The idea of CRM or more generally Customer Relationship Management Systems is not a new concept. When it is implemented correctly and managed effectively, a good system can bring great benefits for any business.
In this article we look at the history of CRM and how it was generally deployed for larger organisations, and then look at how technology has and continues to change this traditional paradigm.
The concept of CRM started in the latter half of the 1990’s with a combination of SFA (Sales force automation) and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) processes along with Contact Management ideas to form the basis of applications that were first known as a CRM solution.
Having worked in the CRM marketplace since the late nineties, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the hardships and witness the changes first hand as technology has moved on. The chunky desktop has been replaced by sophisticated tablets, lightweight laptops and mobile devices.
The idea that you need to be tied to an office desk or have to work next to a phone connection are concepts that have now been assigned to history, but business application like CRM and finance have not always kept up with the evolving curve.
Applications like CRM were historically, installed and deployed at a given office location and run as an internal application. Once or twice in the early 2000’s I would see an organisation trying to make their systems internet available, but few succeeded.
Then things post 2002 started to change as a new company formed in 1999 started to make headway with an internet based solution, that company was called Salesforce. At this time a number of mainstream CRM vendors including the one I worked for thought it was just a flash in the pan, a new thing that would be here today and gone tomorrow.
What those main stream vendors failed to realise was there was in business, an appetite for change. There was an appetite for fast, web based solutions that were cost effective and easy to deliver.
In only 4 years the competition to this new upstart was predominantly the same mainstream vendors that had failed to respond. They soon found that the only thing that was gone tomorrow was their customer base and their businesses.
This eventual decline of expensive desktop software was not unexpected by those of us that worked at the so called sharp end of technology. Innovation in technology had just experienced the Y2K event and was now rushing headlong into the Dot-com boom, where the need and pace of rapid change was relentless.
Even now in 2016 the pace has not really slowed although the general activities are more uniform than a decade before. Vendors like Apple began to innovate in 2007 and then dominate the mobile application space with its range of iPhones, to then be followed with iPads in 2010.
Microsoft entered the business application space early in the 2000’s but it was not until 2006 that some compelling editions of what was to become Microsoft Dynamics were unveiled.
The first release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM was a breath of fresh air compared to the solutions that had dominated the space, and along with Salesforce both organisations began to build rapid market share.
As I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft technology from my early developer and university days, it will come as no surprise that post 2006 I focused on the Dynamics offering as a business solution and in 2009 set up MyCRM group.
MyCRM has four key offerings which include Enterprise Manged CRM on dedicated platforms, Managed CRM on a shared platforms, a range of Microsoft Dynamics CRM extensions and a range of support services to make your organisations investment in CRM a successful experience.
If we now go back to where I started and look at why the paradigm has changed, there are a number of key points that act as enablers to ease transition. These are just a few of the easily identified points you might expect to consider.
Reduced cost in hardware – Typical servers as we once knew them have now evolved and creating a clustered private environment (cloud) cost effectively is now in grasp of most online vendors, meaning dedicated environment can be provided virtually without having lots of hardware. Storage of data has also evolved and the use of SAN disks enables providers to hold varying amounts without relying on drives in individual units.
More investment in communications – I remember when I first got a broadband connection back in 2000 and it was 512k by 128k and this was deemed to be fast. In comparison I recently upgraded my domestic broadband and have a connection speed of 152mb by 30mb which just shows the difference over a 16 year period.
Better mobile devices – The next big change is the way we all work and having access to systems and data is now possible though a extensible range of mobile and tablet devices, most vendors have stopped being browser dependant and will support cross technology devices.
Reduced cost in mobile data – Mobile data is also now something that we can actively add into the mix. As speeds of mobile networks have moved on and 4g is now on average the normal that can be expected.
There are also a number of other reasons that CRM managed services are now leading the way in deployment strategy. CRM implementation can be seen as a specialised activity so the following may apply to the deployment of you next CRM solutions.
Availability of skilled Resource – In days gone by a lot of systems were bespoke, and vendors would train and manage resource for a customer or a customer would train up a given member of staff to look after a system. This approach has changed over the past 3 to 5 years as systems are now being provided off the shelf by larger vendors, and the market is less crowded with smaller vendors. This means an individual working in technology is now more likely to specialise in a given subject rather than have knowledge across a range of systems, meaning there are less people around and those that specialise will inevitably cost more.
What partner services can offer – Technology or SI (System Integrator) partners will specialise in a given solution and have a bank of resource ready to help, but if the service for the software is provided with one vendor and the resource another then projects can become fragmented and blame can be shifted from one party to another when any issues arise.
Cost on equipment and support of dedicated CRM servers – Although hardware has decreased in cost and increased in capability and performance, the question about running cost, maintenance and upkeep still needs to be asked. If you are a small business running servers can increase electric costs meaning additional overheads. As a business you will also need access to a specialist to maintain your server and keep backup current.
Cost of Licences – On premise software licensing has never been the cheap option and more so now that online service can wrap the licence and the hardware hosting cost into one per user per month cost. A lot of analogies over the past few years have been drawn against a cup of coffee from a high street vendor and a CRM licence, I’m not sure why apart from the cost is about the same. So here going a medium cup of coffee cost £2.30 so if you bought an employee one cup every day for 1 month it would cost £46 as CRM licence with support and maintenance will cost you £45 so a CRM licence will be better for your business and help your employee be more productive.
Competitive edge – Globalisation has led to competition and a driving down of prices for services. This means that businesses of all sizes have to be competitive and watch costs, with CRM as a managed service and with 1 month flexible monthly licences, costs can be managed far more efficiently with increased flexibility. Explanations and definition is given by business experts and coaches about keeping a business lean to gain best profitability and these words of wisdom should be heeded buy structuring a forecast from your business.
Capital expenditure over Rentals – A wise man once told me don’t buy anything that depreciates and only invest in things that make money, so basically lease depreciating items as a cost. Some organisations prefer to spend reserves on capital expenditure, but the future of software and the growth in Software as a Service is definitely gaining market share on software sales. The general concept of having to buy a licence is slowly ebbing away and the preferred model of subscriptions on a monthly or annual basis is taking hold.
I could go on finding reasons why considering a managed service on cloud technology for your business is a better option, and why managing the cost of software in your business in this way will give you more flexibility and lower overheads.
At the end of the day the choice is down to the business owners and the advice from all parties of what is best for a business. Other great advantages come with managed services for applications like CRM and areas such as data security and general access to data and servers becomes a consideration when having servers at an office location. Internet enabled system allow employees and resource to access data outside of standard working hours, and can encourage mobile working.
Sales teams will have access to data stored from anywhere and can look up vital customer updates before going into a meeting with a client. By using an advanced add on solution like mapping, a team could have access to external data that may identify leads or businesses in a given locale.
By reducing costs in your business and letting systems be managed by professionals that only work in a given specialist area, will benefit with system buy and user adoption.
MyCRM can help migrate your existing on premise v4, v2011 or v 2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution to a managed dedicated enterprise platform, or where the total number of CRM users is less than 100, we could easily migrate you to our multi-client shared platform.
Enterprise dedicated CRM environments also bring other great advantages, as additional servers for applications and web sites can be easily deployed as part of an estate and integrations made for portal and web site software, helping you organisation have full control and integrated solutions from day one.
MyCRM as an organisation specialises in implementing managed CRM systems and platforms for a range of different business types in a range of different sectors. If you are considering moving upgrading or changing what you have, it is worthwhile talking to us to get the best effective system and processes for your organisation.
CRM software from any vendor and in any flavour is not a magic bullet in any way, and it is not going to make your customers buy more and automatically make them happy. What CRM systems and processes will do for your business is make you more productive and allow you to collate all your data and organise what interactions you have with your customers. This will make your customer happy as they will know that you care, care enough to understand their needs and history with your business.
MyCRM don’t just provide you software to use, we provide a service that adds value and gives your team and business owner’s confidence that your applied systems are in safe hands.
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