Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Five CRM Strategies That Cost Little to Nothing, but Will Generate Positive Results

Companies that fail to invest in CRM strategies because of the tough economic climate will delay perceived benefits by at least 12 months once the economy recovers, giving rivals an advantage in the market, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner analysts said that lesson learned from previous downturns indicate that 40 percent of companies will use the current economic slump as an opportunity to generate post-recovery growth via effective use of CRM strategies.

Gartner said in reality there is no such thing as true "zero cost strategy"-- as money has often already been spent on CRM systems and there are ongoing care and maintenance expenses -- CRM success can be secured without spending more money on technology. Many organizations have large investments in call centers, Web sites, marketing systems and sales force automation. With these pieces in place, companies can wrap effective strategies around these tools and generate real success from a customer standpoint.

Gartner has identified five strategies that companies can undertake now that cost very little or nothing, but which will generate positive results from a CRM strategy point of view.

Customer Communities - Gartner predicts that CRM of the future will be about creating online communities of customers via emerging social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and similar Web sites. The economic downturn provides a great opportunity to begin experimenting in this area, and Gartner advises companies to set up accounts on the various Web sites and learn what they do and don’t do, and how users interact.

Analytics - Once bought and installed, analytic tools can be put to good use during economic downturns. Many companies have more information than they know what to do with, and now they have the opportunity to put this to good use studying attrition models, looking at the next most likely to buy models, and figuring out channel usage patterns. While doing so, companies should bear in mind that customer behavior may change when the economy improves.

Segmentation - Many segmentation schemes are based on psycho-demographics, profitability or account attributes. However, a down economy provides companies with the opportunity to review their segmentation strategy and see if it really is the very best one that they could have.

Process Redesign - Process is often an overlooked part of CRM and in many cases all that CRM technologies have done is taken out old, broken processes and made them run more efficiently. Now is an excellent time to study customer processes with a view to redesigning them and creating a win/win situation for both the company -- which gets greater efficiency -- and the customer -- who gets a "partner" that interacts with them in a meaningful way.

Organizational Redesign - Organizational change is one of the most difficult areas of CRM strategy, but many companies need to make the move from product-centric to customer-centric. In a down economy, with fewer distractions, many companies will find that this is the perfect time to start to address some of the organizational issues that get in the way of serving the customer.

More information about CRM can be found at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Internet Users Turn To Social Media To Seek One Another, Not Brands or Products

A new report by Knowledge Networks gives advertisers, marketers and researchers a clearer picture of the motivations and attitudes of social media users – with sometimes-surprising results. While 83% of the Internet population (ages 13 to 54) participates in social media – 47% on a weekly basis – less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions in any of nine product/service categories. In addition, only 16% of social media users say they are more likely to buy from companies that advertise on social sites.

"Social media use" was defined as having visited any one of 27 social sites or having used social features on other sites. Participation in social media is indeed widespread among those 13 to 54; but when Knowledge Networks asked users whether they regularly turn to these sites when trying to make a purchase decision, the highest percentages among nine categories were 4%, for travel and banks/financial services. Responses for clothes/shoes, restaurants, mobile phone services and five other categories ranged from 1% to 3%.

Almost two thirds (63%) of social media users agree that ads are a "fair price to pay" for use of these sites and features; but a much smaller proportion (16%) say they are more likely to buy from advertising brands. "Staying connected" – to friends and family, as well as meeting new people – is by far what is "most liked" (54%) about participating in social media.

The study also shows that:

--34 percent of social media users report using these sites or features more often now compared to a year ago, while 18% said they use them less
--Just 1% of the total online population – and the same proportion of social media participants – uses Twitter once a week or more
--60% of social media participants say they only access these sites and features at home

Monday, May 18, 2009

The market for speech applications in mobile computing expected to triple by 2014

As individuals around the world become more accustomed to using mobile computing devices in hands-busy, eyes-busy environments, the market for speech recognition technologies within these devices is expected to gain considerable traction within the next five years. In a new report, “The Proliferation of Innovative Speech Applications in Mobile Computing”, independent market analyst Datamonitor predicts the global market for advanced speech recognition (ASR) in mobile handsets will increase from $32.7 million in 2009 to $99.6 million in 2014. That for ASR in in-vehicle telematics is expected to grow at a similar rate, from $64.3 million in 2009 to 208.2 million by 2014.

Speech applications in mobile computing typically enable the user to vocally control the device’s functionality -- a feature known as command and control. Other common applications include voice-dialling and voice-search, in which a search engine can be controlled by voice, and voice-input, in which the user verbally inputs data into the device.

Hands-free laws are gaining traction around the world, restricting the use of mobile devices while operating vehicles. Countries as diverse as Australia, Britain, Chile, and the Philippines, among others, have enacted legislation prohibiting heavy interactions of mobile handsets while driving. In the United States, 15 states restrict handset use while driving whilst allowing for the use of hands-free systems. Vendors have been pushing command and control and SMS transcription applications to alleviate these issues.

Mobile speech applications used by businesses are typically relegated to gray collar jobs that require a significant amount of physical activity. Datamonitor’s findings suggest that because enterprises don’t typically prioritize mobilizing their white collar workforce, the market for speech applications in this sector is low.

Conversely, there’s considerably more upside for speech applications targeted towards mobile field workers and warehouse workers, who consistently operate in a hands-busy, eyes-busy environment, and for whom speech applications can speed the completion of field force or warehouse-related duties. For example, warehouse workers constantly move and lift inventory. Having to log inventory via a manual process decreases productivity and distracts the worker, which increases the chance of accidents. Warehouses that invest in “voice picking” applications, in which inventory is logged by voice, find that workers can accomplish many of their tasks without having to break concentration from his lifting duties.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Drop in Online Customer Satisfaction Offers More Bad News for Retailers

Amid conjecture that the worst days of the recession may be behind us, a new report released from ForeSee Results finds that customer satisfaction with many of the largest online retailers is taking a dive. The decline threatens to smother an online retail recovery just as the rest of the economy shows signs of recovery. The annual Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research falls 3 percent since last year to an aggregate score of 73 on the study’s 100-point scale.

The research, which employs the methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is based on surveys of over 22,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail websites by sales volume, as reported in the 2009 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Online retail stalwarts Netflix (85) and Amazon (84) lead all e-retailers for a fifth year in a row, showing that it is possible to succeed despite tough times. The largest improvements go to (+6% year-over-year to 76), Costco (+3% since last year, and +6% since 2005), and eight other companies improved 3%.

Only 16 of the top 100 e-retailers improved, while over half declined. Even got knocked from its throne, sliding nearly 6% to 75 and now trailing and Apple’s expansion into cell phones has been a boon for the company, but it may be having trouble serving a different customer base on its website. Other notable declines include (-8% to 71, trailing Walgreens and; (-7% to 70) and (-6.4% to 73). An analysis of the factors that impact customer satisfaction shows that consumers are more price-sensitive than in previous years. Preceding reports of the Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index have shown that despite being a perpetually low-scoring element, price has had a relatively low impact on overall satisfaction. However, the 2009 study reveals that although shoppers aren’t more dissatisfied than in previous years, price now matters more.

The report compares desirable future behaviors of highly satisfied shoppers to dissatisfied shoppers and finds that the former group is 71% more likely to purchase online than the latter, and 72% more likely to recommend the website. But satisfaction with the website has an impact with a shopper’s brand experience and translates into a greater likelihood (44% more likely) to make a purchase offline.

More information on CRM can be found at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leading Companies Experience Lower Cost-per-User, On-Budget and On-Time Completion of BI Projects

IT and business management are increasingly expressing alarm at rising costs associated with Business Intelligence (BI) implementations. The fear of hidden costs has kept many companies from making an investment (over 30% of respondents have not increased their BI spend in the past 24 months), and many adopters have found that the costs related to on-going support and maintenance of an ever-changing set of analytical and reporting requirements inhibits user penetration and the ability to manage the total cost of ownership (TCO).

The latest research report, “Managing the TCO of Business Intelligence,” announced by Aberdeen Group, found that the top pressure driving companies to investigate TCO management capabilities is the need to improve the ease of use of BI for non-technical users.

The report reveals the performance around BI implementations that leading companies – those achieving the top 20% of aggregate performance - have been able to achieve through their management of TCO:

* Implementing BI to their enterprise while requiring 28% fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) to support their deployments

* Experiencing on-budget completion of BI projects at 5 times the rate of Industry Average companies

* Decreasing the cost-per-user of their BI applications by more than four times the rate of Industry Average companies

* Completing BI projects in just 14 days, almost three times faster than Industry Average companies and over ten times faster than Laggards

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Worldwide Application Infrastructure and Middleware Market Revenue Increased 6.9 Percent in 2008

Revenue in the application infrastructure and middleware (AIM) software market totaled $15.1 billion worldwide in 2008, a 6.9 percent increase from 2007, according to Gartner, Inc. In 2007, worldwide AIM revenue grew 13.3 percent and totaled $14.1 billion. The AIM market includes 12 segments that comprise general-purpose portal products, business-process-management-enabling technologies, application integration and platform middleware, business-to-business/multienterprise products, integration as a service, SOA governance technologies, and integration appliances.

As the global economy goes through recession tunneling, the AIM market will experience a slight decline of 0.8 percent in 2009. In turn, when recovery does occur, Gartner expects it to be solid for this technology, because pent-up demand has already started to build up.

Among the 12 segments in which Gartner divides the AIM market, integration appliances were the fastest-growing segment with a 44 percent increase in 2008, followed by service-oriented architecture (SOA) governance technologies, business process management suites (BPMSs), and enterprise service bus suites, which all grew at double-digit rates. These segments continued to benefit from the demand for SOA.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mobilizing CRM Delivers Competitive Advantage to European Organizations

Recently launched are the findings of a study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Research In Motion (RIM) that highlight how and why organizations in Europe are mobilizing enterprise applications, like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), to gain a competitive advantage.

Based on the responses from over 1,000 business and IT decision makers, from companies in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, the research shows that the top two reasons organizations mobilize CRM are improved sales and improved employee productivity (87%). The third biggest driver to mobilize CRM was improved customer service (55%), suggesting that the trend to mobilize enterprise applications not only benefits internal operations, but also increases customer satisfaction.

With information changing at such a fast pace in today's business environment, mobile employees can not solely rely on accessing information from a desk-based system as it is often inaccessible on a timely basis or out of date by the time they leave the office. Respondents from the study also outlined five main benefits of mobile CRM, compared to traditional desk-based access, which included:

- Improved productivity of front-line personnel (77%)
- Improved customer experience (74%)
- Increased customer satisfaction (73%)
- Improved business process efficiency (73%)
- Reduced CRM costs (63%)

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the respondents who have deployed mobile CRM explained that it helps front-line personnel be more effective in their jobs. Empowering employees to access and update information wherever they are can prove to be a real business benefit not only to mobile workers, but also for office-based employees who rely on real-time data.

The survey sample represented different sized organizations from across Europe and showed that although larger companies (>500 employees) have mobilized CRM systems to date, a greater number of smaller organizations (63%) have plans to mobilize their CRM systems. The benefits are so compelling, in fact, that over two-thirds (69%) of companies who have mobilized CRM stated that they are likely to recommend others do so. The most common areas within an organization that utilize mobile CRM are:

- Sales (63%)
- Customer service (60%)
- Field service (51%)
More information on CRM can be found at