ATLANTA -- J.D. Edwards may be a relative newcomer to the CRM arena but, at CRM Technology Decisions, its CEO made the company's intentions for the market very clear.
"Let there be no doubt that J.D. Edwards is serious about the CRM space," said Bob Dutkowsky. "Our customers have asked us to be serious about it."
Previously, Denver-based J.D. Edwards was known principally as an ERP vendor, though it also resold software from Siebel Systems Inc. Dutkowsky said customers requested an easier-to-use CRM product. In November 2001, J.D. Edwards acquired YOUcentric Inc. and officially entered the CRM space.
The company's latest offering -- CRM 2.0 -- debuted last month and is billed as containing 175 enhancements, including mobile sales capability, a combined contact center and field services application, and integration with J.D. Edwards' supply chain application.
Dutkowsky took issue with analysts and experts who say that all CRM applications are basically the same.
"If I agreed with that, then why am I here?" he asked. Applications, he said, change when applied to a specific business model. For example, "SFA [sales force automation] is SFA is SFA, as defined, but when you apply the application to the business model, no two enterprises apply [SFA] the same way."
J.D. Edwards' software, Dutkowsky said, is different in three ways; it offers tight integration between applications, greater visibility into applications and the ability for customers to use their existing architecture -- SAP and Oracle, for example -- to support J.D. Edwards applications.
One thing Dutkowsky's customers have been telling him -- especially the C-level executives, whose voices ring so loudly in CRM vendors' ears -- is that they're concerned about ROI. Dutkowsky said that he sees ROI as a two-part problem: vendors "over-commit and under-deliver," and C-level executives "typically aren't involved enough in the project."
The solution, Dutkowsky said, is for vendors to build products that are easier to use and implement, and then to encourage executives to accept responsibility for the project, rather than just initiating it and walking away from it.
Sidnah P. Doby, project manager at AT&T in Atlanta, agreed that the responsibility for increasing ROI should be shared between vendor and customer. "There's partnership here," she said.
The bottom line for execs, said Doby, is "how willing are you to take the risk and accept ownership for it?"
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