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The Evolution of Enterprise CRM

June 8th, 2010 by Nitin Bidi

CRM. Customer Relationship Management. BI. Business Intelligence. SMM. Social Media Marketing. In the past few years, the line between these operations solutions have become blurred, and enterprises are sometimes challenged with finding the right mix.

American Unit is dedicated to providing our clients with the best solutions for their business situations. The customer care landscape is changing rapidly; just as the internet has changed from Web 1.0, to Web 2.0, and now on the horizon is Web 3.0. How has the evolution in CRM processes affected the enterprise?

First, there was database management, which came about after computerized solutions for managing large databases become commonplace in the 1980s. Customer Relationship Management as a business solution developed in the 1990s about a decade later. In theory, CRM was a great idea; but in practice it was often difficult and expensive to implement and it was confusing to keep records constantly updated and accurate. The majority of CRM systems were customized solutions meant to help companies tailor their marketing and sales to specific client needs.

At first, CRM was basically a tool for gathering business intelligence, or BI; the data was used inhouse. As CRM matured in the early part of the 21st century, the static databases of the 1990s developed into a way to continually understand customer buying behavior in real-time. Now, business intelligence as delivered through dynamic CRM solutions also included data about both the motivations and the reactions of customers; helping to make B2C communication a truly two-way.

Although today most companies of any size utilize CRM applications, three industry sectors dominate: technology, financial services, and retail. Companies can now quickly and easily both track and respond to customer patterns, habits and satisfaction levels. American Unit helps small and mid-sized businesses find and customize the best solutions as well as keep abreast of the rapid changes in CRM and BI.

Customer Relationship Management solutions, along with the ever-evolving functionality of Business Intelligence applications, offer many benefits to small and medium-sized companies who realize the importance and well as the complexity of integrating technology with business operations. Some of the benefits of a comprehensive CRM solution include:

  • Up-to-date and accurate data to assist in short-term and long-term decision-making.
  • Help with scheduling production and JIT (just-in-time) inventory levels.
  • Relevant information and customer feedback for the marketing and sales departments for future enhancements and upgrades for products and services.
  • Building and maintaining customer satisfaction levels, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
  • Strategizing in a customer-centric fashion.
  • Keeping the sales force on track with its goals.

Successfully and efficiently managing customer relationship management and customer experience management solutions is challenging, yet absolutely necessary. American Unit is ready to work with you to create a viable and highly functional platform for maximum benefit.

Innovation in the Middle Market: An Outsourcing Option

January 18th, 2010 by Bill Martin

One of the key challenges faced by almost every middle market enterprise is that of continuous innovation. Whether we refer to business model innovation, product and/or service innovation, marketing/selling innovation or any other process, the ability to achieve real innovation rests on an almost insurmountable need to invest human, financial and, sometimes, structural capital that middle market enterprises generally don’t possess. But, there is a way.

The emerging process of “crowdsourcing” provides an avenue for creativity and innovation by tapping the power of the Internet and social media. According to Wikipedia, “crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.” The community that sprang up around the development of Linux is a benchmark example of the success of crowdsourcing. The process of crowdsourcing is viable for any number and genre of tasks that might benefit from a varied and populous creative resource. This includes developing new technologies, designing new products or analyzing huge amounts of data/information. Crowdsourcing can shorten time to market for new products, uncover ways to cut costs or improve service levels, and heighten market success for new products or enhancements.

The global economy remains challenging for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for those in the SMB market. The notion of leveraging Web 2.0 technologies to harness the potential of tens or hundreds of thousands of talented and knowledgeable individuals in a forum for mass collaboration is the essence of crowdsourcing. While the challenges may be local, the solutions could very well be global and make the difference for middle market firms looking for sustainable channel for competitive differentiation.

Critical to success in this emerging model is precise articulation of the objective. Achieving that, companies can then access thousands of people possessing design, engineering, R & D and promotional skills that are simply not available to firms that are reticent to staff up in the current environment. Crowdsourcing is not risk-free. Participants are not employees and, thus, are not subject to enterprises’ established policies, procedures and controls. That may be a small price to pay to access critical competencies in a cost-effective and expeditious manner.

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