Tapscott  makes the case for CRM

TORONTO — If you are to believe author and high-tech guru Don Tapscott, there will be two kinds of companies in the future.

The chairman of itemus said there will be those who had a customer relationship management strategy and those who are no longer around.

Tapscott was in Toronto on Wednesday to give the keynote address at Siebel’s eBusiness Symposium 2001. He said Canada is still in the early stages of customer relationship management (CRM) adoption and it’s a big opportunity to gain an edge on competitors.

Companies are cutting back on expenses at the moment, but Rob Douglass, vice-president and general manager Siebel Systems Canada Ltd., said interest is nonetheless high.

“What I’ve concluded and observed is that the CEOs in this country instead of executing against the 50 priorities that were on the table, they’ve picked the top 10. The other 40 have been pushed out to some future date and they’re focusing on the 10. And in the 10, CRM is definitely alive and well in terms of their priority and focus,” he says.

While interest may be high, calculating the return on investment (ROI) of a CRM implementation, and whether you indeed can, remains a hot topic. A recent survey by Cap Gemini Ernst and Young (CGEY) of North American companies reveals 42 per cent don’t know the return on investment of their CRM initiatives.

Cal Hart, vice-president of business transformation for Canada Post, is in charge of Canada Post’s CRM implementation. In a recent interview, Hart said ROI can be measured through benchmarking processes before the solution is installed. Douglass, however, said benchmarking is useful but not the be-all, end-all.

“I think the home-run centres around the most senior people in these organizations, in the public and the private sector, realizing the strategic opportunity in this area,” Douglass said. “Benchmarking’s helpful, but I don’t know that it’s imperative.”

Some corporations may be reluctant to engage in another large- scale project after finishing enterprise resource planning (ERP) installs, but Douglass said the two differ in two critical ways. For one thing, CRM is about generating growth while ERP focuses on becoming more efficient. In the second place, CRM is not a all-or-nothing proposition.

“In ERP you pretty had to do the whole thing. You either did it or you didn’t. In this market that’s not the case. You can take on the area where you’re going to get the greatest return on investment and go do that first. Then build on that and then take on another area,” Douglass said.

While collecting and capitalizing on consumer data can prove to be a gold mine, it’s not without its dangers. Consumers are becoming more aware of what information is being stored and how it is being used, and, according to Tapscott, enterprises need to be mindful of this.

“There is a privacy issue here and any company that gets into this needs to be fairly careful about that. Privacy is not just a social, ethical issue, it’s business issue. You need to use the information that you collect about customers for the purposes for which it was intended,” Tapscott said.

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