained will out-weight the development and management costs.

2.1.5 Chargeable Advice – In the networked economy discussion is mostly free. However it may be necessary to set up a ‘consultant’s corner’ when very specific and detailed advice is needed that only pertains to one member. The objective of the network is to allow ‘free discussion’ but not to put consultants out of business.

2.1.6 Social Engineering - This is probably the most important aspect of the site – getting people to talk. Discussions are already underway with experts in community building and linguistics to manage this.

2.2 What types of people/companies will be asked to join and what they all do?

The types or people/companies that will be asked to join are CRM analysts, universities involved with CRM, CRM consultancies both small and large, CRM vendors, CRM information providers and business to consumer companies involved in CRM. There will be five areas where people/companies will be asked to contribute. Companies may fall in to more than one area.

2.2.1 Discussion Leader – These companies will initially be Board members and will take on one discussion topic (initial topics listed in section 4). They will be responsible for ensuring users have the support they need in the form a experts available to answer their questions. The discussion leader will also be responsible for setting up on-line Q&A sessions, editing the discussions and placing the edited discussion, along with other relevant information into the library.

2.2.2 Editors – They will take on a particular topic and edit the discussion for entry into the library. They will be considered the expert in that area and they/their Company will receive recognition for this. It is up to the discussion leader to ensure the conversation is being edited.

2.2.2 Content Providers – This will come from the CRM-Forum, CRM specialist consultancies, companies in the CRM space, but other members may provide relevant CRM content for either the CRM-Forum or the Relationships Network Library.

2.2.3 The Panel – These are the recognised subject experts who will also facilitate the discussion. It is up to the discussion leader who is on the Panel.

2.2.4 Users – These are the people who will make up the general discussion group.

2.3 Is this a forum/discussion group?

The essence of the project is a series of forums/discussion groups. However the Relationships Network will be personalised. This means not only are users directed towards conversations and information of interest, but also people with similar interests. Therefore sub-communities will evolve probably from peer groups. The other big advantage of the Relationships Network will be the expert knowledge it contains.

2.4 Is this an Extranet?

In the traditional sense of the word no, i.e. an internet that allows controlled access by outside parties and typically will link different company intranets together for the purpose of doing business. This network will link companies together in a controlled manner for the purpose of developing knowledge.

2.5 What if my competitors see this information?

A key attribute of the networked economy is open discussion. We can all learn as much from our competitors as from industry experts, maybe even more. However we understand for companies to talk openly they must feel comfortable that their competitors are not using any information against them For this reason it is possible to establish Closed User Groups where membership is Determined by the discussion leader.

2.6 What is in it for me?

2.6.1 Increased Knowledge – Being part of a global conversation on CRM by leading innovators, thinkers and practitioners and the knowledge/opportunities that has to offer.

2.6.2 Networking – building relationships with key people and companies operating or interested in the CRM space.

2.6.3 Increased Sales – By listening to companies and what they are trying to do it may be that can fulfil these needs. Also the network is an area for learning, by inviting prospects onto the area they can see the benefits of CRM.

2.6.4 Research Possibilities –The discussion can be used to highlight areas where research is lacking and the community can be used as the research population either in its entirety or through select segments. However this can only happen if the research benefits the community

3.0 Scenarios

These brief scenarios are intended to provide an overview of the types of activity that are envisaged to take place over the network.

John Smith a banking executive from Bank X receives an invitation from the Relationships Network to join a Q&A session from Dr. Hans Gruber on the topic of mobile CRM. The Relationships Network, using its smart logic, had stored the fact that Mr. Smith was interested in this topic through his previous discussions. After the Q&A, John Smith starts up a conversation with other audience members. They take their discussion to the mobile CRM discussion area in the Relationships Network. A sub-community is starting to form of banking executives who are interested in client value measurement. As this area develops other Relationships Network users will be offered access if their profiles match.

Jane Cook from Bank Y asks a question on client value measurement*. John Smith who has attended a Q&A on this topic is able to answer her question and point her in the right direction for more information. As John’s experience has been positive he is more than happy to help out Jane. The community feeling further develops.

Peter Wright from Insure Today is discussing his needs with an expert on campaign management. The system, realising Peter Wright’s needs offers him the highlights of an analyst’s paper that may be of interest to him and details of a course run by the DMA on campaign management. There is an option to click for more information. If Peter Wright wants more specific information he can move into the ‘consultant’s corner’ where this can be arranged for a fee.

These are very brief scenarios. The main point is that it is up to the community how the system develops. Private areas can be set up, sub-communities developed and relationships built.

*Note: Jane Cook did not receive an invitation to Dr. Gruber’s Q&A as she had shown no interest in this topic before. However there is a full list of events and Miss Cook could have attended the Q&A is he had wanted to. She was just not automatically informed of it because it was not relevant to her at that time.

4.0 How will the network operate?

The Relationships Network will sit inside the CRM-Forum ( The Network will be an open area for anyone with an interest in CRM (e.g. universities, vendors, analysts, information providers, business to consumer companies) to discuss the key issues relates to CRM.

There will also be a Relationships Network Strategy Board made up of around 12 companies who are expert in CRM. The board will be the driving force for the Network and will determine, by majority, which companies should be members of that board (however it is important to note that anyone can join in the various discussions within the Relationships Network). The Board will be made up from a variety of CRM experts, e.g. analysts, universities involved with CRM, CRM consultancies both small and large, CRM vendors, CRM information providers and business to consumer companies who have seen CRM success (e.g. a financial, a retail and a telecommunications company). The range of companies will ensure the Network strives for CRM success rather than commercial gain. The development, running and maintenance of the network will be managed by the CRM-Forum. One of the board’s responsibilities will be to ensure all members are giving as well as taking. It is intended that the Board will meet on a quarterly or biannual basis to review progress of the network, how the network can be improved, the Relationships Network Development Roadmap that will be executed by the CRM-Forum, and how the member base can be grown in-line with the Roadmap.

The network will consist of a number of discussion areas around a variety of evolving CRM-related topics (examples listed in section 5). Each board member will be able to lead the debate in at least one discussion area (discussion leader). Each discussion area will be open to board members, CRM-Forum members, and any other interested parties. The discussion will be moderated by, and be under the editorial control of the board member, in line with guidelines developed by the CRM-Forum. Those guidelines will be subject to changes proposed by the Strategy Board and agreed by the CRM-Forum. In any discussion area, the discussion leader may set-up “Closed User Groups”. The discussions in Closed User Groups will not be open or visible to non-members of that Closed User Group.

4.1 Who already sits on the Board and why are they developing this network?

The CRM-Forum is one of the world’s leading CRM web-sites, has an independent viewpoint, and offers an extensive and up to date CRM information repository along with industry training, events and recruitment. The CRM-Forum has probably the largest membership base of all CRM sites. The Relationships Network will be hosted within the CRM-Forum.

The Strategy Board currently comprises of;

· The CRM-Forum (described above)

· The CRM Institute, of the Department of Marketing of the University of Strathclyde, a leading UK University whose research and teaching in the CRM space is extensive.

· The Direct Marketing Association, a UK trade association of Direct Marketing companies with strong links to the international community of DMAs.

The CRM-Forum is currently in talks with many high profile CRM companies, institutions, universities, etc. and the spaces left on the Strategy Board are expected to fill up very quickly.

5.0 Relationship Network Functional Overview

The Relationship Network will consist of a number of discussion groups on a variety of topics related to CRM. Candidate discussion areas (to stimulate debate and to be ratified by the Strategy Board) include:

· Data Warehousing: Discussion of all the issues relating to the building of Data Warehouses, Data Marts, and Databases in a CRM context, including consolidation of legacy system data by customer including customer identification techniques; data standardisation and transformation issues; managing data quality; performance issues; technology platforms, etc

· Strategic and Financial Analyses: Discussion of issues of how to use the CRM Database/mart/warehouse to support strategic decision making including such topics as customer profitability; customer value evaluation; strategic trend analyses using OLAP / ROLAP tools, etc

· CRM Research / Trends: Discussion on emerging trends in the CRM space

· Data Mining: Discussion of the use of Data Mining techniques (standard statistical analyses; neural networks; data visualisation tools; etc) to identify patterns which can be leveraged to improve customer value. Including the development of test cell design and campaign design, to provide meaningful results.

· Multi-channel, event-driven campaigning: Discussion of the development and use of multi-channel event-driven campaigning techniques to support both conventional CRM and e-CRM environments.

· Mobile CRM: Discussion of the emerging mobile phone / WAP channel and its relevance to CRM.

· Web-enabled Call-centre: Discussion of the integration of Web and call-centre channels to provide significant uplift in the cost-effectiveness of these channels in a sales and service environment.

· Partnership CRM: The use of CRM techniques in a business environment with one or more strong independent distribution channels.

· Evaluation of Effectiveness: Discussion on the use of techniques to measure the effectiveness of CRM techniques, including response analysis techniques; campaign profitibality and other measures of campaign effectiveness, and evaluation of channel effectiveness.

· Relationship Building: Discussion of the use of innovative techniques to deepen the relationship with the customer, through the provision of relationship-enabling sevices.

· One-to-one Marketing: Discussion of the delivery of truly one-one marketing programmes in high-value customer relationship environments.

· Personalisation / E-Commerce: Discussion of the use of CRM techniques in the e-channel, and particularly the development of personalisation techniques on web-sites.

· Sales Force Automation: Discussion of the issues surrounding the implementation of Sales Force Automation systems.

· Self-regulatory and Legal aspects: Expert discussion of such aspects as codes of practice for various channels; advice on Data Protection requirements, etc.

Please note that these topics have been selected only to present potential subjects for discussion. The strategy board will be responsible for agreeing the final topics.

6.0 Technical Features:

Each Discussion area will have the following technical features:

· The ability to register documents in the CRM-Forum Document libarary, with the documents categorised as belonging to that discussion group. Members will be able to use both CRM-Forum search facilities and discussion area facilities to find documents associated with the discussions group.

· The use of Bulletin Board system (BBS) facilities to run open and closed discussion groups with control of the membership of closed groups.

· The facility to edit and store in an archive, edited highlights from the BBS.

· Facilities to download documents and discussion archives from the discussion group.

· Provision of chat facilities supporting on-line text chat and on-line audio chat

· In the future it is hoped to provide “Web event” broadcasting facilities to support web broadcasts (both video and audio) in real-time, with facilities for “attendees” to submit questions to a panel for answering, for example

6.0 What is the next step?

If you are interested in becoming a strategy board member or have any questions, contact:

Richard Forsyth, Managing Director, CRM-Forum – [email protected], +44 (0)131 555 2081

UK Direct Marketing Association
University of Strathclyde

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