CRM Adopters Find Success

Research firm profiles 10 CRM adopters to find what makes for CRM success

While many studies of Customer Relationship Management implementations have focused on what can go wrong during customer experiences, research firm Aberdeen Group recently took a look at what 10 high-profile CRM adopters have done right during their implementations.

Aberdeen asked vendors to nominate customer CRM implementations during 2002. Analysts from the research firm then winnowed these submissions down to 10 successful implementations.

The resulting study—"What Works: Ten Significant CRM Implementations 2003"—identifies cases in which CRM implementations were successful and in which customers could cite a genuine return on investment.

One successful customer example, Avnet Computer Marketing, a subsidiary of Avnet Inc., rolled out a set of internal solutions based on CRM applications from SalesLogix (which is marketed in the United States by Best Software). Avnet now supports three separate applications based on SalesLogix CRM that service approximately 700 internal users. The company maintains more than 41,000 customer records in a Microsoft SQL Server repository.

Avnet deployed SalesLogix CRM in a phased approach, largely to avoid the setbacks, underperformance, or failures that have plagued other companies during more comprehensive rollouts. Instead, Avnet started small, implementing a SalesLogix sales force automation application to allow users to synchronize their individual customer records—typically stored in ACT!—with a centralized customer database available to everyone on its direct sales team.

Avnet next rolled out SalesLogix CRM to its customer support and service organization, which is now able to access customer and product information across several different repositories throughout the company. Finally, Avnet implemented SalesLogix CRM to bring sales force automation capabilities to the sales team that services its reseller channel.

As a result of its CRM implementation, Avnet can point to genuine ROI, including a 20 percent reduction in the time required to manage customers and customer transactions, purchases, or inquiries. Moreover, Avnet says that it has reduced the time that its sales teams require to assemble and consolidate sales forecasts by 23 hours per week. In addition, the company has increased the efficiency of its lead generation and management, allowing it to pass leads along to resellers and to track the performance of those leads. Avnet also says that it has generated new business as a result of the stellar support provided by its SalesLogix-powered customer call center.

Another successful CRM implementer was Hitachi Japan, a company plagued by a highly distributed, unstructured, and—largely as a result of its lack of automation—costly business-process system. How unstructured? Hitachi’s quote and order-management process lacked automation capabilities and instead relied extensively on paper-based requests for quotes, along with phone calls, faxes, and e-mails for purchases.

Hitachi opted for Internet Selling System (ISS), a CRM solution from Selectica Inc., largely because of that company’s success with other global customers (such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Dell Computer Corp.) The Japanese electronics giant exploited the ISS architecture to develop online quoting, order and product configuration for its Internet Platform Division (iPD), which supports 20 different families of server products. The strength of the solution, Hitachi reports, is that its product and pricing rules, racking, and cabling rules, and its unique user hierarchy, are captured at the database level and don’t have to be hard-coded. This means they can be easily updated without breaking the system.

Hitachi went live in January 2002 on an integrated solution combining Selectica’s Web-based order-taking system and configuration applications with Hitachi’s own ordering and production systems. Since implementation, Hitachi has identified a number of tangible benefits, such as increased accuracy in order taking; reduced time to configure products; reduced transaction costs as a result of the elimination of manual tasks and multi-part paper-based forms; and higher job approval, resulting in increased efficiency and higher customer satisfaction.

The Aberdeen study contains insights on eight other CRM adopters, at least two of which—Engage Inc. and Sovereign Bank—are tapping hosted CRM solutions from, respectively, and Salesnet. This trend will continue among other CRM adopters, Aberdeen speculates, as corporate CRM purchasers are increasingly more willing to consider outsourcing their CRM services.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.