Today is April 1 and I wanted readers not to think of this post as some kind of a gag, at least not in it’s entirety!I find that the media including the Internet has been rather quiet on this "April Fool’s day". For example, while Google had a great search picture in 2000 on "Fool’s day (check here) this year was quiet. In any event,I thought, I ‘d start a new topic on this blog. This is the topic of CRM, the front end of the supply chain.
On the academic front I have been working for actually several years on some theory on how Sales Force Automation can be better adopted in organizations. In Supply Chain terms , the front end of the supply chain includes distribution and customer relationships. According to me, the acquisition of new customers, with no previous transaction history is- sales. If you truly want to mine your old customer data , you need to have past data in the first place. Ideally, a pretty solid data base of past dealings and interactions with the customer. There is an explosion of activity in the CRM space going by the number of companies doing something or the other. For example, Sugar CRM has come out with a Project management suite ; Sales Force.com has added a customer collaboration piece; Oracle’s Seibel is offering on-demand CRM as is Microsoft. I have been having a challenging time explaining to a segment of my audience- viz. academics; that true CRM rests on the base of keeping track of financial transactions. Something must be sold and payment received to allow an entire back end of production, accounting, delivery, quality and satisfaction data to develop. If the customer has no prior "transaction" history, the prospect is that – a prospect and needs a Sales Force Automation (SFA) approach. It was only today that I checked Wikipedia for CRM and felt somewhat comforted that Wikipedia has declared the CRM pages as "This article or section appears to contain a large number of buzzwords and may require cleanup.". I thought I needed to put a screen shot of CRM from Wikipedia today- just to say that CRM , it’s conceptual definition and connection to SFA and the integration to the upstream Supply Chain will keep lot’s of people busy in technology and business for years to come. No kidding!