The History of CRM: A Consultant’s Perspective – Part One

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I’m evolving in the world of CRM Consultancy; for close to a decade my career mainly focused around Dynamics CRM Implementations. When my friend Felix Robitaille (CEO, XRM Vision) asked me to share my views and experiences in our corporate blog I didn’t really know where to begin so I decided to start from scratch and present my interpretation of the evolution of CRM through time. This first installment presents the first 5 steps of CRM evolution.


CRM evolution


Did you know that the actual concept of weekends was passed on to us from the industrial times? Industrialization has imposed a way of life that is still ingrained in us today; factory working hours and the Monday to Friday working week are all outcomes of the industrial era. Consequently, merchants had to adapt themselves to this new reality; lawyers and bankers for instance all kept registers, profile cards, and files concerning each client presenting the right product at the right time and to the right person...– Managing customers based on their profile... What a brilliant idea!


Some may recall the Rolodex – an index card device that holds general and specific information about something or someone. Some of the best sales persons in the history were using Rolodex to achieve great successes. One remarkable example is Joe Girard. For decades he stayed the best car salesman with record sales year after year. A thoughtful combination of information stored in rolodexes and a group of assistants was the key to his success. By profiling each of his clients and automating relationship activities with them Joe used the basic principles of modern CRM to develop a meaningful relationship with all of his clients, making the experience so unique that when it was time for them to change vehicles, Joe Girard was the only person they had in mind.

Relational Database

Computer science evolution provided us with new tools and technologies that slowly replaced the rolodex. A relational database links a table of data to another using a single key, easing data entry, search, and data transfer processes. In the 80’ some precursors developed electronic rolodexes that would allow users to manage their contacts. This was the birth of the CRM software as we know it.

Productivity suite integration

Even if the early attempts at productivity suite integration with a CRM Software were not very successful, Software editors never gave up. Today, all CRM 1s deeply integrated with Outlook, Word & Excel.

The Customer relationship Phenomenon

At the end of the 1980's we spoke about “Sales Force Automation” - In the 1990's, the Gartner group popularized the term “Customer Relationship Management”: CRM – a combination of customer centric concepts: Marketing, Sales, and Customer Services. In 2000, CRM Applications and Suites found their place in large companies. Implementations were costly and risky, glitches were numerous, and the main caveat was user adoption. Nevertheless, the CRM phenomenon was  here to stay.


by XRM Vision

XRM Vision is a leading Canadian Microsoft Dynamics CRM Silver Partner specializing in building CRM & XRM solutions.Over the years XRM Vision team has been behind some of the most significant CRM implementations in Quebec.

For further information email or visit our website.


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