April 17, 2001, 4:39 PM — The CRM (customer relationship management) market is nothing if not fractured. By definition, a single application group that addresses sales, customer service, and marketing will be scattered among conflicting corporate departments and a wide swath of technologies.
The complexity of the customer problem and cautious IT spending are driving a market consolidation among the hundreds of niche vendors. But integration woes -- a perennial CRM problem -- won't be going away soon.
Market forces will drive leading vendors to integrate a basket of applications into a single platform, functional enough to offer core CRM applications but flexible enough to tie in third-party applications. But a lot of that work still needs to be done.
In the meantime, user companies are sorting out the integration and project management issues.
Because of the complexity of these projects, cost overruns and fuzzy goals have become the hallmark of CRM. Businesses clearly value the customer by placing them at the center of their business and technology agendas, but soup-to-nuts CRM applications may be supplanted by more targeted efforts in the future.
Our Page One news story by Bob Trott analyzes the interplay between market consolidation on the vendor side and CRM's hard drive to prove ROI on the user side.
Good data, of course, is at the center of successful CRM projects. Companies need to assess their own effectiveness and compile information about their customers so that their customers can get at the information they want when they need it.
This week's Special News Report by Tom Sullivan, delves into the underpinnings of database technology that provide the foundation for these customer-facing applications.
Are your CRM projects sagging beneath increased pressure?