So that I can speak intelligently with our IT deptartment, what current technologies would enable faster, easier and less costly integrations /implementations with third party CRM solutions vs. the full suite from the ERP vendor?
Sadly enough, this is one of those "depends" answers. It is important if you need it to be. In recent months, the integration frameworks, Web services and Internet architectures that most of the vendors are offering (e.g. SAP's Netweaver, Siebel's UAN, etc.) are perfectly capable of integration with external and legacy applications. The libraries of APIs are extensive and the applications out there that are independent of CRM platform, like Websphere, can handle integration really well. So the ability to choose a third party solution if that is what you want is perfectly viable. However, it is always a bit easier to integrate SAP with SAP or Oracle with Oracle than to integrate a third party solution with it. However, it is never as easy as the vendor's claims. So, I would consider a few things before I decided which integration tool or framework I wanted to use.
First, decide which processes you use that will have to change and then see which applications provide the best fit to the changes and the best ongoing capabilities.
Figure out whether or not you can live with the culture of the vendor providing that application. THEN begin to see which tools or frameworks are appropriate. For example, if you want to use Siebel for your front end, perhaps the UAN works. If you want to use Kana for your contact center, then you will have the Websphere eCommerce Suite integrated into the applications. So it truly varies from need to need and application to application. Without knowing more about you, I can't be more than generic.
I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com anytime if you'd like some more information.
This was first published in July 2003