Customer Relationship Management, or “CRM” as most people know it, is that dirty little acronym that loosely brands a wide array of software packages under the same, very large umbrella - just look at all the products profiled in CRM Magazine!! The watered down “CRM” category is comfortably applied to a wide range of business applications which can range from call center management software, to e-commerce storefronts, and even artificial intelligence packages that hone in on consumer buying habits.
“Front Office” CRM is the more classic depiction of CRM and one most familiar to the majority of businesses as it’s primarily focused on addressing the sales, marketing, and service objectives required by many companies. When “Front Office” CRM was first unveiled to the business market it was an epiphany for many businesses. After all, it’s predecessors were Contact Managers, which subsequently evolved into Sales Force Automation (SFA) applications; both of which were oftentimes not accessible from the internet and required some mechanism of synchronization (that rarely worked) for offline use of CRM data – aspects that were very counterproductive for salespeople.
The concept of “Front Office” CRM has served many businesses very well, but in the same breath it has also failed many organizations resulting in costly implementations and the all too common negative return on investment. Like most new technologies, this market has expanded rapidly and evolved with the age of the Internet, overall market maturity, and lessons learned.
A new era of CRM has emerged: one where businesses define the relationships that are most important to them and mold the application to their specific needs. Gone are the days of being force fed the cookie cutter sales, marketing, and service aspects often found in “Front Office” CRM. Now businesses can configure an application that works for them and without a degree in Computer Science.
This new era of CRM is focused on relationship management. Some in the industry call it “
This paradigm shift from CRM to XRM takes the focus away from the software application and straight to the underlying foundation of the application: the software platform. Businesses can define the people, money, and things that matter most to them and define the interactions between these relationships. More importantly, they invest in a software platform and define the underpinnings for an application that works the way their business works, streamlines their operational workflow, and manages the specific relationships pertinent to their business.
In this new era of relationship management, the CRM software vendors that once reveled in the days of “Front Office” CRM applications are quickly disappearing from the CRM landscape.
Only a very few software vendors will emerge as the leaders in the XRM or relationship management space. Success will come to those who have always been focused on the software platform but have also served as leaders in the application space as well.
Microsoft is one of the few software vendors that re-focused their CRM application strategy back toward the software platform, specifically for their line of business management solutions for financial, supply chain, and customer relationship management; the latter referring to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM embodies the concept of XRM since it’s ultimately a development platform with shrink wrapped CRM functionality for Sales, Service, Marketing, and Analytics. But it’s the platform which allows businesses to define their own X factor. For example, an
In the case of Microsoft, its platform allows for the seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook and the other Office applications, is accessible from the internet, can work offline in the same way Outlook works offline, and employs a powerful workflow engine. Even though it comes with the traditional pre-packaged CRM bells and whistles, it’s the platform it sits on top of that businesses are investing in. It’s the platform that businesses use as the foundation for configuring a
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