ISM: CRM naysayers have it all wrong

Each year, noted consultancy ISM generates an industry-wide buzz around its market forecasts. This year, it gave SearchCRM.com an early look at its annual guide.

Noted consultant Barton Goldenberg thinks the consensus about the state of CRM is dead wrong.

Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., the Bethesda, Md.-based CRM consultancy specializing in helping businesses formulate enterprise applications strategy. On the eve of releasing the 11th edition of ISM's annual market forecast, "Guide to CRM Automation," Goldenberg gave SearchCRM.com an early look at the trends he's forecasting for 2003.

"The doomsayers got it wrong this time," Goldenberg said. "People are learning how to approach CRM strategy more wisely, and there are all kinds of exciting business and technological innovations taking shape that will propel the market forward."

Goldenberg is predicting 10% to 15% growth for the CRM industry this year, driven largely by a stronger understanding of the fundamentals necessary for projects to succeed. He said that users now realize that 80% of any CRM initiative has "nothing to do with technology." Most companies, he added, are building strategies to refine business processes in an effort to better suit their customers.

"The single most important trend is an increased appreciation of the need to effectively integrate people, process and technology at the roots of any CRM initiative," Goldenberg said.

On the CRM technology side, Goldenberg said the hottest trend is the emergence of XML and Web services architectures. The greatest benefit of this development will be reduced time spent on customization and implementation, he said. Microsoft's .NET platform is the best evidence of this movement already coming to market, according to Goldenberg.

Another significant technology movement is increased demand for vertical applications, and the desire among vendors to deliver these systems. While leading CRM vendors such as Siebel Systems Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., have worked hard to build vertical applications, Goldenberg said that so-called point solution providers will continue to establish themselves as the top designers of industry-specific tools. A prime example of this is Morristown, N.J.-based Dendrite International Inc., which specializes in pharmaceutical industry applications, he said.

Goldenberg also expects extremely rapid expansion of mobile CRM. Goldenberg is projecting that, by the end of 2003, half of all CRM applications will work in wireless environments. He expects that number to grow to 60% in 2004 and swell to 90% by 2005.

Other trends outlined in ISM's "Guide to CRM Automation" are:

  • Increased consolidation and mergers among CRM vendors.
  • Increased CRM focus on the small to midsized business market.
  • Increased use of analytical tools such as predictive modeling in CRM applications.

The guide will be released Feb. 15.

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