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The Business of CRM

As technology tools become both more powerful and more broadly available, large organizations are increasingly confronted with a serious problem. Often, technology with extraordinary potential is put in place at significant expense. But understanding this potential and building the necessary capability to fully leverage technology for the benefit of the broader organization may be overlooked.

At the moment, Optima Group is working on crafting a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy for a client. A sophisticated and powerful CRM capability is a key tool in facilitating the transition from silo-driven to a “total relationship.” Fully enabled and integrated CRM systems can collect information across an organization, store it, and provide tools for analysis and profitable redistribution. But, to provide value, these systems need oversight by managers who are informed regarding enterprise objectives and whose focus and prime directive are to leverage CRM data to build bridges across the business silos. This should not be the responsibility of dedicated technology personnel. These managers must be business-focused, creative, and empowered to design and deliver strategies that further the relationship model from market research, customer segmentation and profitability analysis to multi-business line sales and service structures.

Without this layer of management, the value of CRM technology, no matter how elegantly designed, is largely lost and the expenditure on such systems becomes questionable. Therefore, we believe that for a relationship management program to be successful, it is critical for organizations to grasp that CRM has evolved away from a mainly technical challenge into a strategic business function.