Not long ago - say 3 years - there were fewer integrated ERP solutions and integration was far more complex, and at that time 'CRM' flourished (although we called it Marketing Automation, Sales Automation and Customer Service Automation). So the idea of a fully integrated piece is relatively new. In essence, you don't have to integrate to ERP to CRM, electronically, but often it helps, especially if, for example, sales and marketing need to market to existing customers, where the data about customers is held in the ERP solution. However, don't get hung-up about full online integration, often you can do just as well with regular downloads between systems, especially where the market is not moving so fast, such as in high value B2B capital goods sales. The best advice is to identify the cost of integration, looking at various options, and look at the business case for integrating, and act on this - rather than assuming there must be 100% integration cross the piece.
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This was first published in June 2001