Every industry uses jargon and short-cut terms for more precise and efficient communication within their industry. Jargon can be great when you’re in the know. In my opinion, though, the technology industry is the absolute WORST with the jargon because it is baked into the very products.
CRM vs ERP vs real business needs
Two great examples are CRM vs ERP. What do they mean to the average business owner or manager?
In my experience: nothing.
Longer-term, if I put myself in your shoes and skip the jargon, what do you want? If you are like most business owners and managers, you want to have dependable, accurate accounting data and reports—income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, and the like—and you want to improve sales, customer retention, responsiveness, marketing, and services.
But do the terms “CRM” or “ERP” help you match the appropriate software with your needs? Not really.
In fact, even after two-plus decades of CRM and ERP being pushed by the technology industry, many prospects who I speak with still don’t speak in those terms. Instead, they speak in terms of their needs. This is natural and to be expected. We in the technology industry should accommodate you, not expect you to accommodate us.
Microsoft is finally speaking your language
I’ve been helping organizations like yours with business applications long enough to realize that the shortest path to success is to speak in prospects’ and customers’ language, not my own.
From that angle, I applauded the Microsoft decision to move away from jargon as they shifted from Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV ERP solutions and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product names to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 branding.
“ERP” is now “Financials” and “Business Central,” and “CRM” is now “Sales,” “Marketing,” and “Customer Service.” The generic “Dynamics 365” term becomes an umbrella term for “business applications.” The new terms are far more business-friendly and easier to understand.
Microsoft wants to make it clear that their products will help you grow your business.
Still no all-in-one software solution
The only catch now is that you might find yourself asking for “Dynamics 365” while the software is still two separate applications: accounting-related functionality; and sales-, marketing-, and services-related functionality.
The applications are different, the needs are different, the sales cycle is different, and the implementation cycle is different. Some service providers tackle both the accounting (“ERP”) and the sales, marketing, and services (“CRM”) sides of the equations. Many other consulting firms specialize in one or the other.
So how do you choose which route to go? How do you refine your path? Again,
Microsoft keeps building better business solutions
It will be interesting to see whether and how the software evolves to match the shift away from the jargon. I also wonder whether we will see a single, integrated application for accounting, sales, marketing, and services.
In the meantime, Microsoft continues to take encouraging steps with the Common Data Services, and other unifying pieces like Microsoft Flow and Power Apps, that create significant value for customers while we wait for a single, unified approach.
I am excited about the future: a customer-focused set of applications that speaks to your needs, not our industry lingo.
By Peter Wolf, President, Azamba Consulting Group
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