Cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions, often called online CRM software, are far more than simply a method to realize lower computing costs and faster ROI. They are a disruptive innovation in business class software procurement and consumption. The shift from historical CRM software licensing and procurement to the CRM software-as-a-service (SAAS) model has taken a strong foothold and continues to be the sole high-growth area of the CRM software industry. As more and more organizations experience the benefits of the hosted model, adoption will further accelerate, SAAS delivery will become main stream and SAASS will be the ultimate choice for many business systems procurement projects.
The SAAS industry has evolved at Internet speed and hosted CRM applications have led the way. First generation hosting solutions were somewhat limited in scope, however, provided a meaningful alternative to an undeserved business software market. These early hosting providers removed costly acquisition barriers and delivered specific applications without up front capital investment, complex software installations and the need to retain technical staff to manage information systems. Second generation hosting applications were entirely developed for Internet-based delivery and have matured to include business functionality and process automation that rivals or even exceeds that of the decades-old client/server or on-premise business software applications. This second evolution has changed the market dynamics in terms of hosted solutions being perceived as inferior or immature when compared to tier one or traditional on-premise systems. The upcoming generation is beginning to take root and is expected to weed out the limited point-solution or piecemeal component players in favor of broader suites and to further extend beyond providing just the three tentacles of CRM and include advancements in the areas of business process automation, workflow management, business rules processing, improved customization and integration, remote connectivity, disconnected or offline utilization, support for various selling and support methodologies, improved analysis, multiple version support, and direct integration with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.
For the most part, CRM system adopters of all platforms have learned that Customer Relationship Management is an organizational wide business philosophy that is enabled or empowered with automation software solutions. SAAS adopters are now recognizing that the CRM hosting industry has evolved through successive generation’s, has demonstrated unparalleled early success and for the first time includes multiple competitive hosting alternatives to choose from.
Early CRM hosted solutions focused far more on the cost effectiveness and advantages of the hosting model than the individual product strengths of a particular CRM application. While first-to-market CRM providers had the luxury of evangelizing and selling the SAAS model far more so than selling their proprietary offerings, the buying and selling market dynamics changed dramatically when competitors emerged. As soon as there were multiple vendors delivering the hosting model and the SAAS value proposition, buyers were able to evaluate more than a new business model and dive deeper to focus on the strengths and competitive advantages of each vendor’s proprietary solution.
Along with the hosting industry’s successes come continued challenges. CRM implementation failure rates continue and customer churn among some popular SAAS vendors has reached new heights never before witnessed. This commentary is directed to potential SAAS subscribers and addresses key evaluation criteria which are ultimately influential in determining success or failure in hosted systems implementation and post-production operation.
Contact Management is Not CRM ...