CRM Customized Due to Saas Model According to CEO Caretsky

By: Thomas Cutler

The introduction of software as a service, (SaaS) pioneered by companies like SalesForce.com, NetSuite, and RightNow Technologies has inspired more businesses to move forward with CRM. This new deployment model has proven to reduce the initial cost of hardware and software acquisition and alleviate the lengthy implementation cycles that have plagued the CRM industry for years. Industry reports confirm that businesses both large and small are gravitating to the SaaS model, prompting other mainstream companies such as Oracle and Microsoft to enter the space. But, has SaaS solved the real problem with CRM? Despite the reduced cost and deployment time of SaaS, user adoption continues to be an issue and cancellations among the providers remains a serious concern.

Like so many industries before it, CRM is evolving into the age of specialization. Customers can take advantage of this by redirecting their focus away from technology and brand recognition to those companies and products that simply serve their industry better than anyone else. Several existing companies such as Pivotal, Onyx and Commence Corporation (www.commence.com) have turned their attention to specific vertical industries, coupling their products with a high degree of domain experience. The value these companies now provide is not only in the product they sell you, but also in their knowledge of your industry, your workflow requirements and how the system can be best utilized by your staff. The initial results have been very good and companies are beginning to realize a higher degree of success with these vertically based solutions. This trend will continue and those companies that persist in being all things to all people may find themselves struggling to compete with these smaller industry focused players.

Customers who have deployed SaaS solutions are beginning to discover functional limitations with these offerings and while they can often be customized, the question is to what degree, by whom and at what cost. In order to understand this issue we must first look at the root of the problem, which stems from a fundamental disconnect between customer expectations and the business model and industry expertise of the CRM providers. Let me explain.

Lets take a look at Microsoft for example one of the newer entries into the CRM space. Their business model is simple and easy to understand. Microsoft's business objective is to sell to what I call the "lowest common denominator " which simply means how can we sell the same solution to as many companies as possible regardless of their size or the industry they are in. The answer is to build a set of vanilla features that support the basic business requirements across all industries. Microsoft is good at this and has done a fine job with individual desktop applications like Word, Excel and Outlook, but CRM is uniquely different. The process by which a manufacturing firm, for example, markets, sells and manages customer relationships is uniquely different then a financial institution or an insurance company. How then can a standard set of basic features meet the unique requirements of every industry? They can't because managing customer relationship is not a commodity and customers need to stop thinking that it is.

Larry Caretsky is the CEO or Commence Corporation a provider of CRM solutions for the Manufacturing, Distribution and Construction sector. Caretsky has authored several white papers including Six Points to Consider, Getting Back to Basics, CRM an Executive Perspective and Practices That Pay, a book that describes how to Leverage Information to Achieve Industrial Selling Results.

Enterprise Information Systems
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